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A night of gratitude…

One evening at our Crisis Program I brought in one of my favourite movies “Freedom Writers” and asked if there were any youth who would like to watch it.  We had a small group of six girls, and we watched the movie in our Drop-In area. The movie is based on the true story of a young first-time teacher who teaches a class of underprivileged youth in the States, who end up doing some amazing things.   

After the movie we decided to go out onto the patio and do a little gratitude ritual. On the way to the patio Lucy said to me that one of the characters reminded her of herself. This young girl was taught when she was very young by her father to be tough. In the movie you see this young girl with boxing gloves learning how to fight. Lucy said that her father was the same way, and that she also learned it was not ok to cry. She said she has always had a tough exterior around other people. She explained that her father worked very hard and was very strict with her and her younger siblings. She knew it was because he loved them but that it was still hard.  

When we went out on the patio, I had an empty bowl, some rocks, a pitcher of water and some candles. I asked the girls (if they felt comfortable) to pick up a rock and think of something they were grateful for. They could speak it out loud or if they wanted, they could just hold the thought silently. They could then put the rock in the bowl and pour a little water from the pitcher over it. We would do this until everyone felt they had put in all their desired grateful rocks. Then at the end everyone would take a candle and put it in the water and light it, and we would have a moment of silence.   

The girls had a lot to say and shared many things they were grateful for including family, friends, being at Covenant House and the support they had received from many caring people. As we seemed to be nearing the end, Lucy was holding a rock. I thought she was just saying something silently and would put it in the water. We all waited.  

Then in a small quivery voice she held out her rock and said, “I am thankful for everything that has happened to me in my life even every bad thing.” I heard gasps from the other girls as she said this. She then continued “Because, I know that all these things have brought me to this very point here in my life.  I want to be vulnerable. I want to be who I am and to live my life in a way that I am not frightened to be who I am.” 

After the girls put their candles in the water lit from each other’s candles, we all sat quietly drinking in the silence, and the words spoken and unspoken.   

On the way downstairs Lucy told me that she was going to call her dad the next day and tell him that he didn’t need to worry so much and that she cared for him. The next day I was at work. I asked her if she had called her father. She said she had, but that he was the same way. I looked at her and said, “It sounds like you are planting seeds.” She gave me a big smile and said “YES”. 

Shared by Youth Worker Lesley