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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowy Friday

Last night I attended a junior youth gathering at the home of a good friend of mine. The Baha'i junior youth program is open to youth between the age of 12 and 15, and is intended to give this special age group the space and opportunity to develop their power of expression and articulation in a supportive environment. There is an emphasis on social justice and community service, and the participants often take part in activities that are of service to the community.

The group that I joined last night begin every Friday session by cooking supper and then enjoying a meal together. Last night we made a big pot of apple and vegetable soup and sandwiches. The group is composed of two islanders islanders, a young woman from Yemen, three from Taiwan, one from The Philippines, one from South Korea, one from Kuwait and one from Vietnam. All together in the kitchen, some of us chopping, some of us washing vegetables, some of us stirring at the stove, some of us setting the table, we are a rainbow of cultures and backgrounds--a miracle really that we are all working together with joy and laughter and few disagreements or misunderstandings. Sitting around the table enjoying our steaming bowls of soup, the room filled with jokes and laughter. With so much in the news about disunity and prejudice, watching how seamlessly the youth melted into a single group impressed me.

After supper we divided into two groups, the older youth joining me in one room, and the younger group joining Sara, the youth from Kuwait in another room. The group I was facilitating last night made collages inspired by a quote that likened a mirror to the human soul, explaining that if clean and free from dust, a mirror can easily radiate the brilliant light of the sun, but if allowed to collect dirt and dust, its innate ability to reflect light is diminished. We discussed the ways in which we can keep our "mirrors" clean and able to reflect light, and then attacked the pile of magazines in the middle of the room and started creating a visual representation of how we can nurture the qualities and actions in our lives that keep our lives full of light.

It had started snowing in the afternoon, and by the evening it was snowing steadily, the streets of Charlottetown blanketed in a thick, soft layer of ice crystals. Sitting in our little circle with scissors and magazines chatting away as we worked, I felt deeply content and happy to be with this group of young people--to be learning with them and from them. Before the end of the night we shared our collages, each person explaining the significance of every image they had chosen, and how the image would remind us to keep our mirrors polished and reflecting light brilliantly.

At the end of the night we swept the layer of snow off of the car roof and windows and bundled in. It was my first time to drive in snow in a two years, and I took it slow. There is something otherworldly about driving down white streets at night. Everything seems dreamlike and surreal. After I had dropped everyone off and made it home and into bed I lay awake for a long time reflecting on what a great night it had been, and how much joy it is to spend my Friday nights with such a diverse group of people creating together, sharing conversation about social and spiritual transformation, cooking and enjoying food together and enjoying the white light flooding in the big windows from the snowy night outside.

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