Spiritual Pathways…“And How Are the Children?”

May is bursting with transformation, in flora and in fauna. I sure appreciate soaking in the buds and blooms, colors and light of this season. It is also a time in our congregation for celebrating rites of passage and honoring leaders. The Spiritual Pathways Team (aka Religious Education Committee) and I are reviewing curriculum, policies, practices, and support systems. We will devote resources for next year’s program that support multi-generational, innovative, and adult learning experiences as reflected in the 2019-20 budget proposal. The RE community will continue to use technology and communication tools, like Zoom video conferencing, to help busy volunteers navigate their service to children, youth, and adults. We are in the midst of gathering teams of adult guides for our young people, often called volunteer teachers. There are some spots still available. If you are interested in finding out more about an opportunity to learn with children and youth, contact me in the church office. And please let me know of your interest in helping to present more adult faith development opportunities. I am working with Rev Liz, Fred Jodry, and Marcia Taylor to create theme-based ministry with monthly experiences in worship and learning for all ages.

You are probably aware of the traditional Masai greeting, “And how are the children?” Other cultures, including people from my own Jewish heritage, often greet one another with that lead question. An essay by Rev. Patrick O’Neil reminded me that, through that expression, the Masai acknowledge the high value always placed on their children’s well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own would always give the traditional answer, “All the children are well.” Meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place, that Masai society has not forgotten its reason for being, its proper functions and responsibilities. “All the children are well” means that life is good, that the daily struggles for existence do not preclude proper caring for the young.

I wonder if every adult among us, parent and non-parent alike, feels an equal weight for the daily care and protection of all the children in our community, in our state, in our country, in our world, for all children everywhere.

My answer, as connected to our congregation of children and youth, is that they are well. That we are called to live into our covenant to support and challenge them and their families through a lifelong process of Unitarian Universalist faith development. I am on the ground, observing and guiding our youngest children through our campus ministry people. Whether it is a pre-K child voicing their understanding of meditation as “resting your mind and opening your heart” or our senior highers grappling with their strong opinions on current events, fears, and resolve, or our college-age members supporting one another as they prepare to move out of their schooling bubble, I feel hope!

But it is not enough. There is much to keep us on edge, fearful, angry and worn out, even in a privileged demographic. There is much action needed to dismantle systems and cultures of oppression, of which we are a part. I am deeply aware of urgent needs for change that should directly inform our lives now and moving forward. We must hold the needs of diverse people of all ages, races, genders, classes, sexual orientations, abilities, and other identities. I promise to keep asking the question, “And how are ALL children?” Please join me.

Take care. I look forward to being with you this spring,

Cathy Seggel, Director of Religious Education