Summer Seminary Graduate Sofia Avery-Kapulski is so cool she lives in a yurt with a wood-burning stove. She’s decorated the walls with a painting of the cosmos. She’s an excellent writer and performer. In an interview with her, we discussed how she makes meaning in her life.–Ed.
SA-K: It was right after my first QUUest camp, I was having an existential meltdown. I thought, “How am I supposed to do something meaningful with my skills and passions? All I do is write, make music and stew about everything.” I’d been thinking that my preferred past times doomed me to a life of general disenfranchised hermit-ness and a destructive distaste for humanity.
It dawned on me that my obsessions with peeling everything down to its most essential definitions didn’t have to be a negative thing. The UU community had saved me at that point. I’d met people that loved me for doing that whole peeling and dissecting thing and I thought, “what if I did that for a living, except in a more reverent way? And I thought, aw! Ministry, that makes sense!”
JD-H: So it came from a moment of feeling that with the gifts that you had to inspect reality, you could go down a path that was totally misanthropic or you could go down a road that was reverent?
SA-K: Yes, exactly.
JD-H: Tell me more about the existential crisis?
SA-K: Existential meltdowns happen to me fairly frequently, partially because I don’t believe in god or a soul or faith, so my life is only as meaningful as I make it. If I’m sitting here getting angry about everything and everyone, therein goes my life. There goes me being responsible for making my life meaningful and not doing it.
SA-K: I was especially interested in chaplaincy and interfaith ministry because while I was there I became more certain about the need to make every space a sacred one. [I’d like] to help people stop hating each other and their circumstances and to understand how their spirituality plays into their lives.
JD-H: What sort of bonds or connections did you make at Summer Seminary with your peers/colleagues and with teachers?
SA-K: I was impressed by the caliber of the other youth at seminary. It was incredible to see all those people my age have beautiful words and ideas and have so much ease in exploring those visions. On the night when we had our sharing circle I heard more honesty and humility than I have ever heard before or since.
We came together and talked about life and our own issues, our deepest problems, the hardest things in our lives. It was cool to see normal people, including staff, with their own passions and problems successfully fulfilling a ministry. It made it seem more accessible.
JD-H: Let’s say our future selves hop in a time machine and come back to give us some wisdom. What do you think future Sofia would tell you about going into the ministry?
SA-K: She’d probably tell me wherever I landed; I’d end up ministering anyway, even if unintentionally. She’d probably say it was a good thing I decided not to be a full on minister at a church because future Sofia would ideally remind me that social justice work and religious education and youth advising is just as much a ministry as [parish ministry] is.
Now Watch Sofia Spread Euphoria
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Sofia Avery-Kapulski is a senior in highschool. She is also an aspiring composer and teacher/perpetual academic, even if it means she'll live in a shipping container. She currently lives in a yurt in the desert with her family and her dog, Zak.