HopeTree, which ironically, is a residential group home for those whom many would consider hopeless. When I lead chapel services, my goal is primarily to share God's love and grace for them, letting them know that life can be radically different. Although they come to us hurt, scarred (physically, spiritually, and emotionally), neglected, and angry, I want them to know that this doesn't always have to be their reality. God has a better plan for them if they can only find the hope to go after God's dreams for them. So many of them appear to have already given up at age 15, and after hearing their stories, I don't blame them. But I am scared for them in their unknown and dark futures, alone, and only pretending to be tough on the outside when they are falling apart on the inside.
This past Sunday, I read a children's book entitled If I Never Forever Endeavor by Holly Meade.
In the story, a bird has to decide whether to leave the comfort and security of her cozy nest and try to fly. She is afraid of failing or of getting lost, but she is also afraid of missing out on discovering new skills, places and friends. It's a lovely book with a good message for all of us.
After reading the story, we discussed our own fears and what flying would mean for us, then I asked the teens to make a collage of what their dreams would look like if they choose to fly away (at the right time!) from the HopeTree. They seemed to enjoy the assignment and set to work quickly. After a little while, one guy told me he was done and showed me his result. He had found pictures of a boxer and a guitar and shared that he would like to learn to box as a hobby while becoming a musician (a skill that he's currently working on). I complimented him on his work and dream and he asked what he should do with his collage. I told him he could keep it in his room as a reminder, but he said, "No, will you hang onto it for me?" I promised I would put it on my office wall, and that's when it hit me...that's what we do here.
We are the dream holders. We carry the hopes and dreams of our youth when they are too scared to do it themselves. We carry them through the darkness, promising the light ahead. We learn that they won't accept our answers or our truths, but I'm starting to see that when we accept their truths and understand the meaning behind their answers, we can see the faint dreams that linger beyond the hurt. If we can carry them through in the short time we have, perhaps those dreams can be born in another time when they have begun to heal and to open to the love and truth we planted within them.