Wednesday, August 8, 2012

High schoolers

The group of four students and one adult startled me. They had just biked to the monastery from the ferry after getting up at the crack of dawn and driving to Anacortes from Bellingham. It was only 9:30 when they arrived. 

After the group of thirty, the meekness and resilience of this small group had not been what I was expecting. There was Angus, with his son and daughter, another girl and Magdalene with fiery red hair. Mother Hildegard had two of the girls join me in cutting yet another box of broccoli before pulling out harmful weeds bigger than ourselves in a field so that the cows wouldn’t eat them. The others went back and forth from the beach, collecting pebbles that would go around the monastery chapel and gardens. It was a slow but seemingly steady day. 

It shouldn’t have been steady. It didn’t start off that way. The group woke up around 5:30. They drove almost two hours before getting on a 45 minute ferry. They biked to the monastery. Some didn’t make it. One girl, who seems to have not ridden a bike in a while, managed to lose control of her bike and fall off the edge of the road almost thirty feet, hitting her head. When the group told me she was consequently airlifted by a helicopter, I couldn’t help but have flashbacks of my own experience.

What were they doing here? She was stable, they said, suffering from concussion, and had to be airlifted because the accident was on an island more than anything else. The fact that they continued to come, the group down by three as the others went back to the mainland, surprised me. They were, as Magdalene had explained to her friends back home, “leaving for a day to hang out with nuns.” But it was more than that. The group ended up amazing me. High schoolers speaking with me about God at I level I have barely reached. High schoolers who understood the meaning of their religion and have found their own beauty in it. High schoolers who decided to pray as a group on our walk to the beach for the girl who had gotten hurt. High schoolers who had woken up at 5:30 and made the long trip, accidents and all, “to hang out with nuns for the day.”  

Age is just a number.