As many of you know, the Summer Institute of Recovery Studies was held on the Fuller Campus in Pasadena, CA in July. In the rush to and from class, it would have been easy to miss the Prayer Garden tucked into one corner of the Fuller property. The stone structure is covered with vines and has a water feature that softens the city sounds and invites one to come in, take a seat and pray. I swear if I had a prayer garden like this at my house, I’d be a better pray-er.
One corner of the structure is a cross – the vertical beam is actually where two walls meet. I’ve admired this cross on previous trips, but it was within the context of this week that the stained glass captivated me. It spoke to me as a representation of the variety of men and women who came together for this week-long intensive. We had therapists, pastors, recovery ministry leaders, college professors, doctors, lawyers and the curious among us who defied labeling. It was a beautiful suffering to watch as we laid our certainty at the foot of the cross with a stubborn commitment to respect the dignity of our brothers and sisters who attended with wildly different certainties than our own. How grateful I am for the humility in the room. It made it possible for us to listen and take in, rather than evaluate and critique. This is the heart of who we want NACR to be for folks – a place where people can come together from a variety perspectives and be respectful of one another while also being incredibly curious about another’s perspective.