A couple of days ago I wrote about confirmation preparation like a Thanksgiving dinner, and that too often in our eagerness to make sure people get it, we stuff food down people's throats until they are sick.
Yesterday in church, the collect of the day has this great line about Scripture: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them... I always loved that image of digestion, of absorbing the nourishment of Scripture and turning it into how we live our lives.
The thing is, you can force people to eat, but you cannot force digestion. Digestion is not something you can do for someone else. Digestion happens in its own sweet time.
It occurs to me also that a lot of the time digestion looks like not doing anything. Someone who has just eaten a huge meal may not jump up do help with the dishes or run around the block. They may just lie there on the couch going, "ugh."
There are times when what we teach and share get people fired up and ready to take on the world. But when they're not, when we have taught our hearts out and people are just sitting there like lumps, we need to bear in mind that what's going on may not be a lack of engagement but a process of digestion.
I wonder if sometimes we see people who have taken a class who don't seem to be doing much with it and we say to ourselves, "We need to offer another class!" What if instead, we need to check in on the digestion? Rather than do more feeding, maybe we need evaluate the meal. Maybe we need to go to our confirmands and ask, How was that for you? What did you get out of that? What changed for you because of what you learned? Can you share with me any insights you got? And if you don't know yet, would you tell me if and when something does occur to you?
What if we came back to our confirmands three months, or six months, or a year after confirmation and asked them what it meant to them, what they learned, how they want to apply what they learned? What if the meal were not the end?