Thursday, July 23, 2009

Greetings from an EXTRAORDINARY place.

We arrived at Presbyterian College at 3 and hit the sack at 11. Up again this morning at 7. The Middle School youth groups (more than 300 strong) have unlimited energy and enthusiasm for running, singing, dancing like penguins, eating ice cream, throwing beach balls, praying, volunteering to participate in services and a variety show, tossing lanyards in unexpected places (that was a room key dangling from a high tree last night), wearing matching shirts and silly hats, doing the Charlie Brown, and tolerating slow grown-ups who join them marching up and down the mile-long stretch from one end of campus (our dorm) to the other (Belk Auditorium).

We're having a terrific time. Our little group is the smallest . . . some of the youth groups have traveled in chartered buses from Pennsylvania and Kentucky and there are many church vans parked hither and yon. We're taking lots of pictures and tucking away memories to savor and discuss in days and months to come.

I'm glad I'm in this happy place. We had some very sad news last evening, when our town decided it was okay to overlook procedure and code to make an expeditious decision about our neighborhood zoning issue. We'll now have to appeal to Superior Court in light of the significant errors made by the City staff (thank goodness we hired a court reporter), an added expense none of us can afford. But with a prospective 20% loss in value to our homes, as assessed by area realtors, we can't afford not to.

The fundamental lesson of this year's Middle School Retreat is that ordinary people make extraordinary differences in this world. Moses didn't speak very well. Jonah doubted the value of some people he was supposed to help. Abraham was old and tired when his life really took a left turn. Heroes are people who try to do something without a guarantee of success. It's a big idea for very young people . . . and for adults.

The kids are nearly finished with their first small group session. It's time to take out the knitting, start a prayer shawl, and focus on someone else.

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