Contributed by board member, The Rev. Sarah Persons
“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” L.R. Knost
It is June and the end of the school year. Many teens are moving on – to work, to college, to service – out of adolescence and into adulthood. Some are held back by circumstances, or their own choices. Most are somewhere on that threshold of one stage of life to the next. For all of them we worry and grieve and hope. It’s a dangerous time; full of challenges and opportunities that are worlds apart from those their parents faced. And yet the same hard-won truths apply generation to generation, truths like:
- we will never be totally prepared for what tomorrow may bring, but we can do our best;
- the right thing to do will not always make us feel better;
- the world doesn’t love us, but we find a way to love anyway.
Unitarian Universalists have the tradition of the “Bridging Ceremony”, a ritual intended to honor all our youth have been, all they are now, and all they dream to be. It is a blessing for coming and going, for endings and beginnings, for those who go forth and those who stay. It is a promise that we will make room for their possibilities and lend our support through the pitfalls.
“Today I cross this bridge and join in fellowship,” our youths say, “Let me grow but don’t let me go.”
As one who was kicked out of the nest or jumped out – I’m never sure which happened first – I find this tradition especially meaningful. Our future is in the hands of the next generation and the generation after that. What do we do to strengthen those hands, to nourish them and lend them the integrity and fortitude and resilience to take up responsibility not just for themselves but for all our lives?
We may never make the world entirely safe for our kids, but we can do all we can to raise kids who will make the world a better place.