Wednesday, June 22, 2011

life as it is right now

It's Wednesday, which means I'm a little late in writing this blog. But I have an excuse (you get to decide if it's good)! On Monday the LDP (Leadership Development Program) staff was hiking across the Kinsman ridge trail. We climbed up North and South Kinsman and stayed at the Kinsman Pond AMC site that evening. So I'm a little burnt out from that experience, both mentally and physically. I have the funky crew-sock sunburn line to prove it.

Last week I was in KC for a couple of days, Columbus for a couple of days, and New Hampshire for a couple of days. My feet don't quite know what to do now that they have found the place they will be staying in for two months. I was in Columbus for Chris Gatton and Jessica Davis' wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the reception was a blast. Usually I describe myself as not having any excitement left for weddings, but this one brought back some. Seeing two people who belong together commit to each other was amazing, and I'm still reeling from the words these two individuals spoke to join themselves together. I'm reminded of when the Bible speaks about angels looking upon salvation with wonder and wanting to understand them. Right now I can't comprehend what it means to do that, and I can only hope that when I meet the person for me I will be a little further along than I am now.

Now I'm at Brookwoods. The first day of our hike, which just so happened to be my first day at camp, was one of the worst ones in a while. I didn't think I could make it, I thought that I would fail as a counselor, and figured that I should just go home. But after the first night I woke up with a new-found hope. It was a similar experience that C.S. Lewis explains in the second book of his space trilogy: the narrator (Lewis) is walking to a house that Dr. Elwin Ransom is staying at and seems to run into some sort of force that doesn't want him there. He starts doubting the truth of Ransom, the sanity of both himself and his friend, and is sorely tempted to turn around. But he makes it through and the rest of the story happens. I don't know if demons influence us that much, but there was a definite force on this hike that didn't want me to be at Brookwoods. This may have been my own self-doubt, but it may have also been something more sinister.

I don't know what the rest of the summer will look like, but these are the things I'm looking forward to:

  • Campers coming on Sunday
  • Canoeing on the Saco a week from Friday
  • The Allagash during week three for eight or nine days. Should probably figure out how long we'll be gone for.
  • Six day hike at the end of the summer.
  • The opportunity to spend eight weeks with the same people.
I'll try to post once a week, but don't be suprised when it isn't on Monday. My PowerBook G4 isn't on the pack list for these trips, turns out.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

mr. luke and the disappearing identity

First off, apologies for the lateness of this post. I hope that the subject matter of it will help you to understand why it's so late.

Right now I am sitting in an Embassy Suites hotel room in Columbus, Ohio. I'm up here for Chris Gatton and Jessica Davis' wedding, and I couldn't be happier about it. I left KC at 6:00 AM, arrived about five hours later, and have been going non-stop since then. Tomorrow/today/Friday will include the wedding and me staying with the new friends I made. Then on Saturday I leave Columbus at 7:20, land in Boston around noon, and will be at camp around dinnertime. After that the summer really starts.

While up here, and even before, people ask what I plan on doing after camp. This comes after my explanation and reasons for being a twenty-four year-old who plans on living at his parents house after he goes to camp for the summer. And I have no answer for them. I don't know who or what I want to be when I grow up. I have the beginnings of an idea, but have not been able to think through it. Which made me think about why I can't think through it. I have nothing if I don't have my meta-cognition, right?

For the past two years I was working at Harvest Hands, and if you want to see how I feel about that just read my last post. But because I had thrown so much of myself into the Harvest I lost something: my identity. I became a coffee roaster, an after-school program mentor, or to put it simply: Mr. Luke. I became what I had to in order to make that job work, and I did an ok job at it. But now that I am finished at Harvest Hands I'm presented with the unique problem of attempting to work out who I am without Harvest Hands. I tried very hard to think about it the last week of work, but to no avail. It felt like my feet were not grounded anywhere. I was trying to figure out how to walk on solid ground while in the ocean. I felt like Elwin Ransom in "Perelandra." And as far as I can tell it's just going to take some time to get my sea legs.

So my goal for the fall isn't to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. It's to figure out who the heck I am. I hope to get some of this accomplished while at Brookwoods, but I don't know if that's gonna happen. When I get back to Kansas City I plan on cultivating old and new relationships, I plan on helping people out in special ways, and I plan on learning more about me and you.

I hope (and pray) that I end up finding my identity in Christ. I'll continue to attempt to do so, I just hope that He helps me along the way.


Monday, June 6, 2011

goodbye harvest hands

I was looking at my calender this evening and realized that this week has been the weed I've been looking forward to for the past two months. Though when I say "looking forward" I mean that in the most literal way possible. I have been scrolling through the months on my phone and wondering what the 6th thru the 10th of June were going to be like. You see, Friday is my last day at work.

I first started with Harvest Hands in January of 2009, though my first experience with "The Harvest" was in the fall of 2008. I went to what is now the old Harvest House and met Jocelyne who at once insisted that I help her with the soap making. Not feeling too sure of myself I did just that, because Brian Hicks wasn't quite ready to meet. When I finally went into that back bedroom Brian explained what they did and I explained what I needed for my practicum. We agreed that I would come in on Mondays from noon to six and Wednesdays from three to eight (for MIMIC). That lasted the entire semester, and then I said goodbye to everyone there. The following summer was spent at Brookwoods, but while I was there I recieved this e-mail from Brian:


Just wanted to send you a note to say hi and let you know that we miss 
you here in Nashville.
Congrats on your graduation--you did an excellent job with us this 

I hope that your summer is going well and I trust that God is doing 
great things in your life.

I was talking with our MIMIC guys the other day and they all agree 
that you are their favorite mentor and they
hope to see you again soon.

Your friend,
Mr. Brian"

Looking back I can still feel how special this made me feel. I didn't respond, but got another e-mail from Brian asking if I was going to be around in the fall, which I said I was. But I also said that I needed a job and if he could give me one that would be great. I ended up with a part-time job at Harvest Hands which I worked into a full time job in January of 2010.

The past two years have been totally different that any I've experienced to this point. There have been struggles and it's been hard. I've come home worn down, like the patch of grass right in front of my front porch. But I kept going back, and never once considered quitting as a solution to the difficulties of ministry. But then Brian asked what I wanted to do. At this point I was working two jobs: running the after school program/mentoring program for the youth and running the coffee company. "Which do you see yourself stepping into?" he said to me. And I told him that I honestly didn't see myself doing either, which was one of the hardest conversations I've ever had. I told him that I saw myself pursuing graduate work and getting a Ph.D. with the hopes that I would teach at the collegiate level. This started me down the long path of quitting.

Then on Halloween I went to a party at Sarah Bartlett's house in Boston. I was in town for a vacation, and John Voge came to pick me up from Sean and Nicole O'Hern's place at MIT. Talking to all the people I knew from camp made me want to get back, and their encouragement to do so pushed me over the edge. I e-mailed Dave and about four months later had a job as a LDP 1 counselor waiting for me. So I told Brian my plan, and we started working towards this week. 

But this week is here now. Tomorrow is Tuesday, the second full day of camp. The day after Wednesday, the retreat. Which bleeds into Thursday. Then on Friday we go to the Zoo for our field trip. Then Saturday, Dad here, and a Drive back to KC with him and Cara. And I don't know what to feel, I don't know what I am feeling.

Perhaps that's not totally true. I'm going to miss Nashville. I am going to miss Ruben, David, Shane, Shawn, Matthew, Melody, Justin, Erik, Tylisha. I'm going to miss Brian, Courtney and Abby. I'm going to miss my mentors. to put it simply: I'm going to miss everything about Harvest Hands. 
The crazyness. Going home, closing my eyes, and hearing nothing but: "Mr. Luke! Mr. Luke! Mr. Luke!"

Shawn trying to hook me up with every girl that walks in the doors.

Making students laugh because I act stupid, and knowing that that's just who I am.

Hanging out with amazing people all the time.

All of it.

So those of you reading who are Harvest Hands: I'm gonna miss you. You've changed my life, and I won't forget that. Be ready to welcome me back in September, if only for a short while. 

Thanks for the past two years.