Sunday, March 20, 2011

Allergic to Cuddle Puddles


What helps our community nurture the spiritual development of our youth?

Do our community activities provide space for different young People to grow on their own spiritual paths.

Does RantWoman even have any business commenting since she is not a parent and only very occasionally visibly an Auntie around her Meeting?

RantWoman finds herself in a paradox: in a few short months RantWoman will pass the half-century mark. Despite an utter lack of grounding in educational practices, RantWoman finds herself lately meditating about many questions of Quaker upbringing, religious education for Quaker youth, young people's experience of Quakerism, transmission of Quaker traditions, and absorption of newcomers into the Society of Friends.

At the same time RantWoman has more than once recently found herself nearly if not definitely the youngest person in the room and strongly led to elder her elders. RantWoman will spare her readers the details of this occasion. RantWoman is not sure how she feels about these seemingly contradictory pulls but is to be true to the Light she is given.

One such recent occasion where RantWoman was nearly the youngest person in the room: Sarah Hoggatt, part of the editorial team for Spirit Rising, the book by young adult Friends from around the world, conducted a recent Adult Discussion Hour. The discussion was part narrative about the work of producing the book, part reading, and part Question and Answer. RantWoman quite enjoyed Sarah's presentation; alas RantWoman currently has a leading not to purchase Quaker materials unless they come in a format she can interact directly with and RantWoman did not buy the book. If RantWoman decides to have someone read it to her, likely there is a copy in the Meeting library.

RantWoman is substantially older than Sarah Hoggatt but except for one person RantWoman is not sure of, RantWoman was the youngest person BESIDES Sarah.

The subject of "cuddle puddles" came up. Apparently one of the hundreds of pieces submitted was an item about how to do a cuddle puddle, basically the teeming, touchy-feely mass of youth leaning against each other on the floor that occurs during many gatherings of Quaker youth. Sarah was not raised Quaker; the idea of a cuddle puddle was as foreign to her as it was to RantWoman when RantWoman came to Quakers. Sarah also said she had recent experience and really liked the experience.

To be honest, cuddle puddles are one of the things that make RantWoman glad she was NOT raised Quaker. Even at her most perky, RantWoman did not even do very well at slumber parties. RantWoman tended to, well, slumber. Besides, the thought of doing a cuddle puddle with the fine specimens of both male and female adolescent awkwardness RantWoman worshipped with during junior high and high school has an astronomical "ewwwwww" factor: RantWoman considers it a complete act of Divine mercy that everyone was way too stiff even to consider the cuddle puddle concept.

RantWoman does not even necessarily lament a comparative dearth of campfire cuddle experiences at church camp. RantWoman in fact only ever attended church camp once: she was drafted at the last minute as a counselor for a cabin full of homesick 10-year-olds who spent their whole week fretting about the remote possibility of being eaten by bears on the way to the restroom at night. RantWoman is no expert about bears, but the cabin was far enough into the middle of a well-populated camp that RantWoman is pretty sure, for better or worse, the bears would have been afraid to come near.

RantWoman came to the Baptists of her youth at a point when cliques were already well-formed. The nicest girl RantWoman's age never came to Sunday School and RantWoman found the other two most frequent girl attenders, well, tiresome. RantWoman found herself VERY grateful for a couple adults who observed the other girls being, um, tiresome and reached out directly to RantWoman. RantWoman's spiritual development definitely needed stiffer stuff than cuddle puddles!

But back to Spirit Rising: RantWoman's favorite inquiry, from Really Good Questions Friend, was "but what unites all these people in spite of all these different practices and traditions?" RantWoman does not remember what Sara H responded. RantWoman thinks it might be sufficient to say "Well, someone, somewhere, somehow has called or heard them call themselves Quaker AND they committed to dialogue together on that basis."

Meanwhile, for further heresy on the Quaker child-rearing front:

The Quaker Ranter's kid gets baptized

Why the Quaker Ranter's kid is getting baptized
(read the comments too)

Quakers and aging: topical but may or may not speak to younger Friends:

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