Last week I attended the annual Boys and Girls Club of Nashua, Youth of the Year dinner. I attended because, a couple of months earlier, an alumnus had invited me. He told me they were inducting into the club’s Hall of Fame, the 1977 Junior Bantam Boys Club of Nashua Football team, which placed second in the nation that year. I had been the volunteer coach of the team’s cheerleading squad and my younger brother Tommy played on the team. I was young myself in 1977 (really!). It was so long ago that it was a part of my life I had almost forgotten about.
While at the dinner I began to remember the time we spent together at practices and traveling around New England to play games. I was reacquainted with some of my “girls” and some of the football players and coaches. Someone reminded me of how my mother and I made the girls’ uniforms (geeze, we were good!). We looked at old team photos and celebrated the good years that had passed since then. We also grieved the loss of one of our squad members to cancer several years ago.
Though I was not able to go back to being 18 years old again (too bad!), I felt a kind of “resurrection” experience of that part of my 18 year old life, which was previously long gone! It was great to look into familiar faces, though changed by age, and to feel the bond of mutual affection, respect, and fond memories. I honestly didn’t know this was hiding somewhere inside me!
Another highlight of the evening was the naming of the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year. This award honors a club member who exhibits positive character traits, service and leadership. The judges chose a young woman, Jhanise Cardona, who stood up and spoke articulately about her life and what the Boys and Girls Club meant to her.
She shared her emotional testimony of her father who has been in and out of prison since she was only seven years old, and her mother who struggled with addiction. She told us that at a very young age, she had to be the responsible one in her home and take care of her brother and sister. When she was at the club, however, she could be a kid. She was able to have fun and the staff was there to take care of her. Through the years, Jhanise received mentoring, love, and opportunities to better herself at the Boys and Girls Club. She is now a member of AmeriCorps, working for the club, and attending Community College, aided by a scholarship from the Boys and Girls Club.
That night, it seemed to me that the Boys and Girls Club was in the “resurrection” business. Besides my own personal “resurrection moment,” the Boys and Girls club is a place of sanctuary and resurrection hope for some of society’s most vulnerable people – children. It was an honor to be there to hear about the work they do and to celebrate their Youth of the Year!
Easter will be upon us soon, and it is at this time in the Christian year that we talk about “resurrection.” The resurrection of Jesus is about triumph from tragedy. We do not forget how his Passion preceded his Resurrection. Our own struggles and triumphs are the same way. New life, new beginnings are only possible after hard work, loving support, and our overcoming of obstacles. Our faith encourages us to take comfort in the fact that we do not “go it” alone. Through it all, our God goes right along with us.
This is an Easter promise. Through the highs and lows of life, God journeys with us, even sending us people to love us and help us when we are in trouble. Sometimes we have the privilege of being the ones who are sent! And every once in a while, we might have our own “mini-resurrections” along the way.
On Easter, the mystery of Resurrection looks us straight in the eye and lovingly says to us that there is hope and new life beyond our fears, our struggles, or anything else that may come along! Resurrection hope is possible! Keep looking for it in an ordinary day, among ordinary people who do extraordinary things. It is there, just waiting for you to discover it!
I wish you and your loved ones, many Easter Blessings!
Yours in Christ’s Service,
Rev. Linda C. Hey