On the evening September 15th, I joined eight youth from St. Margaret's (ranging in age from 12 to 16) and three chaperones (I won't divulge their age ranges) on the Mega bus to New York City. Our two-day schedule was full: we visited the Museum of Modern Art, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Paul's Chapel and the 9/11 memorial. In between those visits we took time for food, fellowship and reflection.
This trip demonstrated what I already knew: the youth of this church are amazing. I was continually impressed with the level of engagement each of the participants showed. I was delighted to see them actively working to build community together and to reach out to others.
There were so many examples of how "plugged in" this group has been to their church. I overheard them discussing the differences between the liturgy at St. Paul's and the liturgy at St. Margaret's (and I heard a few suggestions for improvement). And I was overwhelmed to observe several of them lighting memorial candles in the names of Katharine Pagan, Nancy Littlehales, and Maude Katzenbach. It was powerful to see the Spirit moving among us and to know that she had been with us all along. These are just a few of many gifts I received on this pilgrimage.
All of this was made possible by the youth and the adults who worked and gave to support this trip. The trip was financed by the fundraisers the youth conducted throughout the year and the generous donations of St. Margaret's members. It was also made possible by the way this community has formed its youth in faith. Every word of encouragement you've offered, every gesture of inclusion you've made is reflected in the children and youth of this community. For this, I thank you all.
I have always contended that some of my best teachers have been kids. This latest adventure continued to prove the rule. This knowledge is why I brushed off the comforting words about my bravery. Being with church kids (while exhausting) has never failed to be food for my soul.
But if you really want to know how the Youth Pilgrimage went, don't ask me; ask the youth.