For God’s Gift, our First Eucharist & Reconciliation program, Tom McGrath wrote several short pieces for Together, the parents’ magazine. They are splendid and I want to share them with you in the weeks ahead.
In college, I was an activities counselor at a group home for boys ages 5 to 10. They were wards of the state, and many of them had known a lot of trouble in their short lives.
One boy in particular had me stumped. Try as I might, I could never get through to Darryl. He didn’t act up a lot as some of the other boys did, but he was distant and aloof. He resisted any attempt to get close to him.
One holiday some of the boys were lined up to spend the day with relatives. The rest would come along with me to my parents’ house for dinner and festivities. Darryl’s aunt had made arrangements to pick him up, and he was waiting for her to come as I led my group of celebrators home with me.
When we returned, Darryl greeted me with a powerful punch to the chest. “She never came,” he snarled as he continued to lash out at me. I grabbed him and held him close, even as he shouted out his rage to the world. I heard and felt and received his pain. I simply held it for him as I held him until his fury was spent.
From that day on, we connected. Darryl didn’t talk a lot about his home situation, but he was no longer aloof. He became a popular member of the group and began to enjoy the games and trips and storytelling that were our daily fare. I realized that what he was always holding back from us was the pain of loss he felt inside. It was only when he revealed his deepest pain that he could accept the connection with others he so longed for.