A young student dropped in to my office this morning. She is a Christian. She is thoughtful. And she is probably talented. She has left her church because it sucked her dry. And she is looking for Christian support while she is a student at Flinders.
This is not the first time I have listened to this story and felt the depth of that plea. I have heard it from staff as well as students. It is a yearning for spiritual nurture. Ultimately it is a search for a spiritual home.
These are people I hold in my heart.
In the afternoon, I visited a friend in hospital. He has just had major surgery for cancer. For the last ten years he has struggled to establish a Christian community that is non-judgemental, open to intellectual scrutiny and willing to engage in life’s big issues. I visited this little community last Sunday as an act of solidarity with them, and with him before he headed into hospital.
Earlier in the morning I had a breakfast conversation – the problems of addiction to religion, of the relationship of spirituality to self-esteem and of what might be called “existential community”. Like blood cells form a clot, these communities might be thought of as clumps. They form for a purpose, for meaning, and then dissolve; the constituents go on to clump with others to form a different clump for different meanings.
As we had coffee we wondered whether this is how “community” is these days, as compared to the more traditional, institutional conception of community, one which seems to demand increasing levels of inwardly directed energy to keep going.
As I reflect on the day, I wonder whether I am being called on to provide a still point at Flinders around which clumps might form – and dissolve and form and dissolve… A still point for that young Christian student. A point of connection, but not one that grasps. In the same spirit as that of my friend in hospital.
Late in the day I heard of a friend who is going through a hard time. I phoned her. With the day’s thoughts still turning in my mind, I asked her if she would like to connect to some kind of open-ended, spiritually-nurturing time at Flinders if I were to covene it. It would draw on the Christian tradition but also be open to other voices. “Yes, that would be wonderful!”
So now I am beginning to think how this might look.
I would like it to be a place for people to share without anyone dominating, for music and poetry as well as questions and rationality, for humour as well as thoughtfulness, for socialising as well as for silence. There might be candles lit for hopes and prayers, and signs for honouring each other…and flowers and good coffee!
So now I turn to my fellow travellers who receive my “Spirituality News”.
What do you think? Is this something that would interest you?
Watch this space!