Yesterday Regan received her first communion. Her proud aunts & uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. all gathered to wish her well and celebrate as she marked this first milestone in moral and intellectual development. We only had two young ones, so things went fast. I had a moment to think upon stories.
Above many things, this is a rite of storytelling. In the readings, we heard a tale 2000 years old, --in many ways older--of grouchy old we-don't-need-to-change elders who have no interest in allowing their group to evolve. Paul and Barnabas, as young leaders have done for ages, say, to their tribe: 'Fine. We offered. You refuse. We'll find a new group."
Later, Father spoke directly to the children, telling a story even older. The story could be of any time, of children and a father, presents and a tree. It could be in any language or any culture (where there are trees, anyway). It reminded me that one of the oldest stories in our culture--passing four thousand years-- is the tale of the Garden of Eden and the Forbidden Tree.
This day celebrated the girls, it gives them a first experience of being publicly acknowledged. Acknowledged not for individual exceptionalism, but for growing in an exceptional community. That alone is a gift too many people don't get. But it also marks our commitment to continue to pass on the stories of those who came before...and the realization that community will continue long after our encounter with troubles and joys is long gone.