Alex and I arrived at our church parking lot on Saturday morning and walked into the almost cliched crowed of kids standing around in clusters, about to board the white church school bus, their luggage piled in a near by van, this is a large Life Event. Kids from nice homes are being abandoned by their parents in broad day light and sent off to church camp in the hopes that it will jump start the process of the confirmation of their Christian faith.
Most Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, like us United Methodist, have some means of forcing their twelve year olds, to take an oath of confirmation so that they can become, "full members" of the church. For us, this is a slow and life defining process. There is more drama in this parking lot than the most dramatic pictures on the silver screen. At twelve most kids are struggling to decided who they are and where they fit and now we add on the question of Who You Are In Christ. Its a loaded question that know sane twelve year old who takes it seriously can answer.
In moments like these I am reminded that my childhood is not far removed from Alex's. Five years separate the moment I was confirmed in the church and her birth. That is insane when I think about that way. I like to think that my involvement in these things do a lot to remind the other parents that no matter what they do, no matter where they live, these defenseless, clueless, helpless children will grow up all too soon. Parents are defenseless when it comes to protecting their children from perhaps that one bad choice that will forever alter the course of their lives.
When I was that twelve year old kid ready to launch into the world of campfire songs and wacky messy games and rope course team buildings, I had imagined that I would grow up to be musician who lived in the streets of New York City and had the power to magically changed the world. But life didn't happen that way. Instead I turned sixteen and had a baby. I eventually broke up with my baby's father and graduated from college with a degree that would allow me to work in law firm and assit in the defense of billion dollar corporations. Instead of moving to New York City I have stayed close to my neighborhood and my family. Instead of questioning my faith in God for all eternity (as I was sure I was distended to do when I almost entirely refused to be confirmed at twelve) my faith has become the one thing of which I am certain.
Some people believe that God has revealed His Truth to us and not other - the barbarians - and it is His will that we Train our children to know his Truth that they might grow to vanquish the others and be protected when death and destruction rain down from Heaven. Others believe that our understanding of God is incomplete but that He has bestowed Grace and this beautiful world on us, and other gifts, which should be shared, and we should walk softly and give thanks and praise His Name.
I'm not sure how we did on the softly part, but this weekend we tought the children to do a lot of walking, and sharing and appreciating of beauty - even those ants... and the roach in the cabin. While I came away from the weekend exhausted and I sit here Monday afternoon with a body that is reminding me rock climbing was never meant to be my calling, I give thanks for this day and the weekend, which was perfect.