* A few weeks ago, my friend Lorna emailed the story of an experience she’d had to our house church community. During the summer, Lorna volunteers with youth at FortWhyte Farms. I asked her if I could post it in my blog to share with a wider audience, since many of us felt it was a story that inspired faith and hope. So here it is, Lorna Derksen’s story. *
This weekend my husband Dave and I drove out to Boissevain with Vanessa and Evelyn to make strawberry jam with my mom. For three hours we experienced what a road trip with teenage girls is like. Carefully car-applied makeup, an interesting and diverse selection of music, and a lot of laughter. We were filling up with gas, having arrived at our destination, when Evelyn asked why we had invited them. Ya, it’s kind of weird, but in a good way, Vanessa added.
So I told them about one of the sharing circles that Janice, the aboriginal support teacher at the high school where I work, had led this spring when she encouraged the students to take the time to talk with their grandparents, asking them about their lives. The idea had been that there might be something for both the student and elder to gain. I thought about my mom and all the practical knowledge she has to share. And in time I thought about Evelyn and Vanessa, students with whom both Dave and I have worked, who are quite open to making connections. When Evelyn heard about this in the car, she mentioned that she had written an essay this year on the benefits of elder-youth interactions.
My parents welcomed the girls and soon we were in jam-making mode, producing more than 20 jars of jam. I’m not sure what all happened during those three hours, but as we drove out to the lake for a late night dip, the girls cried out from the back seat, your parents are adorable, we feel so lucky, like we’re being spoiled. We laughed. They had just crushed and stirred and been scalded by strawberries for three hours. Not exactly a pampering session. After a bit of silence they tried again. We don’t think you understand how we’re feeling. We never get to be treated like this. Could you please adopt us.
As cute (and clueless) as that wish was, it may also be a reflection of a dearth in their lives. Swimming in the lake, Evelyn said she was grateful for a chance just to be silly and play. They were very silly. But what has also struck me about her adoption comment are the deeper implications of desiring a more true family where we are known for who we are, free to be as we were created to be. I wonder if what initially seemed like a playful comment holds the seeds of a spiritual journey for them. That is rather hopeful.
When we got back to my parents’ place, I mentioned to my mom how they could now consider themselves adorable. My mom beamed back, we feel so privileged to have been part of tonight, she said. In the morning when my dad said goodbye to Evelyn, he said, I’d like to have a grand daughter like you. Would you let me adopt you?
In bed that night I kept thinking about the Kingdom of God, grateful that these two unlikely pairs of people brought such joy to each others’ lives. And grateful for you Dave and the ease with which you engage and show care. Thanks.