I’m currently competing with myself to see how many days I can go without grocery shopping. I’ve used food that has worked its way to the back of the pantry, previously hidden and overlooked. Reduced trips to my local co-op have helped me take stock of what’s already in my kitchen. Limited grocery shopping is just one of many changes that have dramatically increased the amount of time that I spend in my home. In turn, the challenges and gifts of staying at home have increased my understanding of the reason for the monastic vow of stability.
Dear graduating seniors,
Finally, high school is over and you are FREE!!! Congratulations! Eat some cake. Now, get excited because college is just around the corner!
If you’re anything like I was, you can’t wait to get to college. People told me my college days would be some of the best of my life. It was true! What I didn’t expect, though, was how my faith would change while I was there. For the first time in my life, my parents weren’t blasting me out of bed for church on Sunday, my youth minister wasn’t there to make sense of things, and my best friends weren’t sitting in the pews behind me. It was all up to me.
During a recent conversation with an acquaintance of mine, I found myself striving at all costs to evangelize via information. This person recently shared that they were interested in exploring multiple denominations of Christianity, curious to seek out the Truth after only ever knowing one particular theology. After a few discussions, I learned that this individual was holding a certain belief about God that I personally thought fell short. In turn, getting excited about the potential of their conversion and feeling a responsibility to instruct, I combated my friend’s theological idea with numerous scriptural references. This approach, unfortunately, did not produce the results I had hoped for. Instead, I fell right into a trap known as the “righting reflex”—a trap that I, as a counselor, have been trained to avoid.
Summers meant catching fireflies against the background of the Great Smoky Mountains. The mountains were as green as could be, producing the sweetest of smells that permeated our little town of Maryville. We’d play Hide and Go Seek until the last light fell across the foothills of the Smokies.
The nature of the COVID-19 outbreak presents parishes with a very new challenge. People cannot leave their homes, but most people are still able to do things, just only in their homes. Thus, for now, ministry must occur primarily in the digital sphere. As an Echo student, I live with church ministers and work at a parish. I know firsthand that transitioning ministry online is hard, and, honestly a little weird. But even in the past three weeks, it’s clear that making the transition is far from impossible, and it can actually be quite beautiful. Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. One of the implications of this truth is that humanity, sufficiently open to God’s grace, is creative—and with a virtually brand-new ballgame of ministry, a lot of creativity must be had, so I hope to offer a few ideas here that parishes can implement to digitally engage their parishioners, as well as provide a good bit of hope.