“Follow your dream—you can do it!” That is the encouragement often offered to children, to youth and to adults in our lives. It is an encouragement to be bold, to pursue their dreams and to persist through difficulties.
But what is that dream? What is a life worth living?
Spiritual communities live with this question, and open it up. Spiritual communities explore and celebrate the good, lament what is broken, pray and offer service to repair the world—or the part we can do something about.
It’s well known that participation in all kinds of spiritual communities is declining. There are many reasons for this. Yet in some communities all ages remain active, though in smaller numbers than pre-pandemic.
Healthy spiritual communities have always been a place where people are known and loved for who they are, not how well they perform. It is in such communities that youth have the developmental asset of non-relative adults who know and appreciate them. This allows them to inhabit the great stories of faith and work through their own thoughts, experiences and decisions.
Families can and do teach compassion, forgiveness, patience and care; and faith communities support each person in the family, and those who live alone, in caring ways. Faith communities hold our lives in relationship to a great story and set of practices that build meaning and purpose, resilience and hope in our lives.
The faiths are not all the same. I’m a founding part of the Interfaith Community of South County and the Interfaith Clergy Association. What I can say is that each tradition has practices that strengthen the soul for life. God, one may say, speaks many languages.
For me, the point is to connect with the divine and others in ways that build up justice and peace on this planet, and to go deeply enough in a tradition to be able to live it. Most of us remain a bit frayed and need to break out of isolation and receive grace for these times in which we are living.
So, if you haven’t returned to your faith community since the Covid pandemic began, here’s your invitation to do so, whether virtually, or, if you can, in person. Or, if you have not participated in a community of faith for a long time, or ever, I invite you to explore this part of yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised. And in prayer and worship, learning and service in community, you may discover or be supported in dreams worthy of our humanity.
Rev. Anita R. Warner is Pastor of Advent Lutheran Church of Morgan Hill and an active participant in the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. For further information about Advent Lutheran Church, contact [email protected].