Tuesday, June 27, 2006

a little sentimental

spent a little bit of time with one of my girls this afternoon and am missing them all anew. it's interesting, this process of saying goodbye to kids every four years. only these kids, these young women, were my peers in a way that the youth i've worked with and loved weren't-- just a totally different experience. not better, not worse-- just a different animal completely.

i've spent my entire adult life traveling and living places for 3, 6 or 9 months to 2-4 years at a time. i've said goodbye to so many people whose faces i dream of on occasion, whose voices i miss like crazy, whose names i sometimes can't even remember, but all of them make up this cool tapestry of my past and even my present...my professor said something about that today...hm. i may have to post part of this poem later...

anyway, it's so funny to be a youth worker. we fall in love with the kids, if we're lucky. we get our hearts all tied up in their lives-- late nights crying on the couch with them, listening to friend problems, boy problems, teacher problems, what-am-i-going-to-do-with-my-life problems, laughing and eating onion sandwiches in the middle of the night in central america with them (you know who you are) discussing things you never even knew they thought about. i keep saying "we"--- i do it. i fall in love. i look forward to drinking coffee with them and knowing what's happening in their lives and seeking the Lord for wisdom in how to counsel them...

And then they get big and go away.

And it's the right thing to do-- Lord knows. the last thing i want to see is them stymied, stuck, afraid to try out all the junk they know out in the world, depressed and lonely while others of their peers take off. i'd rather see one crash and burn sometimes than to never live. i crashed. i burned. i lived. but each has to do what's right for them, and sometimes staying put is the right thing. each kid-- each person-- is different.

but when they are ready to leave, they're ready. they might feel a stab of longing for what they just left behind, but maybe not. and i underestimate their feelings either way. the friend i spent time with today is so ready to go on to the next thing...she's taking off to work in another country and her heart is there already in so many ways. she was so invested, such a big and important part of the campus, but this season is over for her and she's ready to take life by the handles and just do this thing...

i'm going to miss her, and so, so many girls from our class honestly. i'm on campus in grad school now, and i am walking across the campus where i used to yell for miguelita, and i see them missing. on sundays in conyers, there are empty seats. at agnes scott, there are empty studio spaces and honor court meetings. in my heart, i ache like i always have, and they don't see it the same way those of us who stay do... not yet anyway. I wonder about my high school teachers, professors, parents...

but you know, something amazing is going to happen and has already begun-- my heart, and the hearts of mentors and youth workers across the world, is going to expand all over again to receive a new crop of kids whose names will be written on our lives like graffiti. it's amazing how elastic our hearts are, how they can just love and love. it's supernatural.

but for now, i'm missing my girls. i loved the coming together of our hearts, and i am so proud to see where you have gone and are going. but this sister is missing you. know that.

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