October 2015, Theme: Real?

Written by Kristina Alvarado
October 12, 2015

Join us this 2015-2016 academic year, as we take time each month to reflect on a theme as a learning community. Hear from faculty and staff in a personal reflection on the theme, as they consider how the concept applies to their life and work. See here for an overview of these themes, which will also be highlighted in each month's school e-newsletter.

The theme for our school community this October 2015 is "Real?."?We?re on the hunt for what is real. What smells, looks and tastes authentic? What is real?

Download (& save or print!) a PDF of this October calendar, OCTOBER-REAL-CALENDAR.

Dr. Colette Casavant has written this month's personal reflection--speaking from from the heart about how she has considered the theme. Colette is not only one of the staff members that works closely with current and future students, but she is both an alum of the school?s MA in Pastoral Studies and Seattle University?s Doctor of Educational Leadership program.?

Personal Reflection on the Theme, ?Real??


By Colette Casavant, MAPS, EdD

What is ?real?? (And why does this question matter?) I am ?Gen X.? By definition, Generation X-ers have a lot in common when it comes to questioning. I recognize that I, like many Gen X-ers, revel in definitions that are unanswerable, post-modern questions?namely loving the stuff of life that is ambiguous, experience-driven, and contextual.?

I am also the mother of a 5-year-old son, who barrages me with questions multiple times a day, hour, and minute. Questions like: ?Mommy, how do engines work?? ?Mommy, what is exhaust?? ?Mommy, why do I have to go to school?? ?Mommy, when will I have all my teeth?? ?Mommy where was I when you and Daddy met?? And yet, interestingly, he has not once asked me, ?Mommy, what does ?love? mean?? (Though we say ?love??like ?I love you!--of the time.) I wonder if maybe he doesn?t need to ask what ?love? means, because he KNOWS it and it is REAL.?

?For me, the ?REAL? is my relationship with my son. It cannot be denied, questioned, or contradicted. Real is our love, our connection, and our common/ never-ending curiosity of each other. Our relationship is real, just like other relationships I witness between people all around me. For better or worse, each relationship holds unexplained dimensions, complexities, emotions, and nuances. Relationships simply are real. My relationship with my son, partner, family, and my community are real.

My son will not allow any of my answers to his questions to be ambiguous, contextual or experience-driven. ?This beautiful, love-filled, audacious, and curious person demands concrete and linear answers. His questions press me to deeply consider simple, common, and every-day concepts?coercing them into concise and tangible definitions. I have personally been in higher education for nothing short of 15 years. So, I can tell you from personal experience, that the search for what is real (actions, things, people) and reality (the whole picture) is something that we devote a LOT of time to?especially in graduate school. Like my son, we are looking for a guiding light of some substance to help us navigate our world and fuel our care for others.?

In our context of theology, leadership, therapy, and spirituality, ?I believe the ?what is real?? question demands for us to truly consider all of our perspectives in the context of others?in community AND alone. Who am I, really? Who are we together? What is the reality we experience, individually and collectively? What are we really working toward? What?s really going on? Questions about ?real? faith, spirituality, leadership, and meaning-making draw us into questions of our deepest selves and the heart of what it looks like to truly be together in community?in real relationship with each other.

Yes, I am not sure my son would allow this definition ? if he were ever to ask me ?what is real??. But, I have a hunch, like the question of ?love,? he won?t ask it. He?s in touch with what is real every day. ?So are we.?