Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Where there is doubt, faith...despair, hope, darkness...light
Nick, Jack and Gus on their first day of school.
Rebecca on her first day of high school. SNIFF!!!!! I feel like I'm throwing her to the dogs!
I think it's harder to let your first-born go to high school than to kindergarten. I mean, when you live in a more liberal minded town like mine, everything is accepted and everything is on equal footing. There is really no real "truth" to live by , one mostly has a moral relativism that functions as the 'truth' of the day (unless you are a conservative Christian--then you don't matter at all) That being said....
Rebecca started high school this year as a ninth grader. A few days before the first day of school, I had to make my way to the counselors office to help her change one of her classes. As we walked through the Science wing of the school, I noted how dark, depressing and narrow the hallways were. Not only that, every wall was covered in some sort of mural painted by youth of the past. Some were very impressive paintings while others only mediocre. One large mural displayed a colorful tree inset with faces and animals. The words Gaia were painted above it. ( I assumed it was the pagan goddess gaia?) Walking on I viewed another mural above another teachers' doorway. Painted there was the image of death with the words: Doom to all who enter here. The word "Here" was painted in a Halloween type font with blood dripping down. How happy! In the counselors office, the secretary had decorated her area with posters depicting herself as a goddess...or secretary goddess, Christmas lights hung around, etc. Stuff that helped her seem "cool' to the kids, I would guess. I assumed she was fairly young, but as she walked up and spoke to me with her half-chewed sandwich in her mouth, I realized that she must have been 50 years old. Pink triangles dotted the hallways indicating that this school was a 'safe zone' for those who are gay. Other signs invited young people to join groups of all sorts of affiliations or persuasions. Did I mention that there is no dress code for the place and the girls wear VERY provocative clothing and boys wear offensive t-shirts of every type..oh wait correction...the t-shirts are not allowed to degrade women. Gee, thanks. Did I mention that the rock radio station that was blaring down the hallway was coming from a teacher's classroom and is well liked by the students.....is constantly bashing something, with D.J's hurling expletives at each other and laughing at what they view as 'traditional'. Nothing is held back, it seems that self- gratification/self-expression in all its forms is glorified...no matter what the consequences may be. Why do we as a society welcome it ALL???? Do we think we are actually doing our teens a favor by allowing all of this? Negativity, negativity, everywhere.
This high school has been listed as one of the top 10 high schools in the country in the past, and is currently in the top 100. The people in my town are wealthy, educated, mostly white, and busy, busy, busy-I would even say too busy for their kids. My point is, there are SO many mixed messages thrown at these kids everywhere--some good, some bad. Boy it can be a confusing place if you arrive here without much conviction or direction from your parents about what is right or wrong.
This is where youth workers need to take our jobs VERY seriously. There is only ONE message that we need to convey as a church and that is the positive message of Jesus and WHO He died for. It's a positive message. The only thing on OUR wall is the crucified Christ, our message it is one of hope, charity, love!!! We need to present the youth with the counter-cultural message that you CAN be a happy and fulfilled person as a believer in Jesus. Young people are hungering for something to fill that void that we all have in our heart....filling it with everything alluring thing that the world gives only leaves them feeling empty and incomplete. Youth need to know that they are LOVED by someone, anyone, and they'll go anywhere to find that love. If you are a youth worker, please at the very least, make sure your young people KNOW that Jesus loves them, that He gave his life for them. Give them a place to be themselves, a place away from all the noise and confusion, a place where they can be quiet and reflect on the beauty of our Catholic Faith, give them the tools to fight temptation and find purification. But most of all make sure that they know that NOTHING can separate them from the love of God. Nothing. Not even well-intentioned public high schools.....