Monday, June 01, 2009
Secret # 7:Join the Circle
Dear Christie Kids,
There is a play from the 1990's written by John Guare called Six Degrees of Separation. The idea behind it is that all of human kind is connected in unexpected ways. It reflects a belief I want to share with you. Here is a quote from the off-Broadway version of the show:
“I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation... . It’s a profound thought. ... How every person is a new door, opening up into other worlds.”
What a cool idea. It supports my belief that all of humanity shares common threads. As members of this human kinship we are called to give within our means, as if others, even non-family members are our "siblings" in a sense. An amazing thing happens when we sacrifice our time, talents, or treasure for the good of other people. The fruits of these sacrifices sometimes are not visible to us ever, but they are very real. We are blessed; those we give to benefit and the world is better because of our actions. Just like your dad and I are happy when you share and look out for one another, God happy when his children (the whole human race) does the same. We are all connected in spirit.
You know I give of myself through my involvement in youth ministry. Youth ministry gives me back something intangible. Let me explain.
I've watched teens who are lethargic, or indifferent about their faith, others who completely reject religion, some on parole because of dumb choices become the strongest spiritual leaders of the group over the course of a year. This happens slowly. The group welcomes them and they gradually become more open-minded. Sometimes, especially after experiencing community service opportunities, their hearts catch fire, (metophorically speaking.) They seek out service projects; they lead discussions. It is the most beautiful, hopeful sight to see: this change. When I hear the Bible story about the Holy Spirit described as "tongues of fire" descending on the apostles, I think of this group of teens. Watching them grow spiritually is modern evidence of the Holy Spirit in action. They are living proof that all things are possible with God. Seeing these transformations has strengthened my faith.
Giving my time to youth ministry has blessed me in ways that go beyond what I am willing to reveal in this forum (a blog). There are many things that you can do to help the community, and it is worthwhile to pick projects and give of yourself. These are the small ways in which we have a hand in changing the world for the better.
If you ask teens involved in youth ministry why they joined, many admit that it was by force. Pressure from parents, friends dragging them along to meetings, or sometimes court mandated community service hours brought them to the group. God does amazing things when we just show up.
Today I felt so joyful witnessing 13 teenagers enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation Program receive the sacrament of Confirmation. It was just as hard for me to take on another responsibility, leaving you even earlier than usual on a Sunday afternoon to teach the class, as it was for them to make attending a priority. Whatever their reasons for showing up, they allowed the seed of faith to be planted in their hearts. I was so thankful to deepen my own faith through having the opportunity to teach them. As I called them up to stand on the altar with their sponsors, I was secretly praying for them, wondering how the Holy Spirit will lead them in life. I felt so honored to be called to help these teens receive Confirmation.
Show up. Make time. Give of yourself to others, whether it be helping out a friend or volunteering in the community. Even if you're tired or uncomfortable, intimidated, or think an activity is a waste of time, showing up changes you. "Come and see" what is waiting for you.
Your father and I met at a graduation party. Your father almost didn't go. He was tired from working an overnight shift. He "showed up" for his best friend's celebration because he cared about being a good friend, (and because his friend's mom is a great Italian cook). As a result, he met his future wife. (Insert joke here.) Despite my silly stories about our marriage, I can say with confidence that your dad is glad about this encounter.
I hope that you make time in your life to help others around you. It is through these experiences that God is attempting to reach you and send you His Graces (gifts). Helping others may not get you an important title. It will not fill your pockets with money, but I promise it will change your life in unexpected ways, because life is circular.
Picture is of a few of the usual suspects from youth group with me on a day retreat at the Shrine of Our Lady.
Dear Internet Traveler,
Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.