On one of the rare warm sunny evenings during the summer I sat on a wall in Blackrock. The sun was setting across the wide expanse of sand, and lots of young people had congregated. I noticed three boys sharing a pizza, some girls taking pics for their Instagram, forming funny shapes against the backdrop of the baths. Some others had their dogs and passed the time throwing sticks and a ball. As I walked back towards the car a few more passed me by carrying some cans and no doubt going to enjoy chilling out and having the craic. I hardly noticed, or took any account of what they were wearing.

Then this week I sat having a coffee on the main street in the early afternoon, about 3.00pm. There were young people all around, but now dressed in their school uniforms. Boys with white shirts untucked, flapping in the wind, school ties askew. The girls sat in circles in green, red and blue school jerseys, plain and tartan skirts, full of laughter and jollity. The longer I sat, the more aware I was of what they were wearing, each and everyone uniformed and crested, from one or other of the myriad of local schools. I hadn’t realised that Blackrock was such a melting pot for them to mingle, grab a sandwich, chat, before on bike, foot or Dart they headed off home. They seemed happy and carefree, first days back at school, not a worry in the world, hardly any homework yet and yes lots to catch up on.

There was something timeless and eternal about seeing young people both in holiday mode and in their term time mingling. They have the same need to be in company, to tackle learning, find independence, build bonds of friendship and enjoy life. They need love and support, structure and discipline, vision and compassion to thrive and make the most of life. Hopefully they will also have a spiritual dimension to life, and discover the presence of a loving God, a church community who know and cherish them, and grow in faith. Whatever their vocation, what they are becoming, let’s pray that they stay safe, well and prosper.