Teilhard de Chardin “You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.”
We have tried everything. We have changed the way we worship, study, pray. Our events and outreach efforts keep evolving. And we reflect every time we meet.
A long time ago we discovered that we forget why something was important unless we mark it. Too many things happen in our meetings and trips. It becomes a blur and an abstraction. The significance disappears.
How does it work? We try different questions. It’s always simple.
Our most common format has been reported on in many blogs. “What do you remember? What were your ups and downs? What do you think God wants you to learn from it?”
In a nutshell, we try to keep factual, we ponder our emotional overlays and we try to pinpoint what is significant about it. There are many ways to ask the questions. It seems to help when we progress through different levels of questions. Everyone can answer the first one. We all push ourselves to respond the the last one.
One time we talked about what we did in skid row and how sad and horrified we were at what we saw. I remember when one youth answered the last question “God wants me to be thankful for what I have and stop whining.”
Without this kind of reflection, we seem to gloss over the impact.
At a recent meeting with the younger kids, one of the youth leaders reports.“We had a real messed up time. One of the youth stole a gameboy from one of the other youth and hid it in his backpack. We started with a sacred circle and had a sage blessing. We put the eagle feather in a chair in the middle. We started by asking what had happened. We had to get through some posturing and lies. Finally we got to the hurt of a friend stealing from us and we talked about the betrayal and anger and hurt. The gameboy was returned and a man hug and apology followed. It was hard to get responses for the last question. Finally one of the kids said ‘I think that God wants us to remember that we can start over again.’ With that we became a group again, ready to move forward. The questions really help even though sometimes the answers are dumb.”
I don’t know why it works but our ability to reflect on something keeps stuff from festering and cements the event in our memory. The reflection somehow reframes the event into a story worth remembering.
It is a holy practice when we take the time to go beyond what has happened to us and stretch ourselves to learn from it.