A Journey Toward Courage
There’s not much in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. For most people, it’s just a dreary exit off the highway between Amarillo and Albuquerque… We aren’t most people. One of the first things we do each June as a campus is pile into vans at 8:30 on a weekday morning and drive 2.5 hours to a tiny swimming hole in a tiny town. This adventure sets up the framework of summer at Amarillo Children’s Home – an intentional trek through our mission statement: to restore the identity of children so they can realize their great value and be a blessing to others.
Why on earth do we wake up early on a summer morning, pack a picnic lunch and drive to the middle of nowhere?
Our kids’ frame of reference is often as small as a screen – we want to remind them to lift their heads and see the world, encourage them to experience new things, challenge them to try something they aren’t 100% confident in.
Our ultimate destination in Santa Rosa is the Blue Hole, a crystal clear, 60-foot-wide oasis backed by a cliff and surrounded by rocky viewing areas for people to hang out and watch, shout encouragement to the brave souls in the water or gather the courage to jump in themselves. I am hanging out on this rock “deck,” watching and chatting, and I ask one young man, James* – a kid who tends to live life a bit louder than he has to because he’s not quite confident in who he is – if he’s going to jump in.
“Nah, man, I’m good.” “Aww – you ought to try it!” “Nahh.”
A moment passes. He abruptly stands and saunters to the steps down to the water. “What are you doing?” “I’m getting in.” “You might want to take your shoes off!” “OH! Yeah!” … “You might want to take your socks off!” “Oh! Oh, yeah!”
He makes his way down the steps, halts about ankle deep, barks out, “Oh! This mug is cold!” then turns and scurries back to where he had been sitting… propped up against the wall, just observing the other kids.
I join him there, but not two minutes later, he’s heading with determination back toward those same stone steps and that same cold water. “James! Whatcha doing? “I’m gonna put my head in!”
He wades in shin-deep, stoops over to dunk the top of his head in the water, climbs out and resumes his position on the wall.
The next thing I know, up hops James. He strides toward the steps. I don’t even ask this time – I just follow with my camera. He plunges all the way under before hustling right back to his spot. I get a towel on him, but only just before he resolutely shrugs it off and proclaims, “I’m jumping in.” He marches over to the low ledge on the side of the pool … He leaps.
I love that moment – the jump and the journey to it – a snap-shot frozen in time is exactly why we spend a summer morning at the Blue Hole. In James’ pilgrimage, we see in comical microcosm what we call the progression of confidence in four stages.
We test. We try. We trust. We leap.
Our entire summer is intentionally structured for such moments, carefully crafted to grow our kids: in courage, in the knowledge of their value, in their identity in Christ, in their relationships with others, in their view of their own place in this community and this world. Our opportunities to cultivate our kids are limited. Sometimes one summer is all we get, so we are very much in a race against time – and the startling line is an early summer adventure in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
*name has been changed