Some of the programming at Summer Seminary 2014 was structured, like our time spent at Meadville Lombard Theological School learning about discerning the call, theology, faith formation, UU history and preaching. Some of the programming was designed for open dialogue, so students could pick the brains of music directors, ministers, religious educators and UUA staff members. And some of the time was left open, so that what needed to emerge in the moment, could. Here's Steven's account of how the students decided to take it deeper. -Ed.
The knowledge of Summer Seminary's impact on the incredible youth and young adults should be wide spread and thought of deeply within our communities at home.
While writing this, I wept. I began to remember.
I read some notes we had written for each other to take home as a reminder of the spirit within and of our common calling.
In the past I have taken part in an activity called a "RAP" which is when people gather in a round and deeply discuss in a flow of conversation and feeling.
There was a point at Summer Seminary when the group realized that bonding had been rushed. We needed more connection in order to progress in our time together. I was asked to facilitate a RAP. The sacred space.
Beforehand issues of identification, deeper discomfort, and assumptions were harder to discuss. There was unease. We were there for our highest call. I wanted to be more comfortable. I believe we all did. We wanted to understand that was this was a supportive family in which to explore the unknown.
We gave ourselves grace.
I found sense of welcome. We affirmed this reality and we shared our feeling , especially in silence.
Some parts of the notes I received are:
"You put your entire being into things."
"I figured out why your eyes are beautiful."
"You are light and love."
These are words which held conversation and experience behind them even back to early childhood. Words which I had not been told often and very rarely let myself hear. Words not only written but spoken and understood by these friends. Summer Seminary gave this freedom. It has also affected me deeply back home in Tucson, AZ. These experiences are not exclusive to this event. My calling has been reaffirmed and given dimension I had not seen before. Thanks to people that surround me with love.
We each have a calling. Sometimes we confuse it with what we are told or sometimes enjoy. Yet, we mustn't forget to open our eyes to those around us and take moments of grace. When we open our eyes, we open our hearts. We feel Called. Eventually we understand that our lives become enriched as we open our doors and let down our shields.
My personal realization is that sometimes the pain in my heart is how I ignite the flame for light in yours which leads to our happiness.
To the Chalice we know exists, as we hold the Flame. Blessed Be.
Watch Steven Ballesteros Call Upon Us All to Come Forth[vimeo 108277163 600px wide 600px height]
Steven Ballesteros is an 18 year old college student from Tucson, AZ. Steven has spent much of his teenage years involved in lay leadership in his home congregation, the Pacific South West District, and as a member of various other group including the UUA Youth Ministry Advisory Committee, a General Assembly worship, and Unitarian Universalist camps and youth conferences. Steven is also an actor, chaplain, and freelance artist.