By Matt Perry - 1 March 2020
Last July, I stood on the promenade up above the beach in Bournemouth and looked down at the hundreds of people resting and playing on the sand. Some just laying, relaxing chatting; some playing the water or passing a frisbee. On the waters' edge sat a couple of children. They had their legs half sunken into the wet sand and were swinging their arms back and forth, their hands passing through the sloppy sand.
I remember the many times that I have sat in the same place, doing the same activity. There’s something about the tranquility and simplicity of it which I love. Even though there is so much noise – from the sea, from the people around, from the seagulls above – you can just be lost in the moment. Just you, the sun and the sea, free from the cares of the world.
It reminded me of a time when we took some young people to Bournemouth a few years earlier. These were young people with plenty of cares. They had grown up in East London, facing the pressures of gangs, drugs and knife crime. Life for them often felt hopeless, or at least not much more than the hope that they would stay alive through to adulthood.
But on the beach something magical happened. These young people, constantly on edge and hardened by their experiences of inner city life were able to play; were able to lose themselves in the moment. After some play wrestling and digging about in the sand they found some graffiti stencilled onto one of the wooden groynes. They set to work digging themselves a hole in the ground. This was the result:
What a joy to see young people whose daily life is a struggle have a moment of freedom from the cares of this world. Isn’t this they way it should be? Shouldn’t this be the right and experience of every child in our communities?
These young people, like all young people and like you and me, are created in the image of God. Their value is inviolable. It can’t be diminished by the stuff they are victim too, and it can’t be changed by the stuff they get involved in. Whether a Grade 9 student (that’s A** in old money) or a young person kicked out of school for bad behaviour – each of them are worth more than gold. Each has innate value and gifts, skills and talents to offer the world. Let’s not allow those around us, locally or nationally, to say anything different. Let’s challenge the idea that young people are broken or that their behaviour is irredeemable.
Let’s make sure the treasure doesn’t stay buried!
|Cover photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels|