Life Through a Lens - National Youth Gathering September 2012
From 14-16 September a group of young people from some of the Augustinian parishes in the UK Province gathered at Lee Valley, Herts for a weekend of fun, activities, prayer and film making! We explored the barriers in our life that mirror that of Augustine, using his life as a perfect example of how to overcome these with our Faith. We shared a lot in discussion groups, we wrote letters to ourselves that will be sent to us in 6 months, allowing us to see any changes in situations we may be struggling with at the moment and we recorded some scenes from Augustine's life in modern day settings --- get ready to see some of these soon! It was great weekend, with lovely weather which allowed us to be outside and enjoy the acres of land that surrounded us. Below is an article by Christine Sterlini who attended her first National Gathering at Life Through a Lens:
Last weekend I went to my first ever Augustinian Youth Gathering. It was titled “Life through a Lens” and I had no idea what to expect…
I arrived at Lee Valley (my home for the weekend) on Friday evening. It was amazing! Big log cabins set back a little way from the lee valley canal and surrounded by trees and lots of open green spaces. The evening began with a prayer, and a reflective session followed by some rather entertaining activities! I didn’t know many people at all but I was quickly put at ease, as everyone was so warm and welcoming.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny and we were treated to a delicious buffet breakfast. The first session of the day consisted of a variety of games based around St Augustine. I knew very little about St Augustine and was a bit nervous that my ignorance was about to be exposed! My worries were quickly extinguished however as the games unfurled to be engaging, fun and informative as opposed to interrogating.
After a tasty BBQ lunch and some relaxation time we reformed into small groups. Our task for the afternoon was to work in teams to reflect on St Augustine’s life and reenact an extract from his life in a modern day context. My team found it a little difficult to generate realistic ideas and we found ourselves more often than not collapsing into fits of laughter as we voiced various elaborate but incredibly imaginative suggestions. In the end though, with help from our very patient team leader, we actually managed to create a pretty good sketch of a young and old St Augustine being interviewed on a television show.
The screenings of all the teams’ sketches were shown later on in the evening and the viewings left a grin on everybody’s face.
What I found particularly interesting as I learned about St Augustine throughout the course of the day was how similar in some respects his life was to my own, even though he’d lived hundreds and hundreds of years ago. From what I understood he’d lived for a time a life of excess and indulgence until there seemed to come to him some kind of revelation that a life devoid of Christ was meaningless and held no real substance. It was also quite reassuring to hear that a man who had been so self-centred and prone to messing up could become a saint… if God could utilise him for such greatness then things for me were looking up!
The day ended in a very special way. We had been asked to write a letter to ourselves pointing out what we were currently struggling with, our worries and our hopes, alongside words of encouragement and advice for the future. Before we turned in for the night we gathered together and sealed these letters with wax in individual envelopes with our own address on. These, we were told, would be sent to us in 6 months time. I’m already excited about receiving mine and seeing how much things have progressed from the moment of writing my letter to reading it.
On Sunday we started the day by celebrating Mass together. We were joined by some of the Augustinian brothers from Birmingham who brought a lot of laughter and musical talent into the group. Before our final meal we had one last thought provoking talk and a meditative reflection, which left me completely relaxed, and looking forward to the next gathering already!
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend. The food and venue were amazing but it was really the people who made it for me. A massive big THANK YOU to the organisers!