Today was the first gathering of our junior youth group in 2011, so we made resolutions.

Each of us made:

  • one school resolution
  • one spiritual resolution
  • one fun resolution
  • one resolution for our group.

We talked a lot about how we decide upon and meet goals, played an active game about maintaining focus, and read the story of the rabbit and the turtle from Walking the Straight Path, which fit perfectly.

Most of the school goals involved reading more books; our kids get pretty good grades, on the whole.

Fun goals were mostly about sports.  Shakur’s fun goal was to play more basketball, and Jordan’s was to play more football.  So Shakur’s goal was to help his brother get better at football, and Jordan’s was to help Shakur get better at basketball!  It was pretty adorable.  All of us collectively resolved to play outside more this year.

Other spiritual goals involved being more thankful and courageous (these guys are pros at using the language of virtues now).

But the group resolutions!

We resolved to do more service projects (they were especially excited by the idea of visiting the local nursing home), get together with other junior youth groups, do more skits and art projects, and go on field trips around Cincinnati.

But they (not the adults, the 11-14 year olds in the group) decided that they really wanted to get back on track with memorizing their long quotation again.

Let me repeat: the self-determined New Year’s resolution for 2011 as a junior youth group was to MEMORIZE MORE.

They love it.  They love how smart it makes them feel.  The love the pride and accomplishment.  And they want that feeling every single week, not just willy-nilly, whenever we’ve got the time.  We’ll make the time.

This group has been through a lot of challenges in the last year.  Moves, new schools, dividing families, uncertainty, and confusion.  There’s no end in sight for these challenges in 2011.  But I know it’s going to be an amazing year for us, too.

Here’s the long quotation we’ve been working on.  The section in bold is what the group already knows by heart.

“Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

This is heavy stuff, definitely not written with 13-year-olds in mind.  It takes a lot of discussion to even understand what the individual words mean, and then the concepts and metaphors require more discussion on top of that.  But they get it.  And they want more of this in their lives.

And when I look at these young people, I see a breath of life to the body of mankind, I see a luminary above the horizon of virtue, and most surely a shining light in the firmament of their generation.

They’ve got the resolutions, and they’ve got the resolve.

Now it’s my job to help them make it all happen.

Happy Gregorian New Year, everyone.