2016 Youth Passageways Summit Reflection - by Siri Gunnarson, Will Scott, and Gigi Coyle

We, attendees from 'Beyond Boundaries' and 'School of Lost Borders'
are, some of us, immigrants, settlers, refugees, metis or mutts.
We are all visitors here for brief moments in universal time, 
some kind of ancient modern pilgrims,
landing on new shores.

Together we are asking, what ceremonies are right for this land,
these people, these times?

Everywhere we see people seeking connection,
community – indigenous experience, knowledge and ways,
longing for belonging

It is these ways of remembering,
knowing we are part of this earth,
that have too often been destroyed, forgotten, lost.
Seeking home in family, tribe, culture,
ripped from our roots, we spiral into natural, man-made disasters,
hate crimes, police killings, another school shooting,
un-initiated in the classrooms, in gated communities, in police uniforms,
suicides on the “res”, in the streets, and in our hearts, 
races, creeds, elites, and destitutes of all ages, at war.

During the Youth Passageways Summit in Los Angeles
space was given, it was a time so needed,
for dedicated Youth Guides from all walks of life
to listen to each other,
experience and reveal the journey, the joy, the gift,
the pain, the anger, the fear around and within -
the cost of privilege, marginalization and avoidance.
There was just enough space in between
to keep the heart open,
allow it to be shocked, to help awaken just a little bit more
our individual and collective soul.


We were asked to inquire,
in small self-identified ethnic groupings
what we know of original ways, of rites of passage,
what was lost, what survived.

“Sitting with 12 or so Europeans
I heard longing for connection with nature, ritual, roots…
Naming the grief, the burning of the witches and our ways."

“Sitting with those in between, bridgewalkers,
I recognized the responsibility, opportunity, the bigger story
of community in earth, water, fire, and air
The life we have to live.”

“Hearing other stories of suffering and violence,
‘I hate America’ rang in my heart,
The discomfort in my skin, the insecurity of myself
I could only imagine a day-to-day feeling of being enslaved,
continually separated, profiled, marginalized, identified as threat.”

Sitting on stage, facing our circle,
Diverse faces with lineage from many world corners,
we shared just a bit of our story, just enough
to own the sorrow and grief, the legacy of war,
the source of so many peoples suffering
in our collective history of colonization.

We felt and heard a collective commitment rising,
to know our roots more deeply,
to cultivate, grow and share more awareness around privilege,
to continue and expand the dialogue, open more connection,
deepen partnership with others and the places we live.

Un-cried tears, bottled for generations,
springing forward in powerful prose and strong young leaders.
Grateful for the opportunity to listen, to witness,
to feel yet again and as if for the very first time....
the impact of cultural genocide, appropriation and discrimination.
To realize yet again and as if for the first time…
that any movement which fails to address the stories it emerges from,
is destined to repeat them.
To realize yet again, that privilege comes at great cost…
that we are not to blame, but we are responsible…
...and that we are to blame, if we don’t take responsibility.

To realize that sometimes our greatest gift is silence, attention.
To remember that no one wins in a system of oppression,
that our true liberation is collective.

We will find a way,
to continue to own, to name the history and grieve,
to restore the best of the old, discover the new,
as we learn to ask permission, to respect those who came before, 
as we find the way to connect, as part of nature, land and city,  
as we work to initiate, respect, support the youth in our communities,
as we offer ceremonial life inherited from our ancestors, 
reawakened in our hearts and bones.

We are grateful for the opportunity to have come,
to slowly listen into possibilities for healing, for authentic reconciliation.
Fueled by fully showing up at this summit.
We will be relentlessly truthful, we will be who we are,
Asking for what we need and offering what we can .
We will move forward by seeing, listening, learning
through prayer, through action, through love, 
for ourselves, each other, Life,
for future generations.


Don't ask yourself what the world needs,
ask yourself what makes you come alive,
and then go do that.
Because what the world needs is
people who have come alive.


Howard Thurman