• Going Deeper: Growing in Faith and Knowledge

What I Learned From TEEP

Patricia Hurley
August 7, 2018

Some acts at the talent show in Trinity’s Forum were better than others.  But every person there sincerely celebrated each performer with deafening cheering and applause. I was in the midst of a beloved community – a community that cares for and supports each other, values the individuals, and celebrates the group. The inspiring youth, counselors, alumni and staff belong to TEEP (Trinity Education for Excellence Program) because they belong to each other.

 

As a parish, we’ll be exploring together what it means to “belong” to a community, to each other, and to God.  So lately I’ve been asking myself – what does it mean?

 

I certainly didn’t expect answers to come from a bunch of middle schoolers.  Isn’t that age group notorious for cliques, rivalries, and who’s in/who’s out? Yet here I was, visiting TEEP classes, talent show and graduation–witnessing quite the opposite.  Here were pre-teen 6th graders from neighborhoods and schools across the Boston Public system, who in five short weeks went from being quiet, awkward strangers to confident, outspoken, valued members of the larger TEEP family. How did this happen so quickly?

 

There are lots of good, rational answers. TEEP teaches strong values to the middle school youth:  Respect, Responsibility, Restraint, Reciprocity, and Redemption, and this year added Root to honor their heritage.  There are deeply committed and talented teachers, counselors and staff. Encouragement of each individual’s strengths. Team building through group projects. But lots of camps, programs and schools can claim similar attributes.

 

What’s TEEP’s special ingredient?  To my eyes, it’s Love.  It shows up in how they champion – and forgive – each other; in the continuing presence of “alumni” who become counselors, leaders, mentors and co-creators of the TEEP community while in high school and even beyond.  It’s apparent in how TEEP welcomes every visitor with curiosity and joy.

 

The love that powers and radiates from TEEP is unabashed agape – that “universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance.” (Webster’s) It’s the love God has for us – and that, ideally, we reciprocate, and extend to all children of God.  It’s the love we strive for, the love that truly builds God’s kingdom here on Earth. 

 

With that love, comes profound gratitude and a sense of oneness with each other.  At last week’s joyous event, the students even sang the old Bob Marley reggae hit – with a twist: “One love, one heart, thanks be to TEEP, and it’ll be alright.” 

 

This kind of love is infectious. I even feel like I belong, in a way, to TEEP. Certainly TEEP belongs to me – in that I want to be a part of that agape love, and I’m committed to doing what I can to help this community continue to flourish.  I hope next summer you’ll check it out for yourself.

 

In the meantime, I’ll be here with my beloved community of Trinity Church, practicing what TEEP has taught me – that to truly belong to each other and God, it’s about sharing the love.  Or as Bob Marley sang, “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right.  Let’s get together and feel all right.”

 

Faithfully,

 

Patricia Hurley

Director of Communications

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