My favorite part of Samuel School (the retreat I was at this weekend, see the last couple entries) is always the end, where we debrief the weekend with the youth and each of them shares something that stood out to them particularly from the weekend and that they want to remember. Usually these end up being pretty significant experiences with God, or fairly deep theological/spiritual truths that they have come to understand in a more coherent way. It's so amazing to see these juniors and seniors in high school learn and grow so much in a weekend, and to be able to participate in giving them tools to be more grounded in their faith, ask better questions, and know how to seek the answers.
One of the things that is often a revelation for youth who attend is to realize that God is present and speaking to us all the time, it's just that we're not always paying attention. It's so cool to see their eyes light up and see the hope in them as they realize they don't do spiritual exercises to get God to show up, to manipulate God into speaking to them, to work as hard as they can so that God might come down to their level--but that God is already speaking to them, and all they have to do is put themselves in a space where they are attentive to perceive what's already happening.
We do all sorts of things over the weekend, from classes (hence the "school" part of Samuel School) to recreation to small groups to meals to hang-out-and-have-fun time. I love Samuel School because it's always an amazing group of youth who are serious about their faith, but so much fun at the same time. This weekend I rekindled my love for such games as Bump, Bloody Wink'em and Annihilation (all good Quaker games, of course!). I enjoyed laughing with people, listening in classes and learning new things even though I've heard those classes several times before, and being able to explain little things like why we sing songs to worship and what silence can be good for. I enjoyed reconnecting with youth and youthworkers I hadn't seen for a while, and being in a space where it was easy to move beyond the surface into discussions of what's important to us.
Tomorrow I'll write more specifically about what Samuel School looks like programmatically, because it sounds like some people were interested in that, and I think this program is one of the best things Northwest Yearly Meeting does. But tonight I must head to bed, because I start my internship tomorrow!