This week our co-op took time out to discuss some difficult issues. We did this within age-separated classes so we could be age appropriate in our discussions. The topics stemmed from mean comments on our private site for them and then a recent child suicide. The child was known to one of our families and only almost 12.
In our Little Flowers class I let them make construction paper flowers while directing a discussion about how we show virtues to others we see in a way that helps them gain the virtue. I found it helpful to write down for the girls specific places like home, church, class and neighborhood. I worked with them till we were very specific: Saying a Rosary can be out of Faith but may not show Faith to another. Saying, "Let's try again," and writing JMJ on the top of the science lab paper might show Faith to your partner.
I was far more direct to my teens in writing class. I have watched this group grow up. They were between 3 and 6 when the Columbine shootings happened 10 years ago today. They were innocent and oblivious. Now they are becoming young men and women and suffering all the ails of adolescence.
I began with a list of literature that allows great character study, the name of yesterday's feast: Divine Mercy, and the name of our class: writing. I told them I would have failed if I did not, over the year, help them to grow in their ability to communicate their Faith and hope well. I told them why we were doing this talk, talked about the young man and his despair. "We won't let this pass without talking to you about it because you are too precious to us." (I didn't lose it.)
We discussed the vocabulary of despair: depression, compassion, mercy. Had I told my son before that despair is losing faith that God could solve your problems or heal you? I can't remember. But today it happened.
And I meant what I said my beloved young friends:
All of us in this co-op are here for you if you need to talk: your parents, teachers, friends, Fr. Marek, Fr. Henry. and that if God can fix me--- He can fix anything!
I am so proud of all of you for handling the discussion with maturity and open hearts. You are a real blessing to me and your parents.