One of the great gifts that is enjoyed during the long holiday period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s celebrations is the gift of embracing communion.

I was having a conversation with one mentor at the Braid Holiday Party who shared how her favorite holiday was Thanksgiving because it was the time when she could gather in a relaxed fashion with friends and family around the dinner table.

But, communion is not necessarily found just among family or friends or those we love.

This holiday season we had the opportunity to join Braid mentor Juliette and her team at Google to work on putting together some Cards of Hope. As we gathered around the table that was covered in hundreds of holiday cards sent to us from all over the country and world, a table covered in stickers and stamps and glitter and snacks and left-over lunches, we laughed and talked and listened to music and, well… had communion. There in a Google conference room. Not a church or a sacred place in nature, but an office.

Of course you know that this same holiday season can be the most difficult time for people, a time in which we can feel isolated and alone and without that community that can provide us with the experience of communion.

This can be especially true for some of our youth and for many young people in foster care.

Over the years we have heard many difficult stories and had our hearts break over and over. One of the most difficult was when we watched a young man in his mid-twenties stand in front of a gathering and talk about how he hated the holidays because they always reminded him that he was abandoned and alone. This in a room full of people who cared for and loved him. A childhood devoid of communion can develop and foster deep wounds.

Which is why it is so encouraging to walk with Braid into a New Year and watch as our teams proclaim that there is no shelf life to communion: it does not begin the fourth Thursday in November and end on January 2nd. There is no expiration date! Rather, every outing, every visit, every gathering is a proclamation that every week is a holiday, even if it only lasts for an hour.

Every day of the week there is a Braid team gathering around tables with their youth, tables found in parks and libraries and shopping malls and, of course, restaurants where they share meals and play games and draw and talk and encourage and ask serious questions and listen and ask nonsensical questions and listen and laugh and do homework and create crafts and visit new places and sit and rest in each other’s company.

These communion tables are full of love and joy and shout to the world that this young person belongs. Right here. Right now. In this community! What a gift! Communion.

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