In less than 24 hours, I should be waking up around 7 am to make sure I’m at the office, making sure our tables are still set up from the week before and the chairs are still in line. By 8:30 am the rest of our staff team would be arriving, and one of our leaders would be at the front assigning all our positions to help us transition 70 kids from the front door to each bus they belong in. And by 10 am, we would be on the road, traveling for 25 hours to arrive in Leesburg, Florida, for a week.
Unfortunately, that’s currently not an option.
The more I think about it, the more upset I get. Sure, most people are missing their Spring Break plans this year, and yes, I understand it is nothing but a privilege to be able to spend a week somewhere other than home. I can hear people in my head trying to correct my thinking. “It’s going to keep you safe.” “This is all going to be worth it and you’ll be able to go again in the future.”
But this isn’t about that feeling right now.
For those of you who don’t understand the depth of the Florida trip, let’s take another trip in the Imagination Station. Imagine your boss sets you up for a face to face conference designed for physical interaction and mental/emotional growth specifically in your field. They say its also going to be limited on hours every day with the expectation you will use the rest of the extra hours to develop relationships with other members of your company and to excel the growth throughout the week with opportune breakouts on topics you choose, with food provided.
Oh, it’s also in one of your top 3 places in the country to hangout. That sounds incredible, does it not?
My heart has felt so broken since the day three weeks ago that we had to call the trip. The Florida trip is one of most impactful weeks I’ve ever experienced. We get to play games, participate in skits, eat decent food, visit at least two amazing beaches, go to a water park…and talk about Jesus with students that haven’t really heard the news before.
In Florida, kids get to hang out with other students from around the Lansing area and experience the reality of we aren’t that different. We get to share real stories of pain and discuss how we want things to be better, and our staff gets a chance to share how we’ve determine that’s better through our radical faith. Faith that still struggles to move mountains like Covid-19, but we believe they will be overcome.
I miss the idea of waking up again every day at 6:30 am to watch the sunrise come up over the lake, while someone plays alligator mating calls on their phone. I miss the idea of getting to ride around Daytona on some flashy bicycles, like I missed out on last year, too. I miss laughing until I can’t breathe anymore, and staying up way too late in the cabin so I don’t miss the last joke that’s told.
I miss the stone faces when we present some tough reality from the stage and we have to bring it up in discussion. I miss the tears shed as we sit down in the rocking chairs or by the fire and talk about how we want to see change, and the students are asking me what they have to change. I miss getting to pray with kids that would have never had that experience unless they joined us, and how they want to choose those things because of the love they have been show this week.
I’m gonna miss all of it, and the truth doesn’t get any easier to say no matter how many times I try to say it.
Yes, there are good things coming out of this, but the yearning for memories you can’t have is one which wells up in your chest and leaks from the corners of your eyes just a little bit so you can wipe it away before someone notices. It’s like finding out your favorite restaurant no longer has your go to dish, but it’s your birthday and no one else showed up except your family and they wanted the same dish as well.
Pray for our students. Pray for the conversations that will still happen with a quiver of sadness in our voices. Pray for some sort of community no matter how distant. Pray we can find a way to explore the world from the safety of our technology.
And you can miss Florida for us too.