01 July 2014

You are beautiful, and you are loved!

This past week, I disappeared.  (Or maybe those around me wish I had) Either way, this past week I was privileged enough to serve a Youth Sing Praise (http://youthsingpraise.com/), a week long retreat during which young men and women come together to share their musical abilities and talents while also participating in a prayerful experience of God's love.  It is an intense time in which there is little sleep, much music and all sorts of other things.  As for me, I had the happy chance of serving as a facilitator.  What this meant was that I sat with a group of teens entrusted to me, and walked with them throughout the week.  There were five groups and each takes the shape of the teens in the group.  Since I was a last minute substitute, I was very nervous and worried, I feared I would be boring and cool.  At least that's what I thought.  Now I need to preface the following statement by saying that I don't often cry, and especially not in front of people.  This being said, YSP is a time in which a large group of teens arrive and share their gifts.  Dance, song, music, and so much more.  Each offers what he or she can and each becomes vulnerable to the other as together we celebrate these unique gifts in the love of God.  This closeness to God is what struck a chord with me this year, almost out of the nowhere, I was touched by the powerful witness that so many of the youth lived.  From the Helpers Team who generously gave their time to work behind the scenes, to the theatrical team who help shape the show like a sculptor chipping away at marble.  The most powerful witness came from the teens.  From the very beginning, I heard from them words that spoke of love and acceptance, they shared their struggles, yes, but also the wonders of God's love that they had clearly experienced.  Out of a moment of toil and tribulation, some youth spoke of the love of God, and it wasn't only something they had heard from an adult, but something they shared from their own heart.  I often sat in awe of the words of these youth, and yes, even sat in tears as I heard them speak of God's love, a love which they had each experienced and which had been reinforced at YSP.  To hear them, I was reminded of the truth of God's love, a love that sees beyond the wounds and the sorrow, and a love that calls us into life, not a perfect life, but a life where we each find our voice, where we come into tune with who God is calling us to be, a life where we learn to sway with each new moment and ultimately, a life where our very song becomes a witness to the glory of God at work here and now.  The tears came, because as I sat in silence and prayer, I was reminded that no matter what, I, you, and all of us, are beautiful and loved no matter what.  And just as Judas and Mary Magdalene sing in Jesus Christ Superstar, "I don't know how to love Him."  we are reminded that we need not worry, because love will ultimately help us find the way of loving that in turn brings life, and it will be good.  And while the week may be over, and the set torn down, the call to evangelize continues, because when one has known the love of God, one must in turn proclaim that love to other, and that I will certainly try to do.   For now, and as always, know that I love you.  RL.  And by the way, your face!

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