I'm working on transformation. You know, transformation. When you fix stuff. Or evolve. Or you know-- transform.
The work that I do as a Religious Educator is so good for me, and so fulfilling and so rich with life. But as I'm writing my yearly report for the annual meeting, I'm realizing that this year has been a transformation of sorts. I think when you go into year five of a stint as a Religious Educator that it's often a transformation. I've seen a number of Religious Educators be transformed right out of a job at year five! So, yes, it's a little scary. But not really. I love my congregation (hi y'all!) and I love the kids--LOVE the kids. When you get to be the person a two-year-old will sit with at the pledge drive dinner while she eats her cupcake, and then get her on your lap for the Story for All Ages the next morning? Well, what's not to love there? It's all good. I think we've still got a good love fest going in my congregation.
But looking back over the year and looking at our goals from last year and the years before, evaluating our growth, looking at the changes we've made I realize that in some good ways I've kind of given up. For a long time I really wanted everyone to see what I saw; that bringing children to religious education classes on a regular basis could literally change their lives. It could. They would learn things and grow friendships with adults and children and become a part of their church in ways that coming once or twice a month will never, ever allow. This year I gave my heart and my soul and a ton of my time to sharing that message. And people really got it, they did.
It does not matter. Families may understand how valuable church can be. They can believe it. They can commit to coming as much as cold and flu season will allow. And still, life doesn't let them come. It hardly lets them participate in church life with any level of commitment. The family with a parent in a major role at our church is rare and usually fleeting. Family life is crushingly busy. There is no time for quiet or peace. Sometimes families need to just skip church to have a moment to breathe together. They need time to play and read and just be. Together.
So, for next year I guess we'll just work at being the very best drop-in program we can possibly be. I'll accept it. I may have to mourn a little. Things could be different, but I'm not sure they ever WILL be different. Parents and children have so many things pulling on their time that they sometimes just have to say no, and saying no to church is one of the easiest. There's no game, no RSVP, no starting line-up. And for us in the Unitarian Universalist church--as a fellow PNWD blogger notes, we're All Carrot and No Stick. There is nothing to scare folks into coming. Of course, I would never want that, really--never, but it is a little different than other mainstream churches. And families really need time together. It's just natural that church would be the thing to go for them.
I am revamping our whole plan for curriculum. There's no sense in crafting a big scheme that completes a long curriculum cycle. Almost no one is coming often enough to have it be meaningful. We'll keep it simple and try to keep the weekly class as consistent as possible, so the kids don't have to re-learn what to do and where to go in class if it's been a month since they've attended.
I'm sad, yes. I thought if people just understood they'd come more. They do understand. They try to come more often. Our lives just don't allow it. They just don't.
And with that transformation, I'm changing this little blog. I'll find some bright sunny pictures and keep playing with bright sunny colors and fonts and I'm looking into what it might take to move to wordpress and combine some of my wayward blogs and the pieces of my life. As my husband is preparing to be part of a panel discussion of the movie Adopted I'm reading KAD (Korean Adult-Adoptee) blogs like this amazing one called Harlow's Monkey and realizing that I just might find other spouses of adult adoptees who would understand the experience of being married to an adoptee. And people in recovery from compulsive food issues, maybe I should go there, too (at least I am in recovery today). I don't know. Lots of transformation.
So much transformation, I feel like I should be driving a TRANS am!. OK, bad joke with all the car stuff going on in this bad economy. Bad joke. But funny. At least, I'm laughing.
And hey, isn't that something after all? Laughing?
Yep, it is. For me anyway, it sure is.