Because of YSP, I no longer believe in coincidences. Instead, I believe, firmly, in God’s gentle and guiding hand in all things. Through six years of YSP experience, I’ve seen miracles. Every single year.
My first YSP, Children of Eden in 2005, showed me that no matter how sleep-deprived, scatterbrained or chaotic things felt like they were moving all around me, the Holy Spirit was there, working through the theatrical staff, keeping the YSPers energized and somehow focused, giving us youth ministers just enough sanity to go on day after tiring day. And then, bam!, there was God, on the Amphitheatre stage (not just in the person of Kyle Mottsinger), revealing God’s self through 90 beautiful, talented and passionate teens. The show was incredible and I was, not surprisingly, moved to tears as the teens sang: Children of Eden you will reclaim us, You and your children to come, Someday you’ll come home…and raised their arms in that signature, triumphant “Y” (does Peggy have that trademarked?).
Even the most cynical theatre-goer (is there such a thing?) had to believe in miracles during 2007’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The forecasted rain and grey skies could not mute the colors of Joseph’s coat, or the enthusiasm of the cast. Drizzles before the first act dissipated, then reappeared during intermission. As Act II began, a rainbow appeared in the sky and, I can’t make this up, a dove flew around the Amphitheatre’s peak. It was beautiful reassurance that God was there, saying “you’re welcome” for another amazing show, another amazing retreat.
This year was no different. Last year, in the wake of the Oblates’ announcement that they would no longer support YSP, alumni and friends banded together and worked their tails off to make 2011 possible. It was your support, prayers and friendship that allowed 35 YSPers to experience this life-changing program. There were some major changes this year as we tightened our belts, but everyone, from theatrical staff, to King’s House hospitality, to the students, were immensely gracious and blessedly laid-back. The Spirit was there, calming our nerves at all these new arrangements, giving us hope for the future of YSP. It was, in all, a beautiful year. I’ve never seen the theatrical staff, youth ministers, Helpers Team and YSPers more in-tune with each other. Our shared prayer time was truly sacred. Our meals were joyful (and abundant as always!). Our rehearsals were fruitful. And of course the show exceeded our expectations. A tech rehearsal that had me biting my nails turned into a performance night that had the crowd on its feet applauding. God worked miracles with the weather: huge thunderclouds and lightning flashes circled the Amphitheatre for the final scene. “Lord,” I prayed, “don’t let this be the year that the entire YSP cast is vaporized by a bolt of lightning to the stage. This would be a terrible way to go out.” But in the end, the apocalyptic light show just added to the drama and many audience members commented that this was the best show yet. Yes, God is always at YSP. You’d think I’d learn not to fear by now. The Spirit always arrives, giving the amazing talents and passions a divine spark and producing a show that proves greater than the sum of its actors. This year solidified my faith that YSP will go on, no matter what, because God is there and makes God’s providence manifest in all those who are touched by YSP.