A few events in the past weeks has me asking: “If I had to choose just a few things to bring with me into the future, what would they be?”
At the beginning of June we visited our good friends in North Carolina. They have actually put this question into practice in their lives. When they moved from Kodiak Island, Alaska to the contiguous states, they packed everything they owned into one small shipping container. Everything else (including and for them most obviously their beloved Subaru Outback) was either sold or given away. I’ve always honored the way they live a non-materialistic life and are able to say good-bye to their things.
In researching Tom Miya’s life for officiating his memorial service I learned that when his family and he were placed in a California Internment Camp in 1942 they had one suitcase each to bring with them. The rest of their things needed to be stored (and hopefully not stolen) or sold for pennies on the dollar before they went. They had two weeks to make these decisions.
At our recent session retreat the elders were guided in an exercise by this statement:
“Most real change is not about change. It’s about identifying what cultural DNA is worth conserving, is precious and essential, and that indeed makes it worth suffering the losses so that you can find a way to bring the best of your tradition and history and values into the future.” Ronald Heifetz
Another way I would put this would be that change is less about starting something brand new, and more about brushing away (giving away) non-essential stuff to get to the core of cultural, essential, and cherished values.
I asked our elders to name pieces of FSPC’s “cultural DNA” or pieces of tradition, history, and values they would carry with them into the future no matter the cost. Their list included:
-A welcoming Spirit, a feeling of community, Family gathering & reconnecting, the high value children have, diversity, being prayerful and reflective in adversity, a flexibility through the years, an openness to new things and Spiritual growth, the high value of music in worship, and persistence.
Now, if I were packing up a church-life suitcase to bring with me into the future, these are definitely items I would include! I invite you to think of your own core and essential items of church that you would bring with you—no matter the cost.