From the YMI Director: Tending the Adolescent Soul
Just a few days ago, the YMI was pleased to be able to offer the event, “Tending the Adolescent Soul: Offering Hope in an Age of Despair” with guest presenter Mark Yaconelli.
Mark is a consummate storyteller, and storycatcher. The importance of both are highlighted in his most recent book, Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us. It takes a unique set of skills to be able to be a storyteller. But, I would suggest, it takes more attentiveness to be a good storycatcher.
When I was an associate minister in my first church call, I was responsible for the children, youth, and family ministries that our congregation offered. We had a robust number of young families in the church, and the programming goals were many. But as I settled into the role, I discovered that much of my work actually needed to be focused on the deepening of relationships… relationships between the youth themselves, between the youth and me, and between the youth and God. As the years went by, I found that young people trusted me with more and more of their fears: fears about peers, about fitting in, about college and other next steps. And as the trust deepened, they were also more forthcoming about their hopes: hopes centered on their identities, their dreams for their future, their leadership in their communities. Underneath all of these fears and hopes were stories. And as storycatcher, I found myself weaving their stories with God’s, and asking them some questions in return:
“What are God’s hopes for you?”
“In your story, where do you see a thread of divine love?”
“How can the love you feel from others be passed along?”
Beloved of God: what stories do you hear from your young people? And what do you do to be sufficiently centered in your spirits, so that you can received those stories with the care and attentiveness they deserve? What stands in the way of this form of presence, and what can we actively do to push the busy-ness aside, so that we can tend to the young people entrusted to us, and so we can be worthy recipients of their stories?
In the meantime, may we all continue to try to be worthy recipients of the stories our young people wish to tell us.
On the journey with you,