My memory tells me it was the community organizer, Saul Alinsky, who asked: “Do you think your way to new ways of acting or act your way to new ways of thinking?”
On one hand the answer is “Yes.”
There are times when you think your way to new ways of acting.
But, more often than not, I think you act your way to new ways of thinking.
You suddenly find yourself, either by choice or by chance, in a new situation or circumstance which is so impactful that, when you step back from it or find your way through it, you discover you have to rethink how you understand your own life, the lives of others and/or the larger communities in which you live. Such moments are unsettling, at best, if not outright scary for they often challenge long held assumptions and force us to reexamine deeply held values and beliefs.
I find myself thinking about this because tomorrow morning a group of high school students who just returned from spending a week with me in Nicaragua building homes for six families will reflect on their experience. Their reflections will range from funny stories to poignant moments. Yet, all who went took the risk of stepping into a new situation and because of that given the opportunity to think about life and world and faith in new ways. Their neighborhoods became a bit bigger and their world became a bit smaller which is wonderful and challenging all at the same time.
As I think about it, on many levels, we are grappling with new experiences
Changing understanding of sexual identity.
Changing relationship to the global community.
Changing understanding of family.
And because of that long held assumptions are being challenged and deeply held values and beliefs are being called into question.
All of which is tremendously unsettling.
We are in the middle of the experience.
Our thinking/understanding is trying to catch up.