Quaran-Teen: prayer and sharing bring hope
Editor’s note: Today’s blog post during National Volunteer Week is written by one of our Providence Teen Volunteers, Amanda Lakstins. To learn more about our teen volunteer opportunities, after coronavirus precautions are no longer in place, visit TeenVolunteer.SistersofProvidence.org. Adults are also invited to learn more about volunteering with the Sisters of Providence.
In our current situation and the current state of our world, we are separated and isolated. It is easy to feel anxiety, depression, anger, or any other number of things. It is easy, most of all, to feel alone.
I write this today with a whirlwind of emotions. Other than the ones I have named, I write this with hope. Even raised Christian Catholic as I was, it is very easy to forget exactly what that means, especially when things get hard as they are now. It is easy to forget that there is a God who loves and cherishes each of us, and that even when we feel alone, we are not. That same God is with us always.
Sad and angry
When this quarantine started, when my school days were cancelled and Mass became watching a live video, when hanging out with my friends became a group video call, I forgot that for a time. It was easy to be sad. Sad that things were different. And angry. Angry that I could not do the things I should have been doing. It took me time to stop pushing those feelings away. I did not want to feel that, because I knew it was for the best, and it was no one’s fault, and it needed to be done. But even knowing all those reasons, I still felt those things. And when I accepted that, it became the first step towards reconciling them. And I felt just a little bit better as I began to dig through this storm of emotion and attempt to make some sense of it.
The second step I took came in an unlikely form: a text message from Sister Joni Luna. It read:
“Amanda, I have an idea I would like to share with u.”
And so, intrigued and painfully bored, I replied.
The idea? “Have a prayer group online with teens.”
And we were off! Sister Joni wanted to do the rosary every weekday. We’d offer up intentions, and then do a decade of the rosary each night, making for a full rosary each week. We set it up using Discord, an instant messaging app. When you join you are essentially in a group phone call. It took some working out to get everyone together. Monday at 9 p.m., we got on the voice channel, we all shared how we felt and what we wanted to pray for, then we said our one decade of the rosary. After the decade, we all share how we feel after having prayed, and then we say goodnight.
I was surprised after just the first night how much of a difference the group prayer made for me. I felt lighter, more hopeful. My emotions didn’t feel so crushing. It was like I had been underwater since the start of the quarantine and the group prayer was the first time I had come up for air. It wasn’t just one thing about it that made the difference, it was a combination of all of it. Suddenly, I was having real, honest conversations with people outside of my family. I can say how I feel without fear, and I get the reassurance that I am not alone in my feelings. And that’s comforting in its own way, having your feelings validated, knowing that in that small way there were others with you. I felt so much less alone.
Helpful and healing
It’s therapeutic, to listen without judgement and know that in return you will not be judged. To know that you are safe to say how you feel and to give others that sense of security. It’s a matter of expressing emotion in a time when it feels like anything other than calm acceptance is almost taboo. It’s freeing.
The other part that helps, the practical part, is that it gives me a sense of routine. In a time where it seems like I have no structure and I simply do things when I decide to, it’s comforting to have something to do every weeknight at the same time. It makes me feel better to be able to say, “I have something to do today,” and “I’m actually busy right now, could we do that at a different time?”
The prayer is just as important as the discussion. It took some getting used to, the echo and crackle of static in the background as a mix match of voices soft and just a little out of sync murmured the Hail Mary and the Our Father and the Glory Be. But it has beauty in its own way, the echoing and buzz and the noise of other people’s households in the background as we pray. It feels powerful, the fact that over distance and disease and executive orders, we are here saying these prayers together virtually. That we care enough to be doing it, that we recognize that it matters enough to be going to such lengths, because it does. It’s humbling and enlightening, the quiet prayers of teenagers echoing on a Discord server in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. It proves that we can and we do come together, and that we know what matters. But most importantly: We are Not Alone.
We invite any interested teens to join us at 9 p.m. weeknights for discussion and prayer. We’ve also added a teen bible study group on weekdays at 2 p.m. We would love to have you join either or both. For more information and/or to join us, contact Sister Joni Luna at 361-500-9505 or firstname.lastname@example.org