What do you teach the baby quaker about religion? We have no creed, no dogma. Our theology is something like a group work and subject to interpretation and personal scrutiny. I'm finding it tricky to know just where to start.
In our wider family, biological and chosen, we have a huge variety of faiths. Duckling's grandmother was a Jewish quaker. I am a Christian quaker. Mr. Purpleduck is ... he'll let you know! We have Pagan friends, quaker and otherwise. Buddhist friends, quaker and otherwise. Our close circle also contains Atheists, Catholics, Methodists and all kinds of other flavours of Christian denomination, including those with no faith 'home' yet.
Duckling will grow up, hopefully, aware of these and other religions. I hope she will always seek That of God in those around her. I hope she'll be able to understand the links between religion, faith and spirituality, whatever she makes of them for herself. I hope she will be aware of her own spirituality and I hope she'll find a home in the society from which to do her own searching, as I and her grandmother have done before her. Duckling will have to find her own path. It can be lonely, but it can be exhilarating. Answers are never just handed to the quaker child. No one in her family or Meeting will ever tell her 'This is what you believe and then everything will be ok'.
So how am I to nurture this small soul's growth? What a huge responsibility! The Meeting shares some of the burden, of course, but right now she's still young enough for the creche rather than the children's meeting, and I'd love to find ways to help her start to navigate quakerism and religion.
A few ideas I have planned, long term;
*Read her stories and mythologies from lots of faiths.
*Teach her about Quaker history, including the cool stories I learnt as a child.
*Make sure she stays connected to the quaker community. It's lonely being a quaker teenager. The link weekends and JYM really were important.
*As in other aspects of our lives, follow her lead. Help her develop her own interests and passions re. social justice, involvement in the meeting. Answer her questions or teach her to seek her own answers.
But short term and specifically what? This is a subject I'll have to come back to many times over the next few years. I can start with simple discussions and stories now. I can talk about how I believe God is lots of different things to different people. I can sing her simple 'religious' songs and mostly I can try to make sure it's a subject that's never too embarrassing to discuss, which is tricky.
The title quote really bought home to me that I cannot hand her a faith. all I can do is share what I know, what I believe to be true and what I'm not sure of and give her the skills to find out more for herself.