While having morning tea at a friend’s place recently, his teenaged son came into the kitchen still tousled with sleep to tell us his dream – a nightmare, really. It was about an evil takeover of the world, the details still vivid in his grainy voice and frightened eyes. Coming from this sensitive and immensely gifted boy – one of the “radiant ones,” as I’ve come to identify them – both his father and I were in shock, and as soon as he left the room we both burst into tears. Why we didn’t follow him to offer comfort and care, I’ll never know.

Maybe we were as scared as he was.

Today I learned that this beautiful young man has had a ‘break’ and is currently being hospitalized.

What is this world we have brought our precious children into? This boy is not the first brilliant young person I have known to fall apart just before launching his gifts into the world. I’m told these teenage breakdowns are reaching epidemic status!

But we need them – and they need us!

I was asking my brother about this the other day, as we also have teenagers in our family, and his understanding is that the current generations include many of these remarkable souls who have come in to help us through this painful time of transition we are going through on Earth. We’ve both noticed, for about twenty-five years now, a new kind of radiance about many of these young ones, a kindness of spirit and deep intelligence. I’ve seen it even in some tiny ones, in the wisdom in their baby eyes, deep and knowing even as they sparkle with fun and mischief! And deeply sensitive to the feelings of others around them.

My brother believes that while they have come in for this critical era of change, the rough vibrations of our times bombard their young nervous systems painfully, and many of them cannot handle the stress. He says, and I agree, that their ultimate task is to help us all move into a higher frequency of vibration, an expanded consciousness based upon intuition, love and connectedness rather than competition, individualism and personal profit.

These young ones are our best and our brightest, in serious jeopardy as they grow into adulthood in a very messed-up world.  How can we protect them so they can do what they are here to do, and how might we use their gifts to all of our best advantage?

That has to be our calling as elders, I believe. I ask myself daily how we might actually use this situation we find ourselves in to both support the young and help them to help  us evolve the world?

I got a glimpse of ‘how’ we might do that last week at a performance of the Christmas Revels, on the longest and darkest night of the year. This gorgeous ritual of music and story was sweeping into its final chorus, the large cast of children and adults in colorful costumes singing at full voice an ancient carol of blessing, the trumpets and viols blaring out behind them, and we in the hall singing our hearts out along with them.

I literally fell to my knees and wept. Touched down to heart and soul, I recognized again the power of Art to move and to heal by reminding us of the great gift of being alive in the world right here, right now amongst all of life, plant, animal and human. Art is the magical gift, the birthright not to be squandered, but to be lived with love and creative imagination while we have the breath to do so. Nothing less will save ourselves and our children, I believe.

But nobody ever said it would be easy.

So, how?

By doing what we do as beautifully as we are able, whatever that is – from making supper to building houses, from teaching school to growing vegetables, from painting murals to knitting colorful warm socks. And teaching that to our children.

The instinct to make art is everywhere: the child drawing with a stick in a patch of dirt; the fellow who sings in the shower; turning veggies from the garden into a mandala with well-placed nuts and raisins. And who doesn’t take photos of every pretty thing with their cell-phones?

Did you know that the San Francisco Department of Waste Management – read ‘Garbage’ system – has a Recology Project for artists to paw through their trash for art materials? I’ve been to their gallery – ingenious stuff with movable parts – and gone to a concert at Symphony Hall of percussion music composed for old forks, shopping carts, tattered flop-flops and who knows what else that bangs and clatters!

The music was quite gorgeous, in fact.

That’s the spirit! Better than sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. After all, if life gives us lemons we can make lemonade, which is fine, but maybe lemon chiffon pie would lift our spirits a little bit more? And be more fun. Or lemon marmalade to sweeten many breakfasts, and even give out as Christmas presents!

And if we are brought to our knees, why not see what the body feels like doing when our legs get tired? Maybe that first stretch will lead to an interesting turn of the hips, and one arm might lift into the air and shake out in a new way?

A stretch or two later, and we are actually dancing.

Want to scream, to rant, to sob? I do all the time. And once that first burst of frustration gets out of my system, I release the rest with a voiced sigh, letting a hum come from deep down until it becomes barking and wild crazy noises – best to do this with friends – until we are laughing and letting it all out! Gradually noise becomes sound, and sound becomes breath and breath becomes melody and harmony. We are now singing!

Then, we sit down in quiet meditation. Then we talk.

Has your life given you scraps? Well, it’s obvious that you have what it takes  to make a quilt!

C’mon over. I’ve got shelves full of scraps in every color.

I’ll share. I mean it!