We have a busy summer coming up… Boy do I wish I was a teenager for this summer.
The youth program at our church is a fantastic program. I grew up involved in the program, and while I drool at some of the opportunities the youth have in areas of the world that have a more densely populated program, I think our kids have a great summer planned.
And can I just say, before “church program” brings images of tortured teenaged sitting in bible class, it’s not like that… Ok they do have a form of “bible class” (called seminary and is attended by kids aged 14-18 in the early morning — as opposed to “release time” from school in more heavily populated LDS areas – where it’s like a class they attend at school), but please picture groups of kids excited to get together and meet other groups of kids….there’s a whole lot of socializing and schmoozing that happens. It’s great too because it’s a whole other social outlet aside from school….
Anyhow, Rob is in charge of the youth males, age 12-18 in our area. He puts a ton of work in for those boys, but is having a great time doing it too. This summer there are three main events for the youth:
1) A summer camp for boys age 12-13 on the Ottawa River, which Josh will attend and is super excited to get a Swiss Army knife (a tradition we started for their first year of camp), and all the snacks I pack him. I think he’s also super excited about the daily notes I will send him with little thoughts and I love you’s. Ha. Zandra will attend the girls version of the camp too – it’s for all ages.
2) A youth leadership conference – with kids 14-18 from all areas – usually around 800 youth, held at a local university. Gabe went last year and LOVED it and said he wished it was for 2 weeks rather than 4 days. So that tells you how much fun it is….and how we don’t have to bribe him to go. It’s a real highlight. I’m hopefully going to be able to tag along on this one to be an adult leader (which he is concerned I may become “house mother” to a “certain” girl he has been spending a lot of time with….)
3) A trip to Nauvoo, Illinois, where there are some historic sites for the LDS faith. Rob is going on that one as an adult leader and has the exciting responsibility of running a “conference on wheels” — workshops to keep 80 teens occupied during the 15 hour drive each way.
So he has been doing tons of reading, thinking, creating and is planning on doing multiple workshops and activities, including a workshop about technology.
The other day he shared with me some info he had read about the amount of time we spend on techology. We started talking about how we fill all our time… We are early for appointment, we check our emails. We are lazing around the house, we surf the net. A TV commercial comes on, we catch up on our social media. We fill all the “little gaps” in our life.
I do have to say, I’m queen of filling gap time. And truthfully, that is HOW I get things done – so it’s not all about technology for me. Early for an appointment? I’ll run into the grocery store to pick up a few things we need. Soccer practice runs late? I’ll catch up on some work paperwork that I have brought with me in anticipation of soccer running late. Ready earlier than usual before heading out the door? I will likely unload that dishwasher or give the bathroom a quick clean. I use every second that is allotted to me.
Which is good, because that is how I can get things done efficiently.
And bad, because I don’t benefit from any quiet time.
In discussion with Rob, he had been reading articles about how we have no time for creativity, no time for thinking, no time for spirituality. Our creative inspirations often come during shower time, or as we are drifting off to bed, as that is the only time we leave for “nothingness.” It’s the only gap time we don’t fill. We tend to fill all the time that we could use for these things with other stuff – such as technology.
What he is working on with sharing with the kids, is recognizing “gap time” and using it in different ways – other than filling it with technology time. He wants them to “mind the gap”; recognize we need some time to allow for inspiration to come, to appreciate nature, beauty, and to connect with our souls. We may choose to use that time to really be present, face to face with someone, or to contemplate some problem we may have. We can pray, meditate or just be still.
So, Rob and I have been making a conscious effort of recognizing gap time, and then minding what we fill it with. For example, when walking home from an errand, I left my phone in my purse and just enjoyed looking at houses, hearing the birds and walking. While out for dinner, I got up to go to the bathroom. Rob usually would pull out his phone to check his email, but instead, he said he just sat there and was just quiet.
Rob’s hope is that he can encourage the youth to start noticing how they fill their gaps, and encourage them to allow time for inspiration, creativity and spirit; and to spend time face to face with others and learn to be still with themselves. Since he is putting the challenge out to them, I figured it was a great challenge for me too!
Mind the gap – what are you filling the gaps with?