<Hold up a popcorn kernel.>
This is a popcorn seed. Not much to look at, and if you keep it in a dry place it will stay just like this for years and years. But if you give it a bunch of heat, something remarkable can happen--see, there's moisture in the kernel and when it gets to boiling, you have a tiny pressure cooker--when the pressure gets over 135 pounds per square inch, the hull can't take it any more and the starch gelatinizes--the kernel explodes from a hard indigestible seed to a fluffy piece of deliciousness.
Transformation has occurred.
As teenagers, you are in a time of many transformations, often all at once. And like popcorn, those changes often happen in times of heat and pressure, anxiety, drama. That does not mean that life will ever be without transformation, or without heat and pressure, anxiety and drama--I know I've still got plenty of those things.
When children are babies, their parents hold them close and try to keep them secure. As they get older, though, the children need more space... and yet, they need a safe place for their transformations to happen. This is one of the blessings of religious community--that we can have a church and a coming of age program, loving teachers and compassionate and listening mentors. So our children can develop their amazing potentials without flying all willy-nilly.
So for each of our mentors, what I have here is a little symbol of the work you have done this year--in this package is a jar of popcorn kernels. The wrappings are paper lunch bags. See, you can add a little popcorn to the bag, fold the top over twice, and with just a couple of minutes in the microwave, that transformation happens, this time for a nice little snack.
We could not do the Coming of Age program without you, and we are so grateful that you have been available to support our youth and act as a sounding board as they have gone through this year. You have helped us to build this safe and sacred space where our youth can grow. Thank you.
This was inspired by an article in Christian Century about popcorn--paid subscription required.