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Walking Toward a Miracle: October 2 at 10 am

Alison Faison

Sabbatical Summer 2022

Welcome back to the new 2022-23 school year! We are especially busy as our daughter is a junior in high school and son is in eigth grade. Looking through Calvary photos through the years, I see how I changed from a single young adult youth teacher in 1997 to a married person, a mother of two, and then the Calvary Director of Children and Family Ministries for almost nine years. I see how my children grew from infants to present-day youth at Calvary. The nurturing intergenerational community continues to foster my children’s faith formation and my understanding of how faith can change as we move through life’s stages.

I am thankful for the time I have been able to spend at 2515 Fillmore as well as time working with San Francisco community partners and Faith in Action Bay Area. Many thanks to Calvary community and leadership for granting me a summer sabbatical and study leave. I appreciated the ways that our Calvary Childcare Team, Elder, Jennifer Gee and Elder, Erin King, and Rev. Joann Lee worked together to ensure that we had childcare coverage each week during the summer. Keeping Childcare and Sunday Studio open each Sunday all year tells parents and families that we value their presence and want to create safe and meaningful spaces for them when they come to Calvary. After 25 years of experiencing Calvary worship services, I took the summer off and found other ways to engage in faith-building practices.

This was one of the first summers I did not formally work. For years, Westy and I lined up weekly camps for both children, so that we had childcare coverage. This year, I was able to drive our 8th grader to his 6-week consistent day camp at Crissy Field, as well as take our 11th grader to the airport so she could go on her first tour with Young Women’s Choral Projects to France. On the weeks we were home or with our extended family, we were able to be more fully present with one another. I took time to connect with good friends and my family for walks, hikes, or other adventures in sunny parts of the Bay Area and the East Coast. Similar to pandemic times, I kept up my home yoga and music practices.

I was able to continue fulfilling my goals of learning from the Level 1 and 2 Kodály Summer Music Program courses that I had completed online during summer 2020 and 2021. I connected in person with the Kodály Summer Music Program at Holy Names University and visited teachers’ classroom spaces. During the Level 1 and 2 courses, I learned over 100 children’s folk songs that help children integrate circle dances, movement, rhythm games, body percussion, internal hearing, improvisation, and two-part singing. Thankfully, I was able to practice some of these games and songs with the Calvary Nursery School children that I worked with during our weekly Outdoor Program at Mountain Lake Park during 2020-21. It was difficult to integrate all of this pedagogy, musicianship, and conducting without practicing it in an actual elementary school classroom consistently over a long period of time. During 2020 and 2021, I had to submit videos of myself singing and conducting these songs, as well as teaching an imaginary class. This summer, I was able to attend one day of choir and then learn the choral music at home even if I could not commit to participating for a three-week program on campus.  It was fulfilling to hear the participants perform in concert on the last night of the program. I committed to doing the rhythmic and melodic exercises in a sight-singing book as well as practice Kodály Bicinia Hungarica educational music pieces, and two-part exercises. This work supports my long-term goals of understanding the mechanics of music, expanding meaningful work with multi-age Sunday Studio environment, and being able to keep up with my daughter who grew up learning these music skills and repertoire.

I also had a lot of fun gardening with my son, posting silly videos and stories on social media, and having down time with my husband. I hope to carry these sustaining life practices of connecting with friends and family, doing yoga and music, and being present into my daily work world. They increase my hope and faith in God’s abundance, grace, and connection. I am ready to do the social justice work with Calvary and our San Francisco communities, as I think that communal work is God’s way of showing us all of the possibilities to find equity, love, and wellness. 

More to Explore

What does the Pew Research Center say about children and teens taking after their parents religiously?

We as parents or adults working with children and teens know that our actions stick in the minds of our children more than our words. If we create time to be with our children and teens, they notice. How does this act of being present figure into the Pew Research Center’s 2020 survey data about teens and their approach to religion and spirituality? On September 11, Calvary Homecoming, 19 children and 20 youth attended the service. That tripled the in-person children/youth attendance Calvary consistently had throughout 2021 and part of 2022. For three weeks, we have been seeing this rise in participation.  We hope that community grows and inspires families, children, and teens to see their friends at church.

How Do Today’s Families Connect with Calvary’s Mission, Vision, and Values?

We hear “God is doing a new thing!” in Isaiah 43:19 and wonder how our world can be as new as it was in the days before Jesus. We talk about “a new heaven and a new earth” in Revelation 21 and wonder what that looks like for us. This Sunday, September 18 we continue in Genesis with the Abram and Sarai story as we restart the Narrative Lectionary for fall 2022. God sent this couple to live in a new land and promised that they would be prosperous if they followed God. Last week we touched on the Noah’s Ark story with all of its colorful animal and boat imagery and the tragic effects of a giant flood. People all over the world are dealing with flooding every day, so these stories are relatable to many. Our children live in a new world compared to that experienced by their parents.

I Hope You Dance

I invite you to find a physical practice that helps you feel some sense of liberation or freedom. Jesus calls us to be free from things that hold us back from connecting directly with God who is always there. Dancing helps us celebrate, release, prepare us for rest and let go, so that we can connect more fully with the divine. We can engage our freedom to advocate for safety and autonomy of others. Breath, prayer, connection with others, and movement requires our physical presence and gives us life abundantly. Dance on!