We took the Confirmation group to Farnborough Abbey today. Very exciting because I took the day off work, it was out of London and I got to spend the day with friends and friendly-type people talking about what is important.
I didn't enjoy it much at the time because I have a bit of a head cold, but I feel more relaxed and more myself this evening.
Our young people found two things really strange (as in alien) - the silence and nature. The Guestmaster, Brother Thomas, took us on a walk through the woods - for all of five minutes. The kids almost freaked out - "Ah, a spider", "Somethings hitting me" (a branch!) and slipping over a log that you could walk over, are just some of the highlights.
They also could not cope with the silence, or even being quiet. As soon as we were back on the coach or in a separate room for our lunch, out came the mobile phones and the MP3 players plus loud chat to create that 'comforting' hum of background noise (so called because it is unwelcome!) we seem to be surrounded by. Even in the Church and when asked, unless there was something specific to draw their attention, they talked.
Let me just relate this, which explains some of it and is also a little bothersome.
Two of the boys in my group really don't know when to shut up - in the nicest possible way. They're always asking questions and have something valid to say, but they are not so good at listening and letting others speak. I often tell my whole group to 'take a deep breath' and they all know it means to calm down and pay attention. It's evolved into a joke with these two - I just have to look at them or gesture and they smile, take deep breaths and - most importantly - shut up.
So today, we were in Church, with nothing to do but pray (!) for about 15 minutes whilst some people went to the bathroom. The two were chatting quietly, so I gave them 'A Look'. They responded as usual, and then pointed at two older Catechists who were sitting in front of them, chatting away without a care in the world.