Dear Young People,
Let’s talk about Robin Williams for a sec, shall we? Not the fact that he was brilliant - we’ll save that for a different day. I’m talking about the Robin Williams specifically in Dead Poets Society - the 1989 coming of age drama that wrecked my life (slightly exaggerating, slightly not exaggerating).
INTO THE WOODS
So Robin - he’s an English teacher at an all-boys prep school known for its prestige...class...uniformity. Long story short, Robin (aka Mr. Keating) invites the young men in his class to embrace the beauty of literature, specifically poetry, and to break free from the standards and expectations that the students are seemingly held to. Inspired by their teacher’s passion, the boys resurrect an old tradition that has been banned from the school: A “Dead Poets Society”, where they sneak away at night and basque in the literary works of the greats. The simple rule is that every meeting must open with the following lines read aloud:
"I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately...I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life! To put to rout all that was not life...and not, when I come to die, discover that I had not lived."
Henry David Thoreau
My fear, upon watching this movie and praying with this poem, was not that I would never suck out all the marrow of life. My fear was not that I would never put to rout all that was not life.
My fear was that I would never go into the woods to begin with. My fear, upon coming into contact with these lines, was that I, in the depth of my being, would allow myself to be okay with living a mediocre life...that when laying on my deathbed, I would discover that I had not lived.
Here’s a public S/O to Robin Williams and Henry David Thoreau, but mostly Jesus, for calling me higher.
ALIVE + Dangerous
These past few weeks we have been working our way through our Life Night Series: Alive and Dangerous, where we dove into our own desires - the desires on every Human Heart - for love and for an extraordinary life. We began by acknowledging the ache within us to be truly alive, and meditated on the fact that we were created from love, the trinitarian love of God; we were created for love, for a relationship with the person of Christ; and we were created to love, to will the good of another.
Naming our desires also means being honest with ourselves about the things we use to fill the ache we have for something more. The Lord promises to satisfy us (John 6:35), but oh how often we seek ulterior forms of contentment in attempts to be made whole! With our consumer culture, this night touched on how we as young people are overfed, yet starving. Overfed from everything we shove into our lives, starving from the lack satisfaction received therein.
How do I feel after binge watching Netflix or YouTube?
How do I feel after scrolling Instagram for an hour?
Now, how do I feel after I sit down for an unplugged meal with friends?
How do I feel after going for a hike with people I love?
After having truly honest conversation with Jesus?
The questions are not merely a condescending “finger wag” at modern technology and its impact on culture -- its a question of the heart:
What am I using to fill a void that only Christ can fill?
Do I trust him enough, if I gave him my recreation and time in prayer, to actually satisfy as he so promises?
With the things I consume, how free am I to become the person I was created to be?
Drawing from St. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, part 3 of our series invited us to consider the ways in which we experience false forms of love - forms of love contrary to the Trinitarian model by which our hearts are designed.
Sex. yep. We talked about it. Even more so, we discussed the beauty of the nuptial meaning of the body (CCC 2331) - the fact that our bodies have the capability to mirror the love of God - and all of the joy, confusion, and sometimes hurt, that comes with it.
*Breaks out in song and head motions to "What is Love", by Haddaway*
The question of how to love is a question of how to live. Extraordinary lives are forged by loving extraordinarily, not by settling for a counterfeit.
Rounding out our series, we unpacked the definition of holiness. Rather than a means by which we turn our noses up and revel in being “holier than thou”, it is an invitation to live differently than the rest of the world - to live "set apart".
Holiness and joy go hand and hand - it's no secret; however, a life of holiness is not always fun and games and pizza parties at Youth Group. For the glory of God, men and women throughout the ages have sacrificed their lives for the Gospel - for living lives set apart - which reminds us that (1) the mission of the Church is real, and (2) holiness is dangerous. It is dangerous because we are invited to die to ourselves - come mockery or martyrdom - and live a life of abundance in Christ, with Christ, for the salvation of souls.
Scared? Fret not! Pope Francis reminds us that there is no better way to live:
"Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God. Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God’s grace"
Gaudete et Exsultate, Rejoice and Be Glad
Jesus, I want to enter the woods. I want to live deliberately...to suck out all the marrow of life, and not, when I come to die, discover that I haven’t lived. I want to be extraordinary, but I don’t always know how. Look upon my heart, oh Lord, and know me. Inspire me to the life of love and abundance for which you have created me, and show me your face. I want nothing, if not you, Lord.
An Unworthy Servant