Tuesday, July 10, 2012

pondering wild goslings: open mic at the youth tent

As Ian Cron was wrapping up his talk on Post-cynical Christianity, a volunteer took the mic to inform us that radar indicated a storm system was rolling in.  By this point it was nearly 100 degrees and miserably muggy, so the threat of rain was more than welcome.  But we'd left the rain fly off our tent for better circulation, so I ran off to take care of that while my friend Meredith made her way to the youth tent; our girls were participating in the Open Mic session, set to begin there any minute.  I got the fly on and secured our things as quickly I could, desperate not to miss their big debut.

Sarah as back-up dancer
I made it just in time!

I honestly can't even remember what they sang (I think it was Firework?) but I do remember how happy it made me, to see all the kids bravely taking the stage to share their passions/talents.  They were celebrating themselves and one another, and that made me smile.

We'd given up a lot this past year, in some ways, when we made the choice to move on from a church we'd enjoyed for almost a decade.  Opportunities like this were numerous there - and while they aren't the most important thing, they are something.  The church where we worship now is rich in many other ways, but there have been times when (whether it makes sense or not), I've felt sad.  So, seeing these kids cut loose and perform for one another in the youth tent was like a little gift wrapped in a bow.  If nothing else (and I do believe there will be "something else's") but, IF nothing else, once a year we will gather with other wild geese and goslings .... they will spend as much concentrated time with like-minded friends and mentors across the span of 4 days as many a Sunday-morning or Wednesday-night, combined... and it will mean something.  A great deal of somethings, I'd venture.

If you'd told me my son Aaron would also grace the Open Mic stage, I'd have responded with a chuckle and a "Yeah, right."  There was a time when he would ham it up with the best of them, but the past couple of years he's become a genuine "tween", cautiously navigating that thin line between childlike and mature, carefree and cool.  As much as I'd love for him to remain inhibition-free, I know this is a necessary process - one I'll be happy to see him reach the other side of.  So, when he told me he'd signed up for the next day's Open Mic I stifled my surprise and excitement (for his benefit). I simply smiled and asked, "Can I watch?"  He pursed his lips and nodded.

The sign up sheet read, "Aaron McConnell - Funny stories".  I'm not sure there is an anxiety to be compared with waiting for your almost-12-year-old son to try being funny in front of a bunch of kids who are older than he is.  I thought I might be sick (but it could have been the heat).  I smiled a confident smile as he situated himself on the stool, adjusted the mic, and began.  I held my breath ... told myself that these were good kids, no matter what it would be okay ... but he was a hit!  He picked stories he'd practiced on us before, that have gone over well (as any comedian-in-training knows, many don't!)  He got lots of smiles, a modest applause, and one of the older teenage girls asked him if he planned to go into stand-up.  He just smiled that crooked, shy smile that I find especially winsome.  And with that, my no-longer-a-gosling-not-quite-a-gander added a few credits to his confidence account.  

Later, I'll share about the time Brian McLaren spent talking with us in the youth tent.  I learned a lot.  Aaron fell asleep. :)

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