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Since school is back in, it’s got me thinking about young students who have been growing up these past few years and what they’ve endured: a global pandemic, significant political and social unrest, regular school shootings, climate crises, etc. You know, all on top of just growing up and the usual troubles that come with that.
It makes me want the best for them. Quantity of knowledge, academic acumen, the pressure of “the future,” they all can take the back burner for a good while, in my opinion.
My primary hope for them is a good group of friends, because friendship is the best pedagogy in learning what’s worthwhile—that which makes you human.
Cameron and I have been watching an absolute gem of a sitcom called Derry Girls. The show depicts a friend group of four Northern Irish girls and an English cousin who has awkwardly joined the gang. They all live in the town of Derry during the 90s, which means they’re in the midst of what has been named “the Troubles.” A time characterized by civil unrest, bombs in public places, military checkpoints in the streets, and xenophobia between Protestants and Catholics.
Derry Girls, however, doesn’t primarily focus on the Troubles. They are merely the backdrop to this friend group’s shenanigans. One reviewer writes, “The girls get into all kinds of trouble — stealing lipstick from dead nuns, pranking hot priests, and holding holy statues hostage…It’s funny and heartfelt and manages to weave the terror and trauma of living in a war-zone with the normal angst and adventures of teenagedom.”
Very few shows can make me laugh so loudly that I’m concerned the neighbors are disturbed and also make me cry from the words of Bill Clinton, of all people.
Though the Troubles are in the background, Derry Girls is still a commentary on them. You see, peace and the things that make for it aren’t primarily learned in school or lectures or books or even homilies. As the show so rightly shows, those things which are worthwhile — just peace, enduring joy, beloved community — are all primarily learned through the pedagogy of friendship, which these young students artlessly live out.
Watch the video below if you’re interested in seeing how the show depicts the beauty of friendship. You may even cry a little. But, be forewarned, there is some crass language.
For all those who are growing up and going to school, let this prayer be a blessing for you:
God who became incarnate to befriend us fully,
send these students friends, and make them good friends to others.
Amidst all these troubles and their personal troubles,
we pray that they may know and learn what is worthwhile —
what brings about just peace, enduring joy, beloved community
through the pedagogy of friendship.
Make them happy. Let them know they belong.
In the name of the one who calls us friends, Amen.
Header photo by Cameron Carley: The top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont.