Thoughts for the Journey

For the past four weeks, I have had teenagers in my house once again – my grandchildren. Kaleb, 16 ½, and Irelyn, 15, have been a joy AND a challenge. I still remember their mother and aunts as teens, along with dozens of friends, or “boy” friends, wandering through, sleeping on couches, blaring music, screaming, laughing, arguing, dancing, and eating at all hours of the day and night. Looking back on those days, with these days before me, I have to admit I loved it! Yes, being a parent was the greatest challenge of my life and came with much joy and heartache at the same time. I was a single parent following a rough divorce for some time before my beloved Tom entered the picture, but I was not alone in raising them. I did my best to surround them with good people from school, from church, and from neighbors/friends. In the midst of this community, there was my family. My mother, my brother and his family, my ex’s family were all part of an amazing, loving, role-model community. Now, these people were not perfect as no one is perfect. Yet, they each had a hand in exampling the ups, the downs of life situations. The girls were blessed to have them all, including Tom, even to this day in their adult/parent lives. I have watched each of my beautiful girls become independent, capable, aware, strong women who love fiercely in individual ways. They have maintained friendships with some of those teens that came through our home, maintained relationships with the adults whom they met from that time until today. I am so thankful to God that I was given what seems like an overabundance of gifts in the human hearts and forms that helped my girls grow into who they are now. At the same time, those teens that populated my home many years ago, along with all the others, helped me grow into who I am right now. Well, there are two lives that have contributed to all of us, especially me, and they are teenagers today! I count my continued growth in relation to being in the grandparent club. Just the other night, I was recounting their births. I was privileged to see each one of them emerge into the world, take their first breath and let the world know they had arrived with full loud lungs. Mom was busy and Dad was overcome with the whole birthing process. Then I was privileged to see them both immediately bond with their babies and now to see their relationships, challenges and adventures with their own teenagers! I will be honest, tech- nology is a help and a hindrance to our youth. It is difficult for my granddaughter to tear herself away from SnipSnap or twixting or whatever they call it! (I do know the true names but I love to make her laugh and roll her eyes at her “granny”.) They made some friends, gave time to church members by working in the garden, dusting bookshelves or mowing lawns. They walked beaches, picked up rocks and sea glass, ate ice cream everywhere, drank Del’s almost every day, swam at Sachuest Beach in freezing or sweltering weather, and read books from the library or Barnes and Noble. They stayed up all night and slept until noon, ate at all hours, screamed, laughed, argued, danced wildly, and were persnickety. I have loved every minute of it! Not just for nostalgia’s sake. What I appreciate is that teens are teens. Kids are kids. They like adventure, time to themselves, the ability to spend moments with friends, the opportunity to do for others. I see young human beings still struggling to understand what their minds and bodies are about. They struggle to like themselves and learn about “God” or a spirituality that seems distant and close at the same time. They struggle to separate good relationships from destructive relationships. They struggle. In the midst of struggles, they find fun and laughter. They find love and feelings. They find safety and concern. They move further in finding their own place in this beautiful, broken world. They find people that give them examples of how to live, for better or for worse. They grow. You may ask “what have you received from this experience at your advanced age”? I have learned that at heart, I am still a teenager who loves to dance, scream, laugh, argue, blast music, and have friends over while struggling with my place and purpose in the world. My body is older for it needs to take a nap on occasion or suffers if I eat at all hours of the day and night. And my spirit – well it has never been better with my soul. For I live in consistent hope because our teens, as challenging as the world is today, are alive, alike, and, when allowed to be teens, will show us how to navigate this time we call “life”. Thank you, my dearest Kaleb and Irelyn. I love being your “Ima”. Sorrowed to say goodbye to them and anxious to say hello once again.

~ Pastor Laurie

United Methodist Church

200 Turner Road, Middletown, RI 02842