Letter From The Editors
As we begin this first leg of Volume II, we acknowledge that the ground beneath us has shifted significantly since our last issue. A great many folks found themselves viscerally affected by the events leading up to and in the aftermath of last November’s election, several of us at Youth Passageways included. So much so, that it took center stage when we came together as a Stewardship Council toward the end of last year. The question that seemed to permeate that weekend, and which has gripped us since, has, fittingly, become the theme of this issue: What does it mean to do this work (or even be alive) in these times?
When we gathered, we found that the answers to our question were embedded, not so much in facts, figures, or even ideas, but in each other — in our being together. We found solace in the sacred activity of being present with the world, exactly as it is, and in collaboratively dreaming and acting in ways that aligned with the future we wished to see.
As creatures prone to pathologizing what is uncomfortable, we often reach for ‘solutions’ without first understanding what has caused our distress. We tend to sidestep the slow, raw work of truly facing the present. This is the way we process enormity: by chunking it down in tenses through time. Yet between any given ‘now’ and the future, perhaps what matters most is simply our willingness to stand steadfast in our discomfort, not reaching for ‘solutions,’ but being willing to step out of our singular perspectives and join with those of others. In so joining, we foster compassion at a time when it’s never been more crucial; when intolerance flourishes and exclusionary narratives abound.
Learning to face a legacy of intolerance in all its insidious forms might well be the defining rite of passage of our times. Such a challenge can leave us feeling adrift, in search of ‘meaning’ wherever it may lead. That meaning, at least as Confluence understands it, is found where we meet one another, and in the ways we care for Other. We do so to the extent that we do our own work: a work that involves remembering who we are by accepting where and who we’ve been, what we’ve done, and in so doing, passing our torches and our stories through time and across generations with integrity.
The organic network of practitioners, council holders, and agents of change who birthed Youth Passageways, and subsequently this journal, have often reminded us: Stories are living things, and the richest ones are prone to circles, spirals, and a willingness to not only speak, but listen with the whole self — to truly and authentically show up as much for those without voices as we do ourselves.
With this first installment of Volume II, we make our offering to a thick and chaotic present. It’s a markedly more personal one than the last, and rightly so. You’ll find stories and perspectives on culture, gender, death, age, resilience, and resistance that tease out nuance and challenge assumption. This issue also marks the birth of the YouthVoice Project: an effort we’ve envisioned for some time, and a space for the youth around whom this entire dream has been built to be held, seen, and heard.
We invite our readers and contributors to join us in witnessing and regenerating a world that is not constrained by category, but opened through relationship. It is a wager on unsure bets, made the more valuable by an uncertain common future. Each piece in this issue stands as an invitation, a call of its own, to you, the reader, inviting you to delve into another’s perspective and see what you find there. Regardless of how foreign or familiar what you find may feel, we find it together.
Confluence Journal Editorial Team