Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. After the regular service at the Nederland Community Presbyterian church, a group of young people met to learn about Buddhism. It might seem like a strange concept to some people who believe only in knowing about their own religion, but pastor Hansen Wendlandt believes it is time to educate our young people about religious diversity.
As young people go out into the world, he says, they will meet many people inspired by many things.
“The Presbyterian Community church invites young people to learn about different religious systems, one Sunday a month, during the school year, at noon. Instead of bringing experts from Boulder, we are asking locals to speak about their own faith. Our kids will see those neighbors and know that faith lives and is not some rare concept.”
One of the plans is to have food associated with the religion. The Buddhist meeting was accompanied by a Thai meal.
The session began with the traditional ringing of the bowl and having the group gather in a circle and speak of their feelings. The kids were then asked to fill their plates with the rice and egg rolls, pad tai, crab rangoon fried rice and noodles, without speaking, and to find a place at the table and sit down, without speaking.
It was strange to see a bunch of people eating without conversing. After a few minutes, they were asked what they felt, what they thought during the silence. One teen said, “It felt awkward to have so many people not talking.”
One boy said he noticed that the rice had a different flavor, that it was good, but he didn’t recognize it. The rice had a lemony tang, a taste he will recognize and appreciate in the future.
Buddhism and its meaning was explained by instructor Teresa Keller. It was a laid back, short presentation that brought the children to a meditative place.
Pastor Wendlandt says there is no persuasion or argument in the sessions, just a chance for young people to grow.
“We’re in this life thing together. I hope these events can help our young people to be a little readier to make their lives and their world a bit more connected, peaceful and meaningful.”