Mosaic Hearts of the Young
Last night I was with some of the young people from our Youth Apostolate and I asked one of them a few questions about why they like being in Youth Ministry.
She paused and gazed at a spot beneath the tree. "I like the care circles. I learn a lot from other young people when they share what they've been through. Then I realize stuff that I haven't understood because I had a different perspective."
I'm musing about young people today because I've been a youth minister for the past 6 years or so and while I think to myself that young people seem to be different now than before I stop and pause. Young people now take time to articulate what they want to say in person because they fear the judgment of adults. They seem apprehensive to open up their thoughts because they fear it will be insignificant or irrelevant. They would rather express themselves to a certain few because the comfort of acceptance is less risky and the words they type on Twitter are safer than words said out loud.
The irony of communication in this socially-worked world is that the frequency has significantly increased but the impact of communication's meaning to another human soul falls into a patterned-plateau.
How many young people feel heard and truly listened to by their parents? By their peers? And what does listening mean to them? What will make young people feel safe to speak their minds but at the same time not be threatened to hear the wisdom from their older brothers and sisters who would want a better path for them to tread? What will make older brothers and sisters, or for that matter parents as well, find a sense of peace that after having given their insights, God will assure the nurturance of their beloved offspring?
I am not a mother. But I have seen almost all kinds of interactions that go between these generations and I experience it even in my own life.
There is a tension that lightly exists when you hold on to another life because of love. Sometimes the grip is too strong that it suffocates and life is sucked out little by little. Sometimes it is too loose that young people are carried away into waywardness.
What is the best way to hold a heart? What is the best way to hear another heartbeat? What is the best way to love?
Yesterday's gospel reading was from the book of Mark chapter 12. Jesus, He talked about loving God with all that we are and all that we have. I've heard this one before and thought the priest would take it on from an angle of striving again to reach that performance of being able to muster with our own will-power the love that we need to give God.
But no, he pauses and asks, "But for us to love God, He needed to first love us. How many of us really believe that?"
I was glad. For the first time, I heard this gospel preached from a perspective of real unconditional love in my community.
So I kept pondering on his words and how the past few days have all been about sifting through photographs of my pilgrimage experience. Fragments of stories past. Breadcrumbs of believers who let their lives be captivated by the love of God. They've reached such depths of character not because they "willed" themselves to be so. But because they must have met and experienced wholeheartedly the love of the Father that they could not help but respond extravagantly as they did.
I looked at the young people around me at the dinner table last night and thought to myself. How the Father loves us all in our own unique way. Not a general way. But a specific and particular way. A personal way. Like carefully crafted mosaics with distinct color and shape. Full of meaning and purpose.
You know Mother, that I have always desired to be a saint, but alas, I have always realized, when I compared myself to the saints, that there is between them and me the same difference as exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the skies, and the obscure grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by. Instead of getting discouraged, I said to myself, "God could not inspire us with desires that were unrealizable, so despite my littleness I can aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, I must put up with myself as I am, with all my imperfections; but I want to find how to get to Heaven by a little way that is quite straight, quite short: a completely new little way.
We are in the age of inventions; now one doesn't have to make the effort to climb up a stairway in rich people's houses, because an elevator does the work much better. I too would like to find an elevator to lift me up to Jesus, for I am too little to climb up a steep stairway to perfection. Then I looked in the holy books for some sign of the elevator that I desired, and I read these words that had come forth from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: Whoever is very little let him come to me - Proverbs 9:4. So I'm guessing that I had found what I sought. To reach perfection, I do not need to grow up. On the contrary, I need to stay little, to become more and more little.
- Saint Therese of the Child Jesus