Dear Junie,

We are so very proud of you. And though you’re not confirmed yet, we’re close enough for me to reflect on it.

I remember you being born. You guys lived with Grammy for a few months before you moved, and I had an inside scoop to seeing little baby Junie in action.

I think I used a LOT of film for someone who didn’t really like babies. I just couldn’t help it. I’m not sure I ever held you, to be honest. (And I know you understand.) But I watched you.

I’ve been watching you for years, all 13 of them. You were the niece who, when Uncle Bob tried to leave after a family party, stood at the door wailing because you thought he left without saying goodbye. You’re the niece who coined the phrase “That’s our Junie” within the family. You’re the niece who never ceases to make me laugh until I pee, think until I explode, and strive until I break.

I think that’s the gift we most overlook about you. Though you are an explosion of sunshine and energy (and always have been), you are also reflective and deep inside. You are working away at the Big Questions, and it is something that I so relate with. You blow it off and you shrug, but beneath the wall you’ve built, your courage forces you to face Truth and not rest until you find it.

Don’t stop searching. Ask the difficult questions. You know you can always come to us, but don’t ever, ever settle for less than the capital-T Truth. Do not ever, ever settle for the lazy thinking that so pervades the world around us. Do not ever, ever let people convince you that this great gift of faith is just a social construct or something that’s been invented to make you feel good.

Your Confirmation is, some would say, your official rite of passage into adulthood. I’m both excited and terrified for you about that, because being an adult, as I suspect you know, isn’t any better than being a kid. Life still sucks a lot and still rocks a lot. You have a lot more responsibility, but you have a lot more resources, too.

You are an adult, in that you have received both of the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism and Confirmation. You are a full-fledged member of the Body of Christ, and what was started in your Baptism when you were an infant will be fulfilled by the full gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.

Your formal classes in religious education might be finished, but don’t let go of the desire to learn. There’s no shortage of information available to you in the last 2000-plus years of our Christian faith. But even more importantly, don’t stop trying to get closer to God.

You are part of the army now, and it’s a very real war that’s going on, many times beneath the noses of people who would rather ignore the important issues in favor of what’s convenient and easy.

You will face difficult choices in the years to come. Do not ever be afraid to turn to God and, as you shake your fist at him, throw yourself into his arms. Just as he has carried you safely through hurdles before, he will do so again.

We do not ever understand the full extent of how God is at work in our lives. Life, though not easy, is filled with many opportunities for God’s grace to work in us and through us. You have been such a conduit of grace in my life, and in the lives of so many others, I can only think that God must have some big plans for you, sister. 🙂

May the Holy Spirit remain close to you and may you always have the courage to say Yes to God, just as Mama Mary and Saint Anthony did. Turn to your guardian angel and your special patrons in your dark hours of need and know that we, too, will be here for you to help guide you, to the best of our ability, back to God’s loving arms.

And when you feel lost, which will surely happen, remember that there is never a question too big or a burden too heavy for God. Remember that Jesus doesn’t just walk beside you, but he carries you through the blackest times.

Thank you for the gift you continue to be in my life. Thank you for your ready smile and your quick wit, your smiley texts and your quiet non-touching hugs. Thank you for listening when I ramble and interrupting with a joke when I’m not going anywhere with my thoughts.

And thank you for letting me be such an intimate part of this process and be so touched and changed by your life.

With love,

Aunt Sarah

Pictured: Junie and I, over a year ago. OBVIOUSLY Aunt Sarah needs an updated pic!