Today I helped a group of people who are training to be animators of junior youth groups. We talked about how to discuss spiritual concepts in practical ways, particularly confusing concepts like free will, the nature of good and evil, and what it means to be a human being. We especially focused on ways that drawing out clarity of these sorts of issues can help empower young people, allowing them to learn from their mistakes, forgive themselves and others, and make positive choices.

These sorts of discussions can mean the difference between a young person believing “I’m just an angry person,” or “I have a strong sense of justice,” although the signs might be the same.

We were about halfway through the section we were studying when the doorbell rang. It was a man named John. Nasim, whose home we were in, had met him in a park three years ago, but hadn’t seen him in two years. John’s mother and six-year-old son were with him, and we stopped our training to invite them in, say some prayers, drink some tea, and talk.

Yes, we’re eager to start a junior youth group in Lakewood. But why? So we can have the sort of community where people of any age feel comfortable visiting one another and have conversations that really matter. So do I feel bad that we didn’t even get through one section of our workbook? Nope. Some days you go looking for community. And some days, community comes looking for you.