this is a letter I read to our students our last night at Element St. Johns. We felt it really fit the mood and anticipation for our futures….. It is an excerpt of a blog from our good friends Jamie and Byron from ‘To Write Love on Her Arms’.
i hope you feel less alone when you look in the mirror. i hope it reminds you of community, that you’re part of a bigger thing. i hope it sparks some conversation that brings change like a fire on the coldest night.
You’ll need more than us. You’ll need more and better. You’ll need other people. You’ll need people to help you process, people to help you let go, people to help you remember what’s true and people to help you forget what’s lies. You’ll need the stories and advice of people with gray hair or white hair or no hair at all. Don’t buy the lie that suggests they have nothing to offer or nothing to say – they were young once too. They are stories still going and they’ve seen the places you will go. They’ve been stuck at times as well, just like you and me and everyone.
You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.
We’re saying the story doesn’t end here, that the air in your lungs is there for a reason. Perhaps we’re all in the business of better endings, you as much as us, the business of redemption. Yours and mine and all the characters around us, and perhaps that bigger thing. i’ll steal from Bono here and tell you that i believe we’re far from alone in this, that God’s been at this for a long time, this business of buying things back, making things new. If this is starting to sound too Churchy or spiritual, i’ll simply say that i believe God…(cares)… about your life, about your story, about your pain. And if those possibilities feel too far or they just sound weird, then rest now and we’ll get back to people….
This is a guest blog from a great friend of mine, Tom Lester. He’s headed up our high school band for the past 19 months at ‘Element St. Johns’. This entry, written Jan. 15,speaks so much to what Element has been, & to the pain of 2009 – as we’ve lost 4 all under the age of 34 in just one month.
Last night, instead of having our normal Wednesday night youth service (called “Element“), we had a memorial service for two of our teens that died in a car wreck. It was a sobering experience for sure. This photo was taken at the table where kids wrote notes, prayers, and memories for their friends and left it at the table.
Those who know me well know that I’m not big “griever”. However, those who know me well also know that I do get deeply saddened by events like this. My son asked me last night if I was sad for the two kids who died. I told him “no… but I am sad about the pain that their friends and family are going through”. I didn’t know them well. I didn’t really even know them at all, but I know they were loved by many who will miss them dearly. For me, dying isn’t the sad part. It’s the void in the lives left behind that is sad.
Last night, I found myself thinking of lyrics to a song by Peter Gabriel as I watched the tears flow down many kids faces. Peter writes, “There’s nothing yet has really sunk in, Looks like it always did”. When I showed up last night, it was like any other night. Even with with photos of the kids, candles, and cards it was hard to “get it” that two of our teens were gone. I don’t even think their friends were getting it. I saw some walk around the place with a smile on their face, laughing with friends and then it would hit them and their face would change. Tears would roll down their face. Even if it was just for a moment.
I grieve for those left behind that have to deal with the new huge void in their lives.
It was only one hour ago
It was all so different then
Theres nothing yet has really sunk in
Looks like it always did
This flesh and bone
Its just the way that you would tied in
Now theres no-one home