It has been a year since this Agape photo was taken and nine months since I’ve seen any of the youth pictured in it. We took this photo way back when people could stand close to each other and the worst we had to worry about was getting everyone in one frame and to look in the same direction.
What a long year it has been! Since then we’ve had to pause Agape, revision Agape, modify Agape, revision again, and modify again. It has been frustrating to have to constantly change plans, particularly when there doesn’t seem to be any way to know what is really safe and what will really help. Even as I write, I am filled with anxiety about what the next months may bring and what else could happen - not just for Agape (though, that too), but for all the people in this picture and the people they love, the activities that bring them joy, and the places that feel like home for them. There is a lot to worry about, to lament and mourn.
Each day, my children’s teachers offer them opportunities to record something in their “gratitude journal.” I’m not sure if these journals are a routine part of the academic curriculum or a new addition offered by the new school counselors who play a major role in social/emotional learning during these difficult days of at-home learning. Regardless, keeping a gratitude list is one of the recommendations for combating anxiety and depression. I think it also helps us to remember that we do not exist in a vacuum.
It’s photos like this one that remind me that I do not exist in a vacuum. Even if I have not seen many of the people pictured in months, and even if standing that close to another human being now seems impossibly dangerous, the photo reminds me that we are still a community of people who put love first. For that, I am immensely grateful.