Monday, May 19, 2014

Goodbyes and beginnings ...

So I was poised to leave for church Sunday morning when part of the mechanism that raises the garage door snapped. Darn.

Then, at church, it was necessary to say goodbyes to Sam Felderman, a highly valued young man (also organist, music director and all-around Mr. Sunshine) who moves to Dubuque later this week to begin a new job, maybe even a new life.

After a couple of other lesser slings and arrows, I spent early Sunday afternoon sulking. 

Then headed for Karoline Dittmer's post-graduation reception --- in the Pioneer Barn on the museum campus --- and that brightened the day considerably.


I took this photo of Karoline with our mutual friend Frank Mitchell, who serves on the historical society board and also is an exceedingly distant cousin. Karoline is a 2014 graduate of Chariton High School; Frank, a member of the Class of 1951. You do the math.

Some years ago, we were lucky enough to obtain a SPLASH grant to buy some "new" technology for the museum. SPLASH is a student-administered CHS program funded by the Dekko Foundation that aids projects that in one way or another will involve or benefit young people.

For going on two years now, Karoline has been the person who made much of that equipment work, filming events and interviews, operating equipment that the older among us were baffled by, editing video, coming to the rescue of folks who couldn't quite figure out how to burn data onto DVDs that actually worked. Now that she's headed for Simpson College, we'll be looking for a "new" Karoline --- but certainly will miss the original.


One thing I find interesting about both of these young people, Sam and Karoline --- let's talk about them as if they weren't here --- is that both are interested and involved in their faith communities, Sam, the Episcopal Church; Karoline, the Catholic Church. (Karoline's grandmother, Kathleen, was thrilled when she found out Karoline was actually looking forward to becoming involved with Catholic student activities at Simpson).

That appears to be rarer these days than it once was, as the percentage of "nones" increases among younger people, partly because of indifference and partly because so much of the church these days seems to feed on hostility rather than the bread of life.

So it's cool to run into guys like these, still able to move past the checkered past of the creaky old church and its current messiness and sense the potential in what it might become.


That photo of Karoline and Frank kind of illustrates another point --- towns like Chariton are still looked upon as great places to raise kids in and to retire to (Frank is a retired University of Southern California professor who came home).

But the middle, where there's a good deal of potential, kind of gets overlooked. That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of in-betweeners around, just that the older guys and veteran residents who have rooted interests in the community really haven't devoted the effort and energy needed to figure how to involve them and, perhaps, make them feel fully welcome.

Or to attract suitable replacements for those bright and shining young people --- like Karoline, Sam and many others --- we inevitably export.

It probably would be counterproductive to hug everyone under 40 (not to mention weird) you see wandering around town, but most likely we all could be more welcoming and supportive.

So here's an assignment for the week --- think about it.

No comments: