Charoset*, pictured here, is a delicious mixture of fruit and nuts most often eaten at Passover Seders. The name is taken from the Hebrew word for clay, and it is meant to represent the mortar (or in some versions, the adobe) the Jewish people used to build Pharaoh's cities during their time in Egypt. Of course, there are other interpretations, because this is the way of Talmudic tradition--what truths can be supported by careful study?
For nearly two decades I've been bound to my Jewish partner, and most years there's been a Seder, especially since our children came along.
I was raised Catholic, then had a few unchurched but searching years in my early twenties. In the transition to parenthood I was looking for community and sought a playgroup--little did I know that another young mother would invite me to visit her church...leading me to a faith community I could love, to Unitarian Universalism, and to my calling as a religious educator.
My sons have been brought up in Unitarian Universalism, with some intentional exposure to their Jewish heritage and Catholic family traditions. Here in Houston, Christianity is ever-present, but it's also a global city-my children's classmates come from dozens of countries and practice many religions.
This year the boys are in Coming of Age, a Unitarian Universalist program for teens. In some ways, this is like the confirmation process of many faiths--a journey and ritual to help youth move toward an adult understanding of their religion. They develop relationships with adults who are not family members, bond more closely with their age cohort, and have extensive time to consider what they hold most dear.
But UU Coming of Age is not about agreeing to a set faith statement. Instead, they consider what truths they already know, and what questions they still have. A tangible product of the year is the credo statement each youth develops. Here, the youth are preparing to stand in front of the congregation and share their statements.
Like charoset, credo statements can be sort of... chunky. A fully integrated and embodied statement is a lot to expect of ANY of us, at any age. But the start these thirteen and fourteen-year olds have made? Delicious.
And like charoset, there are an infinite number of recipes--no two credos are the same. And yet they use many of the same elements, what we can recognize as our shared faith, and with such hope and energy!
What would your credo be?
Whether or not you've studied theology extensively, whether or not you've read an assortment of philosophers and poets and comic books, I'm willing to bet that you have a pretty good idea of what you stand for. You believe certain things to be true, and you have some big questions that you struggle with. Maybe there are inconsistencies in what you believe, in what you practice--that just means that like all of us, you are compelling, struggling, and not done quite yet. Thank goodness.
*Just in case you clicked this link hoping for my charoset recipe--I go with what I like. 1 part chopped pistachios, 2 parts Granny Smith apples, a drizzle of honey, a few pinches of good cinnamon, and a couple glugs of sweet wine. Sometimes a squeeze of citrus juice, and a little extra salt if the mixture needs it.