sunrise: 5:26 am
Four teens joined us on Sutton Island this weekend for a retreat - part of the "Coming of Age" program that Jonathan and I have been teaching since January. It is an excellent curriculum published by the Unitarian Universalist church.
We have learned a lot about "teaching" adolescents in the course of this experience. You would think that we'd know most of it at this point, having barely finished seeing the last of our four children leave adolescence (mostly) behind. But, happily, life is ever bristling with information. We will never get it all right. We can only keep trying, keep thinking, stay open to possibilities heretofore unconsidered.
At any rate, after repeating ourselves 100 times, and realizing that so much of the INFORMATION that we were spouting might as well have been water through a sieve - we realized that the things the kids remember most are dynamic and circumstantial. The rousing game of bucket-of-nouns that we played at our first retreat stuck with them far longer than the definitions of a personal credo.
Still - this is a bright group. The bits and pieces of discussion found places in the nooks and crannies of their minds, and they will surely emerge in various forms of recognition later in life (maybe even sooner). For now - Jonathan and I learned that to engage them in activities and have some fun is, perhaps, the most important thing of all. Suddenly everyone is laughing together around a card table. Learning that you can share that companionship with a bunch of new people is as important as anything.
Now, I'm not going to say that they all embraced the idea of getting out of bed at 5:00 in the morning when it was about 40 degrees outside (and inside - fireplace was long cold). But - they did it. They got up, they went out to the rocks, they saw the sun glow rising, and the fire of the first light making its brilliant entry over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
We didn't belabor the point, or try to draw them into my own romantic imagery of meeting the day face to face with the sun. But I think it made an impression. We can afford to be patient - something will come of it.