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Racine, WI 53405

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The Journey Begins

(This message was given for the completion of our youth Quest program.)

There are three things pieces of advice about the spiritual journey I'd like to impart to those of you who have completed Quest, but also to everyone else.

1 - Keep taking the road less traveled.

In the infamous words of Robert Frost, you’ve "taken the road less traveled and it has made all the difference.” My guess is that, even into adulthood, you’ll not find many folks who have been to a Hindu temple or a Jewish synagogue, walked a labyrinth, learned meditation or tried art as spirituality.. It is my hope that having stretched your minds and broadened your experiences will make all the difference in your continuing spiritual journey.

Celebrations like these tend to look like graduations. A chance to say “Yea! I’ve finished!” These days we celebrate graduations from kindergarten and grade school, and 8th grade, high school and college. We cross over from brownies to girl scouts, from cub scouts to boy scouts. Everyone wants to finish and celebrate being done. But, despite the completion of Quest, the spiritual journey is one that continues for the rest of our lives. We can choose to engage it or not, but engaging it I believe makes for a life that is more full of light, grace and gratitude.

2 - Stay curious – don’t ever be afraid to ask the questions!

There’s an old joke about a man talking to his rabbi. He asks, “Why is it that rabbis always answer a question with another question?” The rabbi answered, “So, what’s wrong with a question?” 

You may not realize it, but you’ve been given a great gift… parents who encourage you to question religion, God, the Bible, faith, all of it.  If you ever get to the point of thinking you have all the answers, then your faith is too small. So, stay curious!

I read an article entitled "The Power of Curiosity" that stated that

Curiosity, at its core, is all about noticing and being drawn to things we find interesting. It’s about recognizing and seizing the pleasures that novel experiences offer us, and finding novelty and meaning even in experiences that are familiar. When we are curious, we see things differently; we use our powers of observation more fully. We sense what is happening in the present moment, taking note of what is, regardless of what it looked like before or what we might have expected it to be. We feel alive and engaged, more capable of embracing opportunities, making connections, and experiencing moments of insight and meaning — all of which provide the foundation for a rich, aware and satisfying life experience.”

Studies show that people who are curious have more meaningful relationships, live longer, find more meaning in life and are happier.

One way to become more curious is to intentionally challenge our expectations, striving to set aside judgement and pre-conceived notions. 

That same article I mentioned above talked about a recent study in which researchers asked people to do something they reported disliking and pay attention to three novel features when they did it. This small exercise altered the way they viewed and felt about the activity. For example, an 18-year-old male bodybuilder who scoffed at crocheting spent 90 minutes practicing the task. The three novel discoveries he reported were 1) how demanding the process of making small stitches could be (he hadn’t anticipated that this “easy” task would tire him); 2) that it could be meditative (“time flew by”); and 3) that the crochet stitches could be tight enough to create flip-flop sandals (which was the project he worked on). 

To be more specific, I encourage you to stay curious about God. Continue to seek out new experiences, ask questions of people who are from different religious backgrounds, go on pilgrimages, try new spiritual experiences. Continue to expand your mind and your understanding of the Divine.

3 - Remember that God is with you wherever you go.

In the Exodus story, the Israelites risked everything they’d ever known to leave slavery in Egypt, and found themselves wandering in the wilderness, taking the path less traveled. They don’t know exactly where they are going, they don’t know how they are going to survive until they get there, and they’re not quite sure about that Moses guy, but they know without a doubt that God is there with them. God leads them by day as a pillar of cloud and by night as a pillar of fire.

I will grant you that it had to be easier to trust God when you could see the manifestation of God. I haven't seen any pillars of clouds or fire anytime lately, but what we get from this story is the reassurance that God is with us. Always. No matter what. Especially on that road less traveled.

Whether you are in the midst of good times or bad – God is there.

Whether you are in a church or a soccer field or on the street – God is there.

Whether you’ve been kind and helpful or not – God is with you.

Be aware. Watch for the coincidences and the nudges. Pay attention to your intuition. Don’t just pray, but listen. 

 

These are the ways of the Quest…take the road less traveled, be curious, and remember that God is with you  -  know them and live them.

Love & Light!

Kaye