So, in spite of this apparent inactivity, a lot has actually been happening! First, take a look at the photo - I discovered a new artist whose work really inspires me - John August Swanson. His paintings and mosaics are full of life and soul and color. Many have biblical themes, some have circus themes - all tell life stories. I love the Ecclesiastes verses that Swanson illustrates in this work - and am tickled that he also includes other symbols of cycles and times - notice zodiac figures at the top?
Second, I have the privilege of teaching a new class this semester - Religion and Spirituality in Counseling - in which our counseling psychology students and I work together to figure out what religion and spirituality mean to us first of all, and to clients second of all. We talk about what it might be like to be grounded in one's own faith tradition - of Christianity or Judaism or Atheism or Pantheism - and then to encounter and hope to help someone from a markedly different and often unfamiliar tradition. My students are smart and brave and wise and funny. They have shared such touching stories of their own experiences - some have been hilarious, some heart-breaking, some poignant - and have been so insightful about how their own experiences might affect their ability to be open and welcoming with clients coming in with different stories.
This week, a student brought in this PA House Resolution No. 535, of January 21, 2012, in which the House of Representatives resolves that 2012 is the "Year of the Bible" in Pennsylvania. Needless to say, there was quite a lively response to the news. Some discussion emerged that this raises questions about separation of church and state, and that lawmakers might need to be more aware that many of their constituents may not be Christian - how might they respond to the resolution? What might they feel? Would they feel welcomed or included or visible? A couple of people felt honored by the resolution. Interestingly, some of the most religious (Christian) of our students were the most vociferous objectors to the resolution.
It is often a challenge for me, as the instructor, to maintain a semblance of neutrality - I am (you may not be surprised to hear) not always successful in this effort. But I do try to temper any of my own perspectives with an acknowledgement that they are one of many views, and with open invitations to hear from others. I love, love, love the students and this opportunity to swim with them through these waters. I would like to gather them together again five years from now to hear where they are - how life and work with people in pain have shaped them - their beliefs, wishes, and dreams.
Last but not least, I have been writing, and learned recently that an article has been accepted for publication in Ecopsychology, a peer-reviewed journal about, well, about ecopsychology! It should be out in a couple of months - a big step for me.
Lying fallow, but still learning.
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.