Youth find space to re-energize body and soul amid hectic schedule
by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – If you had a chance to share a cup of coffee with Jesus, what would you talk about? Young adults attending the 2016 Youth Triennium have the opportunity to imagine that conversation and record it into their personal journal at the Pause Prayer Center, a reflective and meditative antidote to the mostly high energy events that mark the triennial gathering held on Purdue University’s campus.
This year’s Triennium participants are encouraged to “GO and See” and “GO and Do” into the world; the Pause Prayer Center is a special place where they can take a break from the day’s activities, pray, reflect, and refuel as needed during the five-day event. Deb Guess, coordinator of the Pause Prayer Center, said there are approximately 20 exercises, or stations, that cater to both introverts and extroverts within the center.
“Everyone receives a journal when they walk in,” said Guess. “They’re able to personalize it as they walk through each station as well as use it to record their weekly activities.”
At the “Java with Jesus” station, young adults are encouraged to reflect on what topics or issues they would seek advice about from Jesus. They fill in comic strips with empty conversation balloons to imagine Jesus’ answer and can post it on the wall for others to see, or place it in their journal for safekeeping.
The “Exodus” station reflects on God’s instruction to Moses “to go out.” When Moses asked “why me?” God assured Moses that he would be with him throughout the journey. Participants trace their footprint onto colored paper, cut it out, and write on the footprint things that God might be calling them to do, now or in the future. Responses included;
“Take time to be grateful every day.”
“Appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.”
“Spread love and peace.”
“Go out and meet new people.”
One of the most powerful stations to witness young people gathering is the “Labyrinth” station. Walking can be a spiritual experience and a vehicle for contemplation and encountering God, so participants are invited to walk the labyrinth. Like life, the labyrinth may be a solitary experience although it’s more likely you meet others along the way so it’s important to be respectful to all you encounter. The labyrinth is someplace to pray on your feet, and reflect on God and your journey when you reach the destination in the middle.
Sophie, 15, from Hudson River Presbytery is a Triennium first-timer who attended the Prayer Center. “It was a nice place to chill out, relax, write down your thoughts for the day and just reflect,” she said. “I decorated my prayer journal, put my footprint on the ground at the Exodus station and decorated the prayer wall.”
The “Prayer Wall” displays current newspaper and magazine headlines and participants write the name of a person, country, or group they wish to lift up in prayer. After a time of prayer, fabric is tied to the prayer wall. Other stations include “Creation,” where participants sit quietly and listen to the sounds of flowing water, see images of creation in its full glory, touch the coolness of water, and feel the smoothness of stone to engage with God. “Prayer Flags” borrows from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of drawing or writing symbols and words of prayer on flags. They symbolize the idea that the wind of God will blow over the flags and turn those prayers towards him. Participants were encouraged to attach their finished prayer flag onto fishing lines strung up in the hallway.
Click to view a complete list of Pause Prayer Center stations and their descriptions.
Presbyterian Youth Triennium continues through Saturday, July 23. Presbyterian News Service will continue to post stories from the event and live event information can be found on Twitter via this link: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23pyt2016
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