This weekend I am taking some teenagers from my youth group on a retreat into nature. We’re camping at the beautiful Crabtree Falls campground and will spending some intentional time with the Lord. I don’t think the group that is going realizes they will be encountering God yet. This is often the hardest part of youth ministry for me. Teenagers tend to be staring down a certain path that takes them to a different place until someone comes along and says, “hey, look over here at this path.” For instance, most teens I’ve been around go on a retreat to be with friends and have fun. Rarely is encountering the living God the path they plan on walking down (maybe this is our fault just a bit). Of course, they are more ready than anyone else besides children to walk down that path once it is shown to them but that is the hard part. So here is how we’re going to walk this weekend. I pray the kids come along with me.
We are going to immerse into the mundane by setting up tents after our long drive. Then we’ll share a meal together of the most basic type. After this, we’ll head to our hiking trail which stretches alongside a waterfall for a couple miles. Once we arrive and are a bit tired, focused, distracted, sweaty, and joyful, I’m going to lead us in the following time near a beautiful pool of water where the falls begin.
1) Ask for everyone’s phones
2) Give everyone a journal and a pen
3) Ask everyone to spend time reflecting on the following questions:
a. Do you want to know God? Why do you want to know God?
b. What keeps you from knowing God?
c. The First Meditation – On Our Creation:
There is a bit too much to this to write here but I think the following are appropriate and beautiful: 1) Consider that a certain number of years ago you were not yet in the world and that your present being was truly nothing. My soul, where were we at that time? The world had already existed for a long time, but of us there was as yet nothing. 2) God has drawn you out of that nothingness to make you what you now are and he has done so solely out of his own goodness and without need of you. 3) Consider the nature God has given to you. It is the highest in this visible world; it is capable of eternal life and of being perfectly united to his Divine Majesty. (Intro to Devout Life – Francis De Sales, pg 41)
This meditation is a bit longer and I’m going to ask the kids to write a prayer based on the leadings of de Sales words. The above are called “considerations” that hopefully will help immerse us further into an experience of God.
If this sparked anything creative in you mind, I’d love to hear it. Leave me a note.