I’m seated on the bed at the camp for small group time at our annual youth retreat.
All around me are girls – some in middle school – some in high school – all thinking about the things the speaker had just finished talking about…
ALL waiting for me to have some story that will make it all make sense to them.
Don’t we all wish that from time to time? Someone who will just make everything that we’ve been feeling make sense and be o.k… I know I do from time to time.
It’s right in the middle of that awkwardly silent part, the one where I’m wondering if anyone is going to talk tonight. It definitely feels like there is that proverbial “elephant” in the room.
I’m wondering who will break the silence.
Then, she begins talking.
And then another…
As I listen to their stories, I am heartbroken as to how all of this shame and guilt could have built up in their hearts in such short lives – some of them are only 13 years old. I know that as a teacher, I have seen some horrid situations, so I should be prepared…
But, I NEVER AM.
I continued to listen as these girls pour their hearts out to me and the other leader in the room; I was at a loss for words. Stories of depression, severe anxiety, bullying, cutting, fears of being unwanted and unloved, making attempts to take their own lives…
I didn’t really have immense wisdom to share with them that night. But, I don’t think that I was supposed to. What unfolded was simply amazing.
I watched as one girl (I might have prodded this situation…just a little…) stepped up to the plate. She simply laid her hand on one girl’s shoulder. Her story was heart wrenching and she was shaking.
A hand outstretched is such a powerful thing…
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
I found myself several days later still thinking about that moment, seemingly frozen in time.
I just couldn’t shake the thought that they are too young to carry the weight of these things on their frail shoulders. Or at least they seem to think that they have to carry it on their own…
Thankfully, they are surrounded by those that can remind them just how much God loves them…even when they can’t see it. They are surrounded by those that can hold out an outstretched hand…even when they think no one sees them. They are surrounded by those that will listen…when they feel that their voice is so small it cannot be heard. They are surrounded by those that can just be with them when they need to let it all out.
It was in thinking about these things that I created a poem. I don’t typically share my own poetry, so this is new and a little difficult for me. Until I had the opportunity to hear I writer I respect say that everyone has a voice – we just have to work to find it. I’m still working to find mine. This blog and my poetry has helped a lot.
The assignment I gave my class was a blackout poem. It starts with a book page, and the words you choose to use in the poem have to appear on the page in the order you choose to use them – the rest get “blacked out”.
; Take My Hand
It’s not logical;
it’s not kind.
No one believes me.
I began to slip away…
The more I thought about it – I felt ashamed.
I just wanted to convince myself…
to take my mind off…
keep me from feeling sad.
I swallow down my shame.
I believed a lie.
My friend called to me.
It was dark –
like the middle of the night.
Come to the moment!
I know you’ve been struggling with how to make it.