A breath of fresh air

Published August 14, 2012

Like everyone who works at the Anglican Journal, I look forward to my summer holidays all year long. After 10 issues of the newspaper and all the myriad demands of a busy website, the entire staff is oh-so-ready. Left unchecked, the relentless pace of life on the career path, combined with personal responsibilities and commitments, can take its toll. For me, vacation time is as important as oxygen. Without it, I would surely die.

To “recreate” myself, I must get off automatic-pilot. Easier said than done. As anyone whose life is stressful knows, it takes a few days for all the noise in one’s head to die down sufficiently to actually reconnect with yourself. What helps me check in physically, emotionally and spiritually is a whopping dose of outdoor time, the perfect antidote to hours of staring at a computer screen and sitting in meetings.

For me, fresh air, sunshine and time-warping smells wafting on the breeze feel like a healing balm. When I get a whiff of the grass I’m cutting, I am a young girl again, running outside to find my friends. I am too young for a summer job, too old to need minding. There is no school and I am free to play all day.

This summer, I cycled more than 500 kilometres in my quest to prepare for the work ahead. I was blessed with perfect weather and a huge island county to explore, sometimes with friends and sometimes on my own. There were lots of hills, and the triumph of cresting one before flying down another brought home the realization that there is no work worth doing that doesn’t make your heart pound. Feeling passionate about the work that we do and receiving your letters of encouragement keeps me energized even on days when the tasks at hand feel like a near-vertical climb.

Thanks to the readership survey, which drew comments from right across the country about the value of both the national and diocesan newspapers, we heard that you care, you really, really do. You told us that most of you are female, 65 years of age and older, fully retired, and living alone or with one other person. You told us that while you may own a computer, you like to read your news on paper, and that the newspapers of the Anglican Church of Canada are an important connection to your church. You said that many of the stories in the Journal are filled with hope and that that gives you some comfort in challenging times. We are listening carefully because we know that what we do with your feedback is crucial. You will find our report on the survey on p. 5. Check your diocesan newspaper for more on your feedback about local news.

Still, there’s a big piece missing from the Journal and it’s been on my mind ever since I arrived. Both the newspaper and the website have little or no youth presence, and something needs to be done about this. One of the keys to our future lies with young people. They are the ones who are already connected to the outside world; they are the ones who understand and are part of secular culture; and they are the ones who are using new technology. “They” are our lifeline.
Cutting youth programs when budgets get tight is like cutting off our own oxygen. If we let them, young people can help guide us and walk with us into the future—whatever that is, however that looks. Let’s not undervalue them or silence them. Instead, let’s embrace them.

This fall, the Journal is teaming up with diocesan youth leaders who will write for both the newspaper and the website. (You’ll find the first youth column, by Andrew Stephens-Rennie, on p. 4.) Through them, we will connect to the passion, energy and eagerness to serve that are part and parcel of Anglican youth culture. Together, we will look at what they’re doing, how they’re feeling and what they’re saying. Together, we will all head outside for some much-needed fresh air.

Kristin Jenkins is editor of the Anglican Journal.

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