Alison Faison

From generation to generation: ancestors, us, and our kids

This morning I drank coffee, ate breakfast, and lit candles: twelve connected in a circle, the 4th candle on the menorah, and the four Advent candles on the angel chimes. It is Winter Solstice, also known as the Longest Night. Tonight we will celebrate a long night transition which generations of our ancestors have experienced. We share the Advent theme of “From Generation to Generation” with A Sanctified Art and countless churches across the United States. How do we remember the good that our ancestors fostered while doing good now, and encouraging a sustainable future for our children? This afternoon we will make lunches for over a thousand people to receive on Christmas Eve. Then we will sing together by candlelight in the chapel. How do these spiritual practices relate to sustainability, stewardship, and Seven Generation Thinking?

While reading Traci Smith’s Treasure Box Tuesday email, I clicked on her recommendation of an article about Seven Generation Thinking. I found an article written by Charlotte Akers from October 13, 2022. I like how Smith relays that “Seven Generation Thinking is common to a number of world belief systems.” Akers pinpoints the Seven Generation Philosophy of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquis) people that claims “the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.”  

We know that we are a consumer culture, even in our approach to church. Short-term gains are in our minds which could exclude thoughts about the future consequences of our action or inaction. God of the Old and New Testaments shows us the long view about how we, the children of God, are to be in the world. Doing incremental spiritual practices that encourage patience, questioning, discernment, listening, forgiving, and praying can open and quiet our minds so that we can make good sound choices. We can also be more present for our children, senior adults, and neighbors.

Since I did not have to drive my teens to school today, I was able to spend a few moments doing yoga. During that session, I experienced release and remembering, two things necessary to move on from old patterns, advance into growing edges, help body systems flow better, calm the acquisitive mind and heart, and reclaim stillness. When I got to work, an email reminded me to check my year-end investment report. Currently, my family could live simply for one year on retirement savings. I am thankful for that possibility, but also know that I need to work full-time well past age 65. Many people who do not benefit from generational wealth or opportunities for the best-paying jobs (even if qualified) face the fact that they might not get to retire in the way that they want to even if they worked continuously during their adult years. What legacy does that offer the next generation? Charlotte Akers reminds us that Seven Generation Thinking is not just about economic and environmental sustainability, but “all relationships: ecological, cultural, communities, and even our individual wellbeing.” How are we helping to create equitable and just systems that allow all people to access safety, healthcare, and wellbeing?

The article mentions inherited trauma. This morning during savasana (known as corpse or resting pose), I wished my ancestors rest, as I knew about many of the traumas they had experienced. I thought about traumas that I did not know about which seemed to play roles in family systems. I am responsible to be aware of my own inherited trauma and work to keep myself healthy. As an early childhood educator and parent, I understand that children have an amazing capacity to lead their own learning and don’t need to be filled with our information. We facilitate learning by creating safe environments with essential questions and materials for them to spark their own creations. Some of us were shaped by ancestors who thought that direct instruction and no space for feedback was the best way to work with children. Many adults would take personal offense to questioning rather than note that it is an opportunity for conversation and exploration. When something we are learning does not have a definitive answer or offer closure, we can take a breath and know that it is one step in our learning process. When we talk with our children about faith we can share our own doubts and questions without fearing that our children will abandon faith practices. We can walk together and be present in what we are all experiencing, so that we can validate how worthy we are as God’s children. We can apologize to our children and encourage them without fearing losing our authority or credibility. We can do that with our peers as well. As you move through this seasonal transition, may you acknowledge the ancestors that are in your DNA, your spirit, and those Gen Z folks who are shifting to lead a world we know nothing about.  

More to Explore

Wear Orange: When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Isaiah 2:4 says, “He will settle arguments between nations. They will pound their swords and their spears into rakes and shovels; they will never make war or attack one another.” I read Sandy Hook Promise posts on Instagram and cannot escape thinking of the horror a parent experiences after their child or teen is shot. This is not sensationalism or fake news. On August 27, 2019, I took my middle school daughter to Lincoln High School for a Town Hall on gun sense, directly relating to the shooting of 15-year-old Day’von Hann, a student who lived in the Mission District. Then Speaker Nanci Pelosi, Rep. Jackie Speier, Founder of Moms Demand Action Shannon Watts, CA Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, and 17-year-old Phillip and Sala Burton High School student and member of United Playaz, AJ Santiago led the meeting. After these change-maker women shared personal experiences, data, and gun sense bill proposals, I was sure we would have gun violence reform. I was wrong. The CDC says that firearms are the second-leading cause of death among American children and teens. One out of ten gun deaths involve age 19 or younger. Everytown Research relays that “there were more school shootings in 2022 (46 shootings) than in any other year since Columbine.” One would think that this statistic would be enough to take immediate action to make common gun sense bills into law and enforce them in court. Money talks, so much of the bills continue to be blocked by gun supporter groups. How do we empower our children and teens to use their collective bargaining power to urge legislative, judicial, and executive branches to make change now? I don’t need to explain how this is related to the non-violent civil disobedience of Jesus and many change-makers. Christians are obligated to love their neighbor and care for the vulnerable. If they do not want to prevent gun violence against innocent civilians, their beliefs are not based in Jesus' life-affirming truth.

Life After Foster Care

During a Faith in Action Bay Area meeting yesterday we were working on pin-pointing false narratives about unhoused people. Our goal was to find true stories that dispel those untrue statements. What are the false narratives about what happens after a youth becomes an adult and leaves the foster care system? In general, a youth has aged out of the system at 18 years old, but some states are extending it to 24 years in order to provide more support. People who do not want to pay for the foster care system might say, “The foster care/government system has supported children until they became adults. They should have the tools to become independent. They are on their own at 18.” Unfortunately, according to the group, A Sense of Home, we know that 50% of people experiencing homelessness are former foster youth. ( The foster care system does not have the capacity to fully serve resources to the average of 566 children who enter the foster care system every day in the U.S. According to the June 2022 AFCARS Report (, that's 1 youth every 2.5 minutes. There is a disproportionate amount of houseless teens who identify as LGBTQ2SIA+. True Colors United says that they are 120% more likely to experience homelessness and are at risk for gender dysphoria and suicide. ( The nation-wide worker shortage or rather workers’ unwillingness to work in unsupportive environments has also brought an uptick in workers striking in order to get their demands met. Working in the foster care system takes training, dedication to learning on-the-job, as well as compassion and problem-solving skills. If workers are not properly trained and supported, they get emotional burn-out. How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus to help change this system?

Feeding Our Grief

“Cynecism is ungrieved grief.” I thought about this quote a lot after reading Traci Smith’s free Treasure Box Tuesday email. She, a children’s minister and author, quotes pastor and author, Rob Bell, who probably officiated many memorials and heard countless stories of grief from congregation members. In the past two months, I have attended three memorials for parents of my peers. All of the services were culturally different, but the grief was the same. We got together to breathe in stillness, hear music, observe the grieving family, eat a meal together, and connect with our own mortality. Ashes to ashes. I experienced three Ash Wednesdays after Easter. Civilian and urban folks world-wide have endured multiple brutal and unplanned Ash Wednesdays since Easter. San Francisco, Texas, Ukraine, Sudan.