I want to thank those that have contributed generously to help out the students.  We still have a long way to go in raising all the funds, but we have a good start and that’s what counts.  If you want to donate but haven’t, you still can; just go to the page “Contribute to Campus Pagans” for directions. I’ll be posting more on our progress as we go along. 

Because of the fundraising I have been doing a lot of “other” work and not necessarily writing, but this morning I was thinking back on the last few weeks and all that has gone on. Yesterday I sat with Father Linus, one of my two office mates, discussing a proposal we are preparing for the Universities Resident Advisor Mid-Winter conference.  In other words, we are looking to grab time to talk to the student RAs for all of the dorms.  These are the students that are “in charge” of a dorm floor, taking care of crisis’, helping with disputes, and generally acting as house mom for students usually younger than themselves.  As we talked our plan came together on what it is we wanted to let students know about faith, religion, the Chapel and the details that come with that.  Seems like a tall order, but after coming home I thought about what Linus and I were doing and began to see a simple pattern that has played out over the last couple of months.

Students that wouldn’t normally come to the Chapel are finding their way to our doors.  They come in and hang out and just want to talk.  Well, honestly some of them just want to see a friendly face and to feel included.  They stop by and say hello, shyly peeking their heads in and asking “are you Ms. Hudson”.  A good portion of them aren’t pagan, they grew up in other traditions and are not looking to change their faith.  What they are looking for is connection with someone – anyone.  They don’t feel as if they belong, they are disconnected from home and all that is familiar to them.  They are feeling a little lost and need some grounding.  So we talk.  Well, they talk – I listen.  They become a little more comfortable and then their questions start. They are confused by what they were taught about life growing up.  It doesn’t necessarily match what they are experiencing now that they are on their own. What they really want is a sounding board to work out the confusion. 

Unfortunately there is a common belief that if they go to the Chaplain of their own faith tradition they will get nothing but rhetoric and dogma; they want someone who won’t judge but will allow them to begin to work out loud the doubts.  I listen a lot. I invite them to come and join the students in SPIRAL so that they can gain a sense of connection to the Chapel.  We have students of differing faith traditions come to the weekly meetings regularly.  Do they continue to come over time? Not usually, they come for a while, make friends, and begin to see people of multiple pagan traditions enjoying their commonalities AND their differences without judgments.  They make those connections that allow them to find a different beauty in their own faith tradition; one they could not see from a “child’s” eyes.  They return to their own faith with new perspective.

This was truly what Linus and I want to do: give a new perspective, an evolving perspective, of what faith, religion and the Chapel are.  Let students know that we are there for them – all of them regardless of “religious designation.” More important, our presentation will be done together. A priest and a pagan standing together to say you really don’t know who we are but we are here to start the conversation and to let you understand, your faith is your’s to own and define and that’s okay.