The challenge I’ve always found in contributing to an event like Youth 2011 is finding a feeding balance that makes the thing worthwhile. Sometimes you find it in new relationships, sometimes in meaningful worship, and sometimes in some time alone with family. I’m blessed this go ’round to have my wife and two boys along. Until today due to the harried setup schedule we’d kinda been maintaining separate visits to the Purdue campus, mostly spending time together asleep. In fact, mostly me assuring them that I’d been there for some amount of time while they slept.

Tonight we got to catch up a bit. After dinner at Pappy’s, I let mom go back to a quiet bath by herself while I took the boys to “a concert with the most of daddy’s friends ever” (youth in general have always been dubbed “daddy’s friends” by my 4 & 6 year old sons). We hung out on the left edge of the balcony until I was pretty sure we were bothering the want-to-listen-to-the-story-about-the-song crowd, so we ducked the tape into the closed upper balcony for some alone time.

After the band and the news that “guys, this man is probably gonna talk for a while,” we split and hung out at the fountain that probably has a name (there’s a big picture of it in my hotel room) and then went to play hide-n-seek on the front steps/courtyard of one of the campus building. I dominated them, if you’re scoring at home. After dropping them & a slice of Reese’s pie off with mom, I ran back up to the sacred space area to find Gavin before a certain late-night run for supplies.

Oops, barged in on a prayer circle. “Join us,” said a voice.

“Sorry, just trying to find Gavin,” I offered.

The voice turned out to be coming from a UMC bishop, and he did that singular bishop move where you can’t tell if he’s countering what you said by repeating what he said because he didn’t hear you or if he’s repeating it because he DID hear you and is re-emphasizing what HE said, overruling what you said. “Join us,” he said again.

So, naturally, I sat down. I was gaspy and such, having run up to the 3rd floor. And late, apparently, for whatever this was. It turned out to be my most peaceful moment of the day. I’d encountered the edge of the peacefulness of our space all day; a youth painting over here, another attaching a prayer to a string over here. But I was just circling it, never really making contact. Here, finally, I sat and dwelt. We shared concerns for ourselves and others. We closed our prayer in the way that Jesus taught his disciples. And we did that thing that Methodists, when things are just right, do so well: we united. I don’t remember the names of the people in the circle, but I remember their concerns. And I’ll continue to remember them.

Lord, hear our prayer.