The Love Squad: Reflections from a Teen Mindfulness Retreat
Barnaby Willett is the Director of Program Development at Peace in Schools and also teaches our Mindful Studies class at Cleveland High School. He and many other Peace in Schools teachers served as staff on Inward Bound Mindfulness Education's (iBme) Pacific Northwest teen retreat in early August. Here is a short essay he wrote about his experience:
It’s day two of retreat.
I’m sitting in the male dorm as our teens prepare for sleep. We’re brushing our teeth, using the bathroom, reading, and writing in journals.
There’s a deep sense of peace.
In this same lounge an hour ago, my small group met. We posed the question, “What do you daydream about?” One shared her dream that an iBme retreat could last all summer. Another expressed the wish that it would last a lifetime. Heads nodded around the room.
So many of these teens have only known each other twenty-four hours. Already the depth of vulnerability and connection is beyond words. So is the care, and the respect, and the love.
What would the world be like if everyone lived in this way?
“I love you’s” are being exchanged. And wonderful hugs. We asked our small group, “What should we be called?” It took about five seconds to decide on The Love Squad.
What happens when humans really get to know each other? Does everything fall apart? That’s the message we sometimes get.
It's not true. When we come together in trust, in love, in openness, in kindness, we are a model for a new world.
Listen to these teens. They are opening their hearts. They give each other and us hope in a sometimes broken world. If you were here with me, you would know. Hope is alive. Love is here.
Photos by Darby Gillis, a Mindful Studies student at Portland's Cleveland High School. Additional photos by Jess Jarris and Barnaby Willett.