Thursday, June 17, 2010

Radical Acceptance: Growing Justice and Faith Group

We have this faith that supposedly says there is abundance, and we have this culture that at every turn says there is not enough and that you are not OK as you are. – Michael Schut

The Growing Justice and Faith Book Study begins Tuesday, June 22, 7:00PM, Fireside Room

Please respond to our first blog topic: Who We Really Are How can we support children to know themselves and thrive as one of God’s beloved in Christ, being accepted, revered and nurtured for who they are?

Here’s a little background about how this topic came to light. At last summer’s General Convention I listened to Michael Schut, Episcopal Church Economic and Environmental Affairs Officer, express a profound insight from his book Money and Faith – the search for enough. It was an “aha” moment for me. He quoted Henri Nouwen reflecting upon Jesus’ responses to the three temptations and how “an identity based on success, popularity and power is a false identity – an illusion! You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.”¹

I also found this expressed in John Philip Newell’s One Foot in Eden looking at the stages of life from the Celtic tradition, “the gospel promise that at our birth we bear deep within ourselves the sacredness of God’s image; ‘the true light that enlightens every person coming into the world"(John 1.9). In this model of spirituality, Newell conveys that redemption is about freeing what he calls an original goodness or sacredness within us from all that harms or inhibits us. (Newell, pp 2, 13)

Wow! After reading Schut’s three books I prepared an outline for him about how supporting children’s attitudes and actions in social justice and creation care could help optimize children’s spiritual and total development; ideas perhaps for the next in his series of anthologies and study guides. He’s very supportive and asked, “Who is going to write this?” Gulp, I’ve never written a book before!

But the tugging at my heart continues. So I bought used books across the themes, and have a computer full of ideas and resources. We’re sharing this process with clergy, our Simpler Living group, Christine D’ Amico and children’s programming. The project is emerging interactively; and so book study participants will borrow the books, and we’ll dialogue and document the themes face-to-face and online. Revs. Scott and Allisyn are very supportive and gratefully Carolyn Lief is assisting; so this action in eco-justice with and for children and families makes the project real.

An excerpt from Thomas Merton’s prayer speaks to the moment: My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Please come join this hopeful endeavor - Grace van Thillo

1. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (New York: Crossroads Publishing, 1994), 134-135

Grace van Thillo


Mandy said...

Grace, I cannot imagine a more joyful heart, inquisitive and gifted mind, and beautiful spirit to embark on this journey of learning. I look forward to following as I can, and though I may miss some details as I chase after little Avalon, I am sure that your quest will inform the way we raise and nurture her vibrant life, love for others, and appreciation for this planet and all of creation. Though not directly relevant, a statement on parenting that I love by Kahlil Gibran: "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

Grace said...

Thank you, Mandy for the inspirational quote about parenting as expressed by Kahlil Gibran. We "bows" do share an awesome opportunity to listen with our hearts to the "archer" to observe and support children's pathways, with bows that are flexible and stable with gratitude.

Hopefully between wonder time with Avalon, the sharing can continue - Grace