This particular millennial is exploring a life with, not without, religion.
Posted in , Apr 6, 2016
My wife and I were in South Africa for Holy Week, spending Maundy Thursday through Easter at a monastery in the Eastern Cape where we welcomed the holiday in time-honored fashion, praying several times a day, eating our meals in community, getting up well before dawn on Easter Day to light the Pascal candle, the sun itself rising over the rolling hills just as the ancient refrain was proclaimed, “Christ is risen.”
“The Lord is risen indeed,” we repeated, the sunlight bathing us with its warming glow, streaming in the church’s east-facing windows. As a congregation we prayed the Lord’s Prayer in three languages: Africaans, English and Xhosa. Then sang “Christ the Lord is risen today” in the native Xhosa and English.
Now you might ask why we went so far to celebrate Easter when we would have happily prayed and sang and worshipped at our church at home. In fact, the 16-hour plane ride seemed more than appropriately penitential for Lent (I often figure that if Paul had had to fly, the trials of airplane travel would be on his Biblical list of travails).
We were there to see our 26-year-old son, Timothy, who is living in the monastery for 10 months and working in the grammar school the brothers have started for the rural kids in the area, getting them a head start on the education that will help them succeed in life.
Much ink has been spent on the religious-less life of the millennials, their tendency to check the “None” box on surveys when asked about religious affiliation. But dare I point out that some of them are kicking over the traces when setting out on a soul search?
Tim surely is one of them, his spiritual journey taking him a hemisphere and a continent away. Every parent wants to make sure their kids are doing okay, no matter how far away, but it was quite clear that he is happy, something we’d deduced from Skype chats.
In person, we got to hear from those he works with at the school and from the brothers themselves how much they value him and how they have put him to good use. What better answer to prayer?
As I watch my two millennial sons grow up, I continue to find myself delighted and surprised by the choices they make and the journeys they take. Like any dad, I’m always full of ideas myself of just what they should do and just who they should call (“Tim, in your job search, you might talk to…” I must have said or stopped myself from saying a million times). They could dub me Buttinski Dad!
And yet, what God has in store for them and what they seek out themselves is so much more interesting and rewarding than anything I could come up with.
Nobody should be so quick to judge the millennials and where their paths take them. God moves in their lives as He moved in ours. Keeping up with them might just take you to holy places you never imagined seeing. You might just welcome Easter in a southern-hemisphere’s autumn, the hills gold with sunlight blazing across the sky.