When We Are Family
When I was interviewed for ministry at First United almost 9 years ago I was told that we had no youth. When I started I discovered that, in fact, there were youth attached to the faith family but they did not all attend. So with the help of another woman in the congregation, we invited to supper three of the youth who were involved and our youth group was born. Over the next number of years we grew from three to 15 at its largest and it was wonderful. Of that group there are now three who are in their final year of high school and the rest have moved on to University and in pursuit of their careers.
This group of young people became a source of great joy, challenge and spiritual fulfillment for me. The space that we created was safe for all and there was so much shared there. We held conversations that included religion and spirituality, sexuality, history, politics and just about anything else you could imagine. I watched as these 12-15 year olds grew, changed, became comfortable with their own beings, laughed and created a bond that would carry them through many tragedies and difficulties.
… which brings us to today…
Family and Community – Wonderful, Imperfect, Talented
On the weekend I was thinking about this group of amazing young adults and wondering how they were managing in the midst of this new reality. I have maintained contact with them all individually but as a group we had long since dissolved. So I decided to create a messenger chat group to which they were all invited and WOW!
The conversation began, one voice after the other, and it was as if we were back in our safe space with the crazy painted walls and the comfy couches.
One of the things that I loved about this group that came together was that they had found a place where they could safely explore their identities and know that they were held in love. Together we truly represented all the colours of the rainbow.
Through their struggles they shared words of encouragement and hugs of love.
In their successes they celebrated.
When they ticked one another off they found ways to resolve their issues and work through the uncertainties.
The online chat room continued to reflect this. We celebrated one member being published; another being accepted into college; another shared their struggle with their identity and coming out as trans; another shared their experiences at work and the difficulties associated with being on the front lines during this time; and there were words of pride, celebration, support and love.
When We Are Family
For me, this group of wonderful, imperfect, talented young people are what family and community should be. I was reminded that no matter where we are, when we are family, we are connected in a way that knows not the boundaries of time or distance. Regardless of where we are and what we are going through when we have this kind of grounding and connection we are able to rise up and do what needs to be done. Once again, they have grounded me and I know that I am truly blessed.
As we continue to move through this new reality my prayer is that you will know that no amount of boundaries, restrictions or circumstances can really separate you from those who share your journey and surround you with love.
© 2020 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury. All rights reserved.