What do you imagine being able to achieve in 100 days? At the start of the year, did you have any plans for what you might set out to accomplish in such a time-frame?
You may have noticed that, in the present political climate, the first 100 days is apparently an important, if arbitrary, marker. One is meant to be able to determine a great deal from those first 3 and a bit months in office as well as get a sense of what one can expect into the future.
Well, our first 100 days together has been an amazing time for us – it is hard to believe we have packed so much into such a short time. Here’s a sample of what we’ve been up do
One of our first milestones was to figure out how we wanted to be together as the NEXT community of 2017. While some programs have a code of conduct or a behavioural contract, we take a different route. We develop a group covenant that is written by us. We started with a blank page and after a number of hours of conversation and discernment spread over a couple of weeks we agreed on 26 lines and 317 words. By thumb printing and signing our name, we committed to ‘Speaking and listening to each other respectfully towards mutual understanding’, ‘Owning my lies, faults and truths with bravery’ and ‘Taking responsibility for my choices and their consequences’ amongst many other things.
Each morning has commenced in a spiritual practice where we have shared our significant moments, spiritual awakenings, found our voices together, as well as become acquainted with silence and becoming attentive to the present moment. As we walk up the stairs, take off our shoes and enter the sacred space, it is a morning ritual which has provided an anchoring centre and spiritual connection to our lives.
A significant part of our time together in facilitated small groups has been unpacking our life stories. This is not only a sacred experience of sharing our stories and being heard but also processing the many events, experiences and relationships that have made up our life story in order to unpack their meaning and significance.
Early on we hopped on a tram to visit our friends at a Jewish Synagogue. SO MUCH FUN. We went there because our two religions share a common heritage and we wanted to find out some more about that, and how the Jewish faith has transitioned into the (post) modern age.
In Theology class, we have commenced identifying, testing and ordering our theological universe of ideas. We’ve discovered that the Christian tradition has some lovely and powerful terminology that describes unique truths in ways that no other words can – and so we have committed to memory more than 60 of these technical theological terms and definitions. We are concluding these 100 days by attempting to describe our world and ourselves theologically – grappling with what it means to be 100% physical and 100% spiritual, to be one in who God is pleased to dwell, to consider where the presence of an infinite God might be when at times S/He feels so far away.
We’ve also been wrestling with the ancient sacred text of the Bible and focusing our energies on learning how to read and interpret it for ourselves. We’ve been focusing on something called the inductive method of interpretation which means you don’t need to be a super academic nerd to interpret scripture, but it does mean that we can still be careful to consider the context, contract and content of scripture, and even look up specific words in the original language.
Seeking to unpack the unique way we are wired to connect with God has also been a major feature of our 100 days. We have approached this a variety of ways – by uncovering the various images of God we hold (accurate and inaccurate), discovering the way our prayer life is influenced by our personality style, understanding our light and shadow sides through the enneagram and most recently by considering natural forms of spiritual expression through the sacred pathways.
And of course, that ain’t the half of it.
Students have undertaken electives in creativity, justice and reflective practice. We have explored human sexuality where each student has begun to form their own sexual ethic. We have invited a specialist in addiction to teach us about negative coping mechanisms and what to do when our patterns of behaviour become unhealthy. We’ve spent time in places of worship as well as been confronted by the sexualisation of our urban spaces. We’ve been uncovering the way our identity has been shaped by others and reading subversive texts together and …
And then we went (proper) dancing together …
And … well … its been a big 100 days. And we can’t wait for the next 100!
What are you looking for in 2018?
Because we focus on the big questions of life, big things happen at NEXT.
Faith, identity, friendship are what we talk about, explore and discover – all wrapped up in accredited Diploma study with Fee-Help available.
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