by Scott Webster, Living With Purpose Fellow-
Caroline and I were scheduled to lead the next workshop day together; it was the first time us fellows were leading this daylong event. We met, tossed some ideas around, and decided that because we were starting to look towards next year, we would focus the workshop around discernment and looking towards the future. This came with many challenges. As Pete pointed out, not everyone knows where they are headed, so the discernment process is different in those people’s eyes. This was something Caroline had not thought about when we created the workshop, but it is very accurate. Also, that discernment is not solely about a career path, but that we are in a constant state of discernment. We also decided to have a second theme of social justice to tie into other things we had discussed the previous weeks. The social justice issue we wanted to talk about was parks within cities; what people you normally see there, where they are located, and the advantages/disadvantages of having a park system in a city. So with our themes in place, Caroline and I had to put structure around it.
The morning started out with a walk over to Trinity to help Loaves and Fishes make sandwiches for their trip to the mission; and to make some for our own lunch. For those who don’t know, Mobile Loaves is a mobile food pantry that helps those who cannot afford a meal or aren’t able to get a healthy food option. Caroline and I thought it would be a good idea for all of us to help in preparing the sandwiches because it is good for all of us to support one another in our placements. After everything was made and put back, we planned on going to the chapel for Morning Prayer. Unfortunately, the chapel was still in use by the time we were done. Caroline, with her quick thinking, posed the question to the group about how they felt about feeding 84 people that day who normally wouldn’t get a meal. This was a powerful question and made us all think. Most of us didn’t even think about the amount of sandwiches that were made. Also it wasn’t that long to make that many sandwiches; so it would be easy to make hundreds of sandwiches in a couple hours. By the time we went around the table discussing that question, the chapel became empty and we moved over for Morning Prayer. I thought Morning Prayer would be a good way for all us to get mentally ready for what would be going on later in the workshop. I led the service and everything went smoothly. Our plan after the service was to go to Audubon Park; to the tree of life. Only a few of the fellows had seen this giant Oak, so it seemed like an ideal place to have a deep discussion about discernment. The reasoning behind talking at the tree was that the tree is deeply rooted and constantly growing, though it isn’t sure where it is moving all the time. In this way, the tree is discerning just as we are in our everyday lives. Conveniently right next to the tree is a labyrinth. Caroline decided that we would have a brief talk about where we all see ourselves in the discernment process and journal about it under the tree; then, after lunch, we would walk the labyrinth to think more deeply on the subject. So everyone went to different parts of the park around the tree of life and labyrinth. Everything was going as planned, but then the one thing we didn’t account for and couldn’t control happened. While finishing lunch under the mighty Oak, the sky opened up and dropped cold pellets of rain onto the ground. Caroline and I hoped it would just pass, but after 5 minutes we all walked to our cars and sat in them; Caroline and I did not know what to do. After 10 minutes of rain, we decided the best course of action was to go home and regroup from there. But before we left, Caroline, with her quick thinking once again, proposed we watch a movie that could tie into the second theme of our workshop which was social justice. Our first choice was “Crash”, but it wasn’t on Netflix, so Sam suggested “For the Bible Tells me so”. Neither of these choices really followed what we wanted to discuss for the social justice theme, but either movie was going to be powerful and could open up a good talk afterwards. This documentary talks about homosexuality within church communities and how different people react to it. It was an excellent choice and a powerful film; no one really spoke after what was witnessed on screen. Throughout the movie, groups that share negative viewpoints on the topic were highlighted. This can be an eye opening thing to witness. I personally can’t believe some people are so rooted into certain beliefs that they will never even attempt to let the other viewpoint be expressed. To end the day we hugged it out. We end a lot of things by hugging it out; it is a way for us to express our love for one another and the harmony within the group.
When we got the end of the movie, and hugged it out, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Having to plan out a workshop, and have things flow smoothly, was not easy. Overall, having that experience let me know just how difficult it is to create a new curriculum for each workshop we have, and how strong you have to be as a leader when things don’t go your way. I also learned that having a backup plan can be crucial, and the more you plan ahead, the more time you have to dissect what will be discussed to make the experience more rich.