“So, how many successes did you have among the youth,” I am asked.
I wonder why that question so irritates me.
Failure or success is not the criteria for being open to the Presence. Nor is being bad or good.
A parent told me that her son confided to her his confusion. “There is no more spirit journey youth group. Nothing important is going to happen until I am eighteen and I move out of here,” he says.
I thought about this. Knowing what is important seems to be a major mark of maturity.
Over the years our holy practices evolved., I look at the different practices that has brought us closer to the profound presence of God, even when this was not the intent at the time.
Some have to do with space such as sacred space and holy ground.
Some involve the way we use our time.
And sometimes it is how we pay attention.
Another dimension is noticing what is important.
We do this by prayer when we raise up what we care about. And when we reflect on the impact of an event. And when we celebrate special transition times and things.
During one of ours baptism we carefully placed the cross, the sage, the Book of Common Prayer and the turquoise necklace on the altar. They were all blessed by the Bishop. Later, one of the baptized youth put these items away carefully. “I will take special care of these. It’s not like just gifts; it is something that God has blessed.”
Another time the native youth blessed two different houses with sage. The families who had requested this as well as the Native youth crowded in the doorway all stood solemnly. From then on we referred to our going to that house we blessed. It became significant.
On occasion we have held a ceremony for those who walk in the Spirit world. This stamps the lives of those who have gone as loved and missed. “I didn’t know that I could still cry about it” says one of the young adults.
The youth like to go up to the front of the congregation to have a birthday, or graduation or special event celebrated. Sometime we are asked to come forward to bless us on our trip or for extra prayers.
In distinctive ways something is cemented in our memories as important when we celebrate it and/or have a blessing over it.
It is like so many things happen to us and by us and it is so possible to let everything be a blur and nothing stands out. So we forget the good and become cynical in our outlook.
It is a holy practice to mark what is significant and to celebrate it with sage and oil and food and song and laughter. It is a discipline to insist that birth, death and the interval in-between be celebrated. It is a healing and a lifting up to God what we want to hold kindly in our memories.
May we be intentional in what we celebrate.