I had a really, really difficult time with this one. Only a few ideas came to mind for a K post, none of them I was too passionate about. In the end, I went with
What is Kairos, you query? Well. In the eyes of a high school student (at least, at Catholic schools who participate) It is a four day retreat with your classmates, usually during your senior year of high school. It's pretty intense...emotionally, that is. It's meant to be a time where you break down barriers and take time out of your busy schedule to get to know yourself, your classmates, and God. Each day is focused on something different, and all the activities revolve around those topics. The final day is focused on LOVE, and how to put everything you learned into action. One of the very special parts of the retreat is that all forms of technology and time are taken away from the retreatants. Only the adults and student leaders know what time it is, and time increments are measured using your hands. Example? You would say you have this much time (holding your hands facing each other just a short distance apart) to go to the bathroom. Or You have this much time (holding your hands larger apart) to go for a walk and write in your journal. Another one of the greatest parts of Kairos? It's all a secret. Well, it's meant to be. Sometimes people ~knew things. But for the most part, no one has any idea what to expect. Which is why I can't share many of the fabulous, wonderful things that happen on the retreat. I would hate to spoil it for someone who randomly stumbles on this blog.
I went on Kairos as a junior...I was sort of hoping to be accepted as a Kairos Leader the next year for my class. I say hoping because I really wasn't sure. I felt "the call" but wasn't confident about it. anyways, That is also pretty routine. At our high school, there were four separate Kairos retreats. The class is split up into equal numbers and you are assigned your dates. But, if you are a junior and interested in being a leader, you must apply to go on the spring Kairos as a junior. I was one of those juniors, and I must say I was pretty terrified. I wasn't friends with many people in the senior class, and I wasn't sure they would care what I had to say or value my opinion. I was wrong. I actually grew very close with all the girls, especially the leaders, whom I admired greatly. My first experience on Kairos wasn't life changing, though. I had a great time, I learned a little more about myself and my faith, but I was underwhelmed. All through high school I had heard I would come back a changed person, and I didn't. Everything just went back to normal.
However, it would be my 2nd time on Kairos that I would truly find meaning and hope. I was accepted to be a leader for Kairos. A HUGE honor. I was selected to lead the first Kairos for our class. I wasn't allowed to tell any of my friends, especially those going on the retreat. I was leading with some of my best friends, so that made it kind of difficult. We were always whispering and having meetings. Anyhoo. One of the major responsibilities of the leaders is to give a talk to the group. We were each assigned different topics. I was assigned a new topic, one that our pastoral minister wanted to introduce to Kairos- God's Friendship. I was given a few basic guidelines, but basically, your talk is supposed to come straight from the heart. I don't know if I've ever written something so honest as I did for my Kairos talk. I spoke out some of the things I was struggling with (none of which my classmates were aware of, because I kept it hidden), some of the beautiful friendships that I had in my life, and how my experiences at Mercy had helped me to find my faith. Mrs. MacLennan (my pastoral minister) helped me to go over and over my talk, making sure it was right. We made very little changes and I felt good about it-until I had to actually give it. I still remember the moments just before I gave my talk. I walked into the room, sat at the little white table facing empty chairs, and said a prayer. At that moment, Mrs. Mac walked in. She could tell I was nervous, and she said "You wrote a wonderful talk, Megan. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you.". I did. And guess what? My talk went perfectly. I spoke with confidence and grace, that I never knew I had in me. I held back tears, but overall, I felt so accomplished and relieved. After my talk, I looked up and there was a line of girls formed around the table for hugs. One of them was a girl who I had grown up with, but we were NEVER friends. She hugged me so tight, kissed me on the head, and said I inspired her. In that moment, I knew I had done the right thing by answering God's call to attend Kairos.
Another huge responsibility of the leaders is to lead a small group of classmates. Myself and the fellow leaders spent 4 hours one afternoon dividing up the retreatants into groups. We couldn't have best friends with each other, we couldn't pick our own best friends. I spoke up, very clearly, to say "I don't mind who is in my group, but I need her to be in it."..as I picked up a name of another girl I had grown up with. We HAD been best friends, but once we hit high school we fell apart. We weren't on speaking terms. I knew it was a risk putting her in my group, but I felt like it would be good. My small group kicked so much ass (sorry, but we did). I fell in love with them. We shared stories, they were all so strong. Ironically enough, one of our activities was to make friendship bracelets for one other person in our group. Who's name did I pick? You betcha. I spent so much time on her bracelet, picking colors that meant something. (forgiveness, friendship, trust, etc). I loved my group. We stayed close throughout the rest of our senior year. In fact, I still have a picture we all took together on Graduation night.
Besides my small group and giving my talk, leading Kairos WAS truly an overall incredible experience. I learned SO much about myself and my classmates. I am still, to this day, so thankful for God for that experience. I still have my Kairos cross. Still have my journal, and my talk.
I know many of you won't be able to connect to this post, and that's okay. I just needed to remember what a special time that was for me.
HEY. I found a journal entry from back then...This is me, circa 2004.
I'm kind of at a loss for words right now. Leading Kairos was, hands down, the most amazing experience. It was just...beautiful. All of the girls on the retreat taught me so much, they are all beautiful, intelligent and amazing. I just wanted to thank everyone who went on Kairos, you have no idea how much I love and admire each and every one of you. To my fellow leaders...Andie, Aria, Heather, Staci, and Kaits...we made it. It was hard work, yes, but girls I love you and you're awesome and I had such a good time with you guys...high kicks, good deeders, ya know. the usual. :) im on that like mayo on a sandwhich.
Live The Fourth.