It’s spring, and it has turned into a time of incorporating ‘lasts’ and spring rituals of the year into the ongoing rhythm of the congregation…final Coming of Age retreat; FUUY warm-up bike ride to Kimball’s Ice Cream stand; final classroom religious education programs for the year; and LOTS of preparation for Operetta. The Emerson/Alcott room’s turned into a costume room; there is heightened excitement in the air on the part of children and youth, and there’s also a feeling – among youth and parents – of “too much to do and too little time.” Such is the life cycle of a busy congregation, and along with it, stress and feeling stretched in too many directions.
Many of you are aware of the New York Times article which ran over the last month, focusing on school stress in Lexington. If you have not read it (or wish to look at it again) please see “It Takes a Suburb,” April 9, 2017. Fast on the heels of this article came the crushing news, just before April vacation week, of the death by suicide of a Lexington high school student. Although it is hard to be sure why this young woman choose to end her life, we can only hope – and pray – that our children and youth will receive the strength and support that they deserve and that we who are their parents, mentors, friends, allies, can give them.
Against these realities, I note that Netflix has begun airing a new show, “13 Reasons Why,” which shares the story of a young woman who choose to end her life – using her voice and perspective to share the reasons why she choose suicide (see .). Lexington Superintendent Mary Czajkowski and co-author Valerie Viscosi wrote a letter to families, and a similar one was written from the Superintendent of the Arlington school system, urging parents to not let their children view this show. Czajkowski and Viscosi write, “There are always options other than suicide. There are people who can help, even when it doesn’t feel that way. Talking with a school counselor or another trusted adult is encouraged, and counseling staff members are trained to support students who are coping with … significant challenges.”
I want to echo and affirm Czajkowski and Viscosi’s point from our perspective: There are people at Follen Church who can help support parents and youth in meeting the challenges of life. There are support groups in place, lay ministers who work with adults and youth and children. The ministers and I have names of counselors and therapists, and are also very willing to meet with youth, children and families – individually or together – to listen, reflect, and try to help.
I get it: life is busy. Things get stressful. But sometimes, it’s important to remember the meaning of church. We are here in the good times and the tough ones. You can bring your imperfect, broken or bruised self to our door, and we will be here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you might need a friendly ear or support during this busy, busy time — or in any time in which your life is challenged by the pressures of the world.