When I was a teenager, Maundy Thursday was one of the most memorable nights of the church year for me.
As a kid, there was something about those few services during the year when we attended church at night. In other churches and traditions attending at night might be completely commonplace. But in my childhood church home, evening services were quite exotic. As I recall, they only happened three times a year; Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Christmas Eve.
Now, no adult who saw me at those Maundy Thursday services would have had a clue what an impact they had on me. Keep that in mind when you think all of your efforts to impart tradition and wisdom and memories to your teenagers is having about as much effect as shouting into a hurricane.
No, I did not appear all holy and contemplative in my corduroy skirt and peasant blouse. I'm sure if I bowed my freshly permed head it was mostly to hide the fit of giggles my best friend Karen and I erupted into at least half a dozen times during the somber service.
(Okay, but seriously, we had this male soloist who, I'm sorry, was just a recipe for making immature youth dissolve into shoulder shaking, tears streaming, mom-giving-you-the-evil-eye church giggles. What was the worship committee thinking? The vibrato on that man! And the volume! The volume plus vibrato was positively more than two girls already prone to hysterical laughter could take. It's no wonder our parents didn't care if we sat in the back by ourselves. I'm sure they wanted to disown us and feign utter ignorance to our shenanigans.)
But in between the giggles and the eye rolls and the whispers and all of that other stuff that teenage girls do, seeds of faith were being planted.
Nothing could have told you that something was stirring in me every time I walked into that quiet sanctuary. You wouldn't have known that when the bread was broken and the wine was poured, my heart swelled just a little. All you would have seen was an awkward teenage girl sitting in a dark sanctuary looking for all the world as though she had better places to be.
And maybe it was the darkness that made it all make more sense? Because even as a teenager I seemed to understand that there is both darkness and light in this world. What teenager doesn't? What other time in our lives is more punctuated with the highest highs and the lowest lows?
Sharing a meal with friends. Telling our stories. Saying good bye. The pain of betrayal. The fear of what lies ahead. Left alone. Soul crushing despair. The family and friends who stand by you and the ones who run away. Forgiving. Loving. Faith. And ultimately, hope.
Even as a teenager I could see and hear and understand that this is the story. This is our story.
Nobody wants to be broken.
But we will be. A thousand times over.
The question is, will you reach out and grab hold of that which will make you whole again?