What’s in the Sauce?

by Karen Richter

Sometimes I feel like I write a SWC post for this blog and half of the sentences end with question marks. Today is going to be one of those days.

One of our greatest gifts is the capacity to wonder, to ask questions, to remain curious and open to new knowledge throughout our lives. Right now, at Shadow Rock, we’re talking on Sunday mornings during education and spiritual formation time with activists in the community. It’s great to find out more about different issues, of course, but we’re asking wondering and exploringmore about their journeys…
what brought them to the field in which they’re active, how they stay motivated, what they do for self-care. I don’t yet know if we’ll find that activists in different fields have common experiences.  Maybe we’ll know more by the end of the month; in the meantime, we are listening lots. 

Yesterday’s guest, Kelley Dupps from Arizona Planned Parenthood, was passionate and thoroughly engaging (and much appreciated!).  He used an interesting word to describe his work in education, LGBTQ equality, and reproductive healthcare: COMPULSION. He gave a sense of something beyond passion for social change: a feeling that he was engaged in this work because he couldn’t do otherwise.

In the same session, a participant relayed their frustration at conversations with closed-off, closed-minded relations and acquaintances. Some people, we all agreed, simply were not able to listen to new information and hold their own opinions loosely. These folks’ abilities to entertain another person’s point of view and consider the long-range effects of their own views were, at the least, disused and rusty from neglect.

How does this happen? What kinds of experiences make us who we are and when do these experiences happen?

This is a fun thought experiment, something that those of us with curiosity about such things like to discuss over coffee. But the stakes are high, my friends.

As our congregations work with childrenwonder child and youth, it behooves us to find that secret sauce that forms our young people into curious, open, faithful humans.

What’s in that secret sauce? I’m working on it, y’all*. I suspect that the recipe includes some of the following, in different ratios for different families and in different congregations:

  • Training and real practice in discernment
  • Consistent exposure to spiritual disciplines of meditation and centering prayer
  • Connection to creation
  • Involvement of faithful adult mentors
  • Experience with the joy of service and justice work
  • Safe space to talk about all of the above!

The world needs our theology of inclusion and grace more than ever. Let’s keep talking about the best ways to pass that gift on to the next generation.

*When I’m feeling particularly earnest, my Southern accent comes out… even in writing.