Notes from Handel's Hallelujah Chorus still hung in the air. Applause, hugs, and congratulations had been received. The Christmas concert, a resounding success.
Guests milled about the sanctuary, so they retreated to the privacy of a small chapel. One by one, long black dresses and tuxedos appeared. The doors swung shut, silencing the extraneous. Lights softly illumined beautiful stained glass.
A hush fell as they gathered.
Black music folders lay forgotten in red padded pews. Discarded bow ties littered the well-worn railing.
The rest of the orchestra had put way their instruments and gone home. I sat unnoticed toward the back packing up my flute as the heartwarming scene unfolded. I was an intruder. A privileged spectator.
Near the altar, an unbroken circle of over thirty teenagers and two adults stood hand in hand. As the high school choir director spoke, all eyes looked expectantly to him. His words of affirmation swaddled those precious young people. Praises for music well sung for their school, their families, guests, and most importantly, God Almighty.
But they had gathered to say goodbye.
Their visiting music intern was returning to college to complete his degree. He had worked with the kids all semester teaching them music. Affirming their talents. Weaving confidence into their lives.
And he was loved.
Even though I had never met him, that circle revealed volumes about the college intern. Only special people touch the heart of a teenager.
The choir director began the prayer time, and invited seniors to pray in turn. He asked the music intern to close out the prayer.
One by one, the choir director and seniors poured love like oil over that amazing young man. Through laughter and words choked with emotion, they let him know the profound impact he had made on their lives.
Tears flowed freely. Theirs and mine.
Beautiful, simple prayers. Nothing profound; but all heartfelt. They each thanked him for enriching their lives with small kindnesses that added up to priceless. They prayed for his safe travel. A successful college finish. For God to bless him abundantly. And asked God to bring him back to visit.
They didn't want to be forgotten. They know adults can forget teenagers. Dismiss them as unimportant. Irrelevant. Screw ups.
As his turn came about, the intern struggled to form words, overcome by the palpable love captured in that circle. He expressed gratitude to the choir director, praying blessings over him and his gifted mentoring. He thanked God for the joy of working with such incredible young people, praying blessings over their lives and continued studies.
A more touching scene I have never witnessed.
Wherever God takes that young man, the memory of a cherished prayer circle will go with him. Forever etched in his soul. Cradled in his heart.
To remind him that he made a difference.
As I sat there in awe, I prayed: God let me see them.
As the busyness of life clamors for attention, sometimes I don't notice the young people God puts around me. As 2012 dawns, I pray God opens my eyes wide. To see and invest in the lives of young people.
That music intern didn't ask for their admiration. Or demand their respect. He didn't woo them with worldly gifts.
He invested time.
Gave his heart.
Infused God's love.
May it be said of me, Lord.
Discussion: How do you invest in the lives of young people? What works? What doesn't?