This is Jon again.  I thought I might write a short reflection on my experience here at the ranch now that my time at Whetstone is nearly at an end.   And as I write these words, I realize how sad the thought makes me.   I also realize how foolish it was for me to think that leaving this place and these people wouldn’t make me sad.  I have spent three months in near constant fellowship and community here.  The only other group I’ve lived in one house with for that long is my family…but I guess that’s what Whetstone has become.  Family.

I do plan to return.  I want to attend the graduations of the three boys I have worked with this summer.  I also want to return here at some point to work, because this has been an experience that I would love to have again.  But I know I can never again have this experience, not exactly.  Next Saturday, the first boy to come to Whetstone will graduate, and I got to work with him, but there will never again be a “First Boy” to work with.   We got a new boy this summer and he has been one of my biggest tests at the ranch – the stone that has sharpened me most, and when I leave here I will miss seeing the huge leaps of maturity he will make during his time here.  This summer, I also got to know a young man who is one of the most interesting people I have ever met.  His views may be a little odd, but he is very intelligent and has, in the few short months I’ve worked here, matured significantly.  When I leave, I will miss getting to see the man he grows to become in his last few months at Whetstone; and once he graduates and moves back home I may never see him again.

I will miss many things about Whetstone.  I will miss the late night discussions, the pool games and ping-pong matches, and I guess one day I may even miss the noxious gas these boys seem able to conjure up at will.  However, despite how much I will miss Whetstone when I leave, I feel more joy from the experience than I do sadness at my departure.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had here, for the relationships I’ve built, for the experience I’ve gained, and for the staff and boys who have made this summer so amazing.  I know I will never get to have this experience again, and that makes it all the more precious.