The state was Ohio, I don’t remember the city, but I will never forget the moment. I was about to speak to a several hundred teenagers who had spent the day playing wild games at a YFC Campus Life event.
A local farmer plowed a football sized field next to the church then the fire department soaked it with thousands of gallons of water.
The result was the gooiest mess of sticky black slime I had ever seen.It was in this quagmire the teens were to compete in what Campus Life called a “Mud Bowl” A series of athletic events designed to get them covered in mud from head to toe. Then immediately afterward they were invited to hear a band and my talk – inside a brand new church!
Do you see where this is going? My mind began to race. How were these adults going to deal with 200 mud-covered teenagers in a pristine new church? And WHY did they agree to this certain catastrophe in the first place. I remember meeting a youth leader who had been fired because one of his students had accidentally scratched a pew during a music concert.
I peeked into the church to discover that the leaders had covered every bit of floor and furniture with black plastic. How many hours did that take? These were people that loved kids. I felt a lump in my throat.
I stepped outside just as the games finished and noticed a mountain of towels that had been lent to the church by the YMCA. The fire truck had returned, and black plastic had been spread everywhere. The teenagers formed a long line and as each stepped forward an elderly deacon hosed them down with the fire hose and another handed each kid a towel.
No grumpy warnings or threats from these men with wrinkled faces and bent bodies, only broad welcoming smiles. I was so moved by the compassion and spirit of these guys that I had to ask the question stumbling in my brain.
I stepped up to the elderly deacon holding the fire hose. “Why do you do this?” I asked.
“Why do all this work and take the risk getting your new church dirty? He broke into a huge smile that pushed the wrinkles to the edge of his face.
I don’t know about the other guys, he said, but I do it because deep in my heart I enjoy seeing this……. Then he opened the valve on the fire hose and blew the next teen in line 9 ft across the black plastic. I laughed until I hurt. Everybody laughed.
There were no OLD people at the church that day. Just a bunch of seventeen year old hearts, some of them wrapped in wrinkled packages and some with fresh young faces being blasted along the ground by a fire hose. So how young is your heart?
When was the last time you felt the heart of a seventeen year old beat inside your chest?
When was the last time an older person with a young heart touched your life?[reminder]
Whenever I see a hopscotch board drawn on the sidewalk I cant help but follow it, generally to the amusement of other adults and the horror of teenagers… keeping a young heart always is the key, or at least one of them, to true happiness….that and eating an ice cream cone. You can’t be grumpy when you have a cone with sprinkles.
Today is my 67th b’day and I needed this gentle reminder. Thanks
I work as a bagger at a local grocery store. Some of the “elderly” that go through the lanes are the most precious, rambunctious, joyful people I have ever met. They are a hoot to talk to. Their unique perspective on life has broadened my thoughts and hopes and dreams for the future. I want to have that same spunk and energy 60 years from now.
my little secret,even though i am 68,i love to color,with all your crayons laying about and not have to share with anyone unless you want to,i love to share with my bestest friend Johnye
she likes to color,too