Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Skateboards, Seventh Grade Boys, and Community
I was waiting in the church hall to pick up my daughter from her second youth group meeting at Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana.
After songs and a lesson on Christian community, the kids had been divided into small groups and were scattered throughout the church building to get better acquainted and to discuss the lesson.
This group of six boys were the first to finish "sharing", and I heard them coming before I saw them. They crashed into the main hall, shoving and pushing into one another. They ranged in height from three to five feet, all wearing hoodies marked with Abercrombie or Aeropostale. They carried skateboards and basketballs. Their hair was shaggy - one taller boy sported a white-boy's afro nearly shrouding his pimply face.
A short dark haired boy brought up the end of the group. He looked stressed, his worried eyes were darting back and forth. "Can I use your phone?" he asked. I pointed him to the leader who handed him a cell phone.
"Mom," I heard him say. "Where are you?! I think you forgot me!" At this point, he broke into choking sobs. "Mom!" he pleaded once more. "Where are you?"
He handed back the phone to the leader and melted down. His backpack fell to the floor and he put his head down onto the table to cry.
But before the leader or I could make a move to comfort him, his buddies turned around. Those boys, who one moment before had been intent on heading out to the basketball court, now crowded in to comfort their new friend.
"Hey, dude," said the tall shaggy haired one. "I'm sure your mom didn't forget you."
"Yeah - man," said a short one. "I know your mom. She wouldn't just leave you like that."
The boy continued to sob, losing all sense of his 7th-grade dignity.
"Hey - come on," said shaggy boy. He took the backpack and put an arm around the little guy's shoulders. Together they walked out around the parking lot to look for his mom. As they talked, his sobs decreased just a bit.
Moments later, the leader's phone rang. It was the boy's mom. She was on her way.
But the crisis was over. The lesson on community that the youth pastor had so eloquently expressed earlier in the night had evidently sunk into those boys' hearts.
Their love for one another made the whole room a better place to be.