Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Jeremiah Program

The Rev. Nancy E. Gossling

One of the things for which I’m most grateful is my education. Until these later years, I never fully appreciated the range of opportunities I’ve had over my lifetime. I never fully appreciated attending a women’s college until now. I loved the small Christian preparatory school that I attended in the south; but I had no idea how privileged I was. Over the years, in various and diverse public and private schools, I began to learn that life is much different, much bigger and broader than I ever imagined.

As a young mother, I always appreciated the saying, “Teach a man and you teach an individual; teach a woman and you teach a family.” Today, I don’t think this is necessarily true.  Now family is an interesting concept. I like to think of family in the broadest of terms. I think of family as the family of God; and as our presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, often proclaims, “All means all.” We are all family.

I never was a single mother, although at times, because of my husband’s frequent travel, I often felt like one. To be honest, I can’t imagine getting an education without the backdrop and support of my social location in life – something that I was born into and for which I am most grateful. To be sure, I have had my own struggles and made my own choices, certain beds that I made and in which I had to lie down, but I didn’t have to struggle with a new language, a different culture, and a lack of money or support in getting an education.

The Jeremiah Program, in partnership with Endicott College, is trying to make a difference in the lives of single mothers and their children. Students are chosen by their desire to work hard to achieve a career-track education while continuing to be responsible for their children and their educations as well. Trying to break a cycle of two-generations of poverty, these women support each other as they learn life skills and empowerment in addition to taking college level courses. Often times they do so while living in housing or with a family that is not conducive to “staying the course.”

I like to put my gratitude into action. In turn, I receive lessons of immeasurable value. I want to help mothers and their children step up and out of circumstances that hold them down or hold them back from flourishing in yet unrealized ways. The Jeremiah Program in Boston offers mothers and their children this possibility and hope. They are family members, from one generation to the next, as it began long ago with the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 31:15-17

A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.

Thus says the Lord:
Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears;
for there is a reward for your work,
says the Lord:
they shall come back from the land of the enemy;
there is hope for your future.