Hello, UCCL friends and families!
We are halfway through the busy (and hot) month of July, studying ideas related to Compassion and Kindness.
On that note, I want to share a short story of an event that happened at Summer Connection 2016, an opportunity for YOUers (our 14 – 18 year olds) to get to know teens from all over the Southeast Region and to learn and grow spiritually. This event is held every year in Asheville, NC. As sometimes happens, we had a couple of teens get into a verbal confrontation, in this case because one of the boys was jealous of the other. These young men were angry and one of them even said racial slurs. This, of course, is horrifying. YOU is a place where we are all accepted, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or any other difference! But humans being humans, this happened. They were immediately separated and the young man who started the confrontation was brought to me. By the time I saw him, he was already contrite. So aware of his error, and how inappropriate his words were. He wanted to apologize. We had a long discussion, and I felt he was truly sorry.
This was just before we were readying to go into a period of silent reflection that lasts for about 15 hours, and I really hoped to get the issue resolved, if possible. I spoke to the other young man, who was initially concerned that I had heard the whole story. I assured him I had and that I was horrified that racial slurs would be used in our group, and I apologized to him. He was so calm and immediately said that he, too, had some responsibility, that he 'snapped' back at the other young man. I was impressed by his ability/willingness to take ownership of his own behavior, regardless of the provocation. I already liked this young man, but now I truly admire him. I know many grown adults who haven't mastered this.
I asked him if he was willing to hear an apology, and he said that if he got an apology, that would be all he needed. I got the young men together and the first young man apologized fully and completely and the second young man accepted his apology and reached out for a handshake and pulled him into a hug. I was amazed. It occurred to me that this young Black man is a bridge. He was able to forgive the young man who wronged him and release his anger AND act in love. Wow. He went on to have a fantastic rally, and told me that he is really looking forward to the next one. The other young man learned a lot from this experience, and I hope it will help him see that we are truly all one. And I am looking forward to seeing both of these young men.
I am not sure if we will ever be able to have a world where no one says anything insulting or mean to another human being, as we are all so, well, human. I only hope moving forward that we will all remember that whatever the situation, we can choose to remain calm and act in the highest integrity. That we can choose to acknowledge our errors, and work to make them right. That the ugly words of another don't have to be taken personally.
I am aware that this situation could have turned out differently, and I am so grateful to be a part of and a witness to this fantastic Youth led organization, YOU. I feel hopeful that there are solutions besides anger and hatred and violence. For me, this is what Unity is all about. And I am grateful.
At our UCCL Campus, We had a wonderful Creative Kids Camp last month, where Campers helped Lisa Petrich paint a Peace Pole for our Youth Playground as well as our Buddy Bench to make it welcoming for new kids and anyone looking for some company or a playmate.
You may remember we were planning a Youth Service this month, but we will be delaying that until October. We made way for a new Ministerial Candidate coming in that Sunday, instead, so look forward to welcoming her!
BIG NEWS!!! This has been announced on Sundays, but I wanted to remind you that next Friday, July 22, we will be taking a trip as a church family to the Ichetucknee Springs, to tube and have a picnic lunch. This is an event open to all, so please plan to bring your family for an awesome time! I'll be there with my two grandchildren, for sure. Every child needs a parent/guardian to attend. Details are on the website, www.UnityinJax.com.
UCCL YFM Director