The Museum of Lost Childhoods
This week sees us celebrating an event that has been several months in the making.
At a Holiday party last year we were in a conversation with the then director of California Youth Connection (CYC) Joseph Tietz. We were telling Joseph how powerful we had found the exhibition of the Foster Youth Museum (FYM) that is a “ministry” of CYC. This museum is a collection of items donated by former foster youth as a means by which to tell the story of their experience in foster care, the story of their challenges faced in care, and the stories of their dreams and successes. The museum is the brain child of Jamie Lee Evans, who is a creative and brilliant mind and who has been active in empowering and supporting youth who have life experience in foster care.
Joseph asked us, as Episcopal priests, should we want to make the museum available to our larger community where would we, should we have a chance, exhibit the museum. Without hesitating both Rebecca and I told him Grace Cathedral. And The Holy Spirit Moved.
And so began this several month process.
The journey to exhibiting the Foster Youth Museum at Grace was encouraged by the support and advocacy of Andy Lobban, a priest at Grace Cathedral, who himself was moved by the power of the museum. Many conversations ensued over these past months that included CYC, Grace, The Episcopal Diocese, and Braid and bonds were formed, new friendship and partnerships developed and relationships deepened. All the good stuff that happens when people sit down together with a dream and do the hard work of realizing that dream!
But, what is most exciting about this event is knowing that braiding together wonderful organizations and braiding together wonderful people like Jamie and Andy and Jeanie Yoon (co-director of the museum) and Rebecca Nestle (Grace Cathedral) and Ray Bussolari (the museum’s curator) is really just the beginning. For when the Spirit moves She is in the process of braiding all of it into Her working of new creations.
All this effort and work leading to this event is so that these children of God represented through the museum, and held in the house of God, can have their names carried and spoken in prayer on the lips of the thousands of visitors and worshippers who will come to Grace over the next three weeks.
And their prayers will join the prayers of God who has never stopped uttering the names of these youth, never stopped speaking the names of all foster children, they will join the lips of God who in speaking their names claims that they are not lost, but are the beloved of God.
And the names of these lost children will be joined to the Spirit who will be empowered to use these stories to hold other lost children and transform other lost childhoods.
For even while we have been setting up the museum hundreds of people have already passed by. And lifted up names like Valentino, Sade, Rochelle, Anastasia and Aja.
Rebecca and I know that the Spirit will send folks to this exhibition whose hearts will be touched and that names will be planted on lips and planted in those touched hearts and these folks will carry these stories and names back to Michigan and Italy and …
They will feel compelled to seek the lost childhoods in their own neighborhoods. And begin to speak the names of those children, and act on their behalf and do the work of seeking and finding the lost. There is no greater work that can be done.