Friday night I drove to Oromilaca for a meeting of their youth community.
I goth there early and went to the house where we were going to meet. I ended up playing with a precocious three year old, Jefferson, while waiting for the young people to arrive.
I have been meeting with the youth groups or communities in the parish to get to know what they are doing and how I can help them. I also try to bring a theme to work on with them.
This is a group of about 18 people, including some non-young people who accompany the young people. One of the young men had prepared a theme but let me develop the one I had brought – on friendship.
My method is to involve as many as possible in the process. I recalled the song “I want a million friends,” and asked them if they could really have a million friends – outside of Facebook. (Yes, Facebook is well known among the young people who access Facebook on their phones.)
I asked the young people how many real friends they have. Typically the answers were three or four, though one guy said he had thirty!
Then we shared what we liked to do with our real friends. Most said talk, share joys and difficulties.
Then I put a piece of paper on the floor and asked them to write down qualities of a good friend, without saying what they are writing. I do it this way so that everyone has a chance to share.
Then I read the contributions. At one point I was having trouble reading what was written and asked for help. A young man came forward and turned the paper. I was trying to read it upside down! We all started laughing – and I broke into a belly laugh. (The accompanying photo is from 2011 but is fitting.)
We finished sharing what was written and then added a few things that were missing. Not surprisingly one aspect of a good friend that no group had written was the ability to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.
We continued and then I had them write what damages or destroys a friendship. They rushed the paper and wrote down their thoughts.
After more sharing, I read the passage of love in the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. I then re-read the passage, substituting “friend” for the places where Paul writes love. It is strikingly apt.
However, I kept on saying “love” instead of “friend” and they corrected me and we laughed together.
It was a great hour and a half and I left, to drive back the half hour to Plan Grande in the twilight. But it had been a great experience – in great part because I could laugh – at myself.