Cultural Pilgrimage: Reflections from our visit to a Buddhist Temple and Hindu Temple #learningisbigger #commentsforkids #denver

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My experience with the Hindu and Buddhist temples was good. All of the people we met showed great hospitality and shared amazing wisdom, and we can learn a lot from what they believe. From Buddhists, we can learn to persevere through the hardships of life. As the Buddha himself allegedly said, “Life is suffering”, and is believed to have risen above suffering and attained nirvana. Even if we may not believe this to be true, we can still learn perseverance, no matter what struggles we may face in our lives.

Now let’s see what Hindus bring to the table. At the Hindu temple, Ananda said that God’s forgiveness is greater than His justice, which goes to show that just as Christians believe that God is merciful, Hindus do too. We can also learn to be more loving and devoted to our God like Hindus do. When they give offerings to God, the point is not that God takes the offering, but rather accepts their love and devotion to Him. We struggle with that a lot, considering the temptations of this world.

The things I mentioned are few of many lessons to be learned from these people, but nonetheless important.   –Jackson

 
Going a second time to the Hindu and Buddhist temple has given me a new perspective. Buddhism is such a unique religion. After going a second time I still don’t fully understand it. One of my favorite concepts of this religion is “to live a simple but fulfilled life.” (Diana) I feel that sometimes my life is to crowded. I can’t live a fulfilled life. Another one of my favorite concepts is the lotus flower. It grows in dirt but comes out beautiful. We are all broken in some way but when we become enlightened we are glued back together. One thing I learned was that we all have differences but instead of looking at the flaws we should honor our differences. Hinduism is a fascinating religion. I learned that Hinduism revolves around hidden service and putting other before your self. “The nature of the sole is to serve.” (Tushta)  We should not serve in a boastful way. We should serve in a hidden way. I learned that when we serve it should be un motivated and we get more out of it if we give rather than take. Overall this was an incredible religious pilgrimage and I am so sad this is my last time.  — Alli

 

I live in a world of glass. It’s a world where reality lays just beyond the bend. It’s a world where sometimes I can feel like I can reach out and grasp God, but then that barrier of glass reality slaps me in the face. I realize how far I really am from grasping God. “No one is perfect.”(Diana Thompson). I may know that deep down in my heart that I am no where close to God, but I still reach out my hand to try and touch him. I realize that my world of glass is as clear as me. It is as blind and lost as me. When ever I get slap in the face with reality, God always lifts me up and tells me try again. Whether it is through yoga, enlightenment, or wishful thinking, he will always lift me back up. Right as I am about to give up and escape my world of glass to enter into hell, I remember. I remember how God is always there. I remember that with the remembrance of God there can never be hell. I remember that God will always lift me up and tell me to try again. So I try. I try with the little speck of energy that I have left to reach God. This time, instead of reaching out to try and grasp him, I close my eyes and fall. I fall right through the glass barriers into Gods waiting arms, and hear him say, “All you had to do was close your eyes and trust me.”  –Mak

 
Looking back on my experience going to the Buddhist and Hindu temple was really cool for me because I got to change my perspective even more on religion. What I could contribute to my life from the Buddhist temple was to be more enlightened with me and others. I also really like what Diana said about karma. If you do something good or bad it will come back to you, but if you spread happiness it will lead and chain reaction to others. (Diana). In the Hindu temple I felt peace and comfort through the song that Tushta and Ananda sang and what we were discussing. My favorite quote from the day was, “Every word is a song and every step is a dance” (Tushta).  What that meant to me was that everything we do is either worshiping God or going against him. Our body can be good and bad depending on our mind and actions. I really enjoyed going to the Buddhist and Hindu temple and stepping out of my comfort zone.  –Charleigh

 
Buddhism:
Look to find peace through different perspectives. “People see things in different ways.”(Diana Thompson). Everyone is not always going to agree on the same thing. God made us to think differently but unique. In the Buddhism religion there are three different kinds of peace, finding peace within, finding peace with our peers and finding peace with nature. Discovering those three different kinds of peace looks different to everyone. In my opinion If you discover the three peace’s that will make God easier to find and to talk to, because you’re not in a rush to find peace. This also reminds me of the Buddhist symbol because Diana said the wheel also represents that everyone has their own path and none of the paths were the same. Looking through different perspectives matter.  –Maddie

 
Hinduism:
We need to be true servants. “True happiness is service.” (Tushta. When we are true servants we are happy. Hidden service is the best kind of service. Another thing that stood out to me was when Anada talked about how if we had a bracelet we can see all the beads, but the thing that is holding it together is the string. God is the string. God works in our life in so many different ways maybe it’s through others or scripture, but God talks to us through something. He can also show Himself through perspectives. I felt like I could feel God in the Hindu temple. It is cool to learn more about these religions and get a new perspective on it.   –Lauren

 
There is lotus flowers in the muck, and a thread that holds together a pearl bracelet. We are constantly under the muck, in the rubble of destruction. We are stuck there with everyone else. Our brains break down, instead of our hearts breaking free, but beauty still lives inside us. We have to unleash the beauty and become the one flower that blooms through brokenness and the lotus that perfectly settles in the midst of muck. When we become this beauty we inspire others to sprout as well. Everything is connected. “Karma is considering what you do because you effect others.” (Dianna, Buddhist teacher). Karma is always happening because our actions are constantly impacting others. We are all pearls on a bracelet, all connected by a thread. “We might not see the thread but the thread is needed. The thread is God.” (Ananda, Hindu teacher). At the temples today I realized that Buddhism doesn’t really have much structure. Buddhism believes everything is connected, but it’s as if the Buddhist people don’t see the thread that holds us together. The tread which is God. There are many great practices in Buddhism like the eight-fold path, which teaches doing right and being aware, yet there was an absence of structure and faith. Dianna seemed open to almost any beliefs, but she didn’t appear to have her own. On the other hand, at the Hindu temple I really could see they believed in a greater being. The Hindu people believe in Krishna, the thread of all. “Every word is a song and every step is a dance.” (Tushta, Hindu Teacher). The Hindu religion was constantly singing, listening, and dancing for God. Devotion and surrender were two words that were brought up. God constantly sculpts us, but we have to allow Him. We must surrender and meditate in devotion. When we serve we are dancing and singing. Service is a huge part of what Tushta taught us. “A person who is in a giving mood feels much more fulfillment.” (Tushta). Especially in the world today we are told fulfillment comes through materialistic items, but when we serve others the fulfillment we feel is much deeper than then our torn skin, we fill the void within us. Overall, these trips today are an eye opening experience and pull me closer to God in an abundance of ways. I feel inspired to be the beauty when there is brokenness and to thank and celebrate the Thread that holds all creation together.  — Megan

 
This experience at the Buddhist temple fed the lotus flower that is starting to bloom within my spirit. We are all stuck in the muck, but we all have the potential to blossom into to be beautiful and pristine like the lotus flower. (Diana Thomson). We must recognize the inner beauty each one of us has before we can go on and place it amongst the universe. One of the ways we can portray this beauty amongst the world is by being aware that our every action has an affect somewhere else. “Everything we do here and now has an affect somewhere else.”(Diana Thomson). Everything is interconnected; therefore what we do impacts the world around us. We have control over what we spit out into the universe whether it be good or bad. We choose to nourish the world with good actions or break it with our selfish and over attached ways.
What we do whether it be good or bad tends to come back to us. We must be cautious of what we place in society because not only will it come back to us, but it will either hurt or encourage others. “Its not what you get back, but rather how it affects others.”(Diana Thomson). Sometimes we will fail at inducing love and joy within others, but even if there are unintended consequences we must prevail.
I appreciated when Diana Thomson was talking about how service is in fact extremely important in our daily lives. I was inspired by the offerings the Buddhists would offer to the Buddha because it showed their humility and the importance to give before you yourself takes. (Diana Thomson). This experience fed my inner lotus flower with the importance of service, inner beauty, our actions, and most importantly that everything is interconnected.
There is a supreme Divine in this world and this Divine is the reservoir of all beauty. This experience opened my eyes once more that Hinduism is a similar reflection to my own view of God. God is like the thread that strings underneath every pearl attached to it. At first you may not see the thread, but it is there and holds everything together. (Ananda). Together both the pearls and the thread create a beautiful piece of art. God holds all of us together sculpting a masterpiece in the end. It takes time to sculpt a masterpiece out of muck, but first we must find the yolk between us and the Lord. We must connect with God. When we connect with the Lord we will understand how truly magnificent the Divine is. We often confine God to a certain race or religion, but God has no limits. God has no limits, he is just God. (Tushta). Humans limit themselves of what we can and can’t do. We accept the idea of serving, yet we never take action because of the borders we set for ourselves. I loved how both Tushta and Ananda were talking about the importance of serving others. Serving others satisfies our hunger for purpose and also is what we are called to do. If a person is giving they feel fulfilled. (Tushta). When we love God and recognize God loves us we will extend that love throughout the universe, feel fulfilled, and help others feel fulfilled as well. I also appreciated the perspective Ananda took on hell. Hell is just the act of forgetting God.(Ananda). When we forget God we are not fulfilled and our hunger for beauty is not quenched. We must always look towards God and see the thread underneath even in hardships because the Divine is the reservoir for all beauty and beauty prevails.  — Macie

 

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Reflections from a Cultural Pilgrimage Day 2: Synagogue

Student reflections from Team Fink, Day 2 of their cultural pilgrimage to a local synagogue.

 

Rabbi Susan has such passion today, which I really appreciated because she just believed and followed her faith and it seems a good example for us. We should walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I learned the Jewish religion has so much to do with community and acceptance of others. Instead of I and Mine, it is Ours and Us. They believe in love and strive to show it. I still wonder why they insist Jesus is not the Messiah and why they don’t believe all the bible and some of the ways Rabbi Susan answered our questions was kind of defensive, yet she had shown excitement and joy in her teaching and knew lots. Over all this exposure helped me learn and gain a new perspective of Judaism, but there is always room to discover more.
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Temple Saini was an eye opening experience for the Jewish religion. I never knew that that actually still used scrolls, I thought they just had a book. Susan explained to us many different things aou the Jewish faith that I had no idea about. For example the first Jew that came to the USA, and what the star symbol represented. There are three kinds of Jewish faiths, although I do not remember the names other than orthodox Jews, they all had a little bit different belief system than the others. One thing that I don’t agree with is that Jesus is not the son of God. I believe that Jesus was sent down as a human form of God, and Jesus was perfect just like his father in heaven. The Jewish people also do believe in prophets and they believe that Jesus was just a man who lived perfectly. That is the part that I don’t understand.  I feel that when we have humility and give up to God we will truly know him. There is no other way. The Lord is all knowing and is love, patience, goodness, kindness, and all the fruits of the spirit. The more we practice the fruits of the spirit, we can become more like God in multiple ways.
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I enjoyed being at a temple again this year. I learned more things and expanded on some topics from last year. One thing that really stood out is that she said messianic Jews weren’t actually Jews. She had a very strong feeling about that and it was surprising to me. This may not of been as interesting as Islam, but even Rabbi Susan knew about Islam too and I appreciated that about her.
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Surrounding communities are so different yet the same. Learning Judaism more in depth today as a second step to our religious pilgrimage helped me to better understand a community that was the historical beginning of Christianity. There were some conflicts today surrounding different topics but it helped bring our differences together.
I liked the history/cultural lesson in the beginning
How they feel about Jesus:I am still confused
People are born Jewish both religiously and blood
She was one of the first female rabbis in the USA

Reflections from Cultural Pilgrimage Day 1: Mosque

Reflections from Team Fink, Cultural Pilgrimage Day 1:

 

Sometimes we need to experience something twice to process it. Going to the Mosque for the second round made me feel more comfortable with different religions. There are many differences between Christianity and Islam, but we can also learn from people that don’t believe the same as we do. Today I learned more about women’s rights in Islam, their teachings and their beliefs. The one thing that stood out to me was the call for prayer (muezzin) and its translation. God is greater than anything we are doing this second, and the least we can do is think about him for a few minutes. What still stands with me is that we tend to spend not a lot of time focusing on God every day, while others dedicate their time each day to love and thank God.

Notes
Women are like diamonds
In order to thank or as for forgiveness from God, we a have to thank or apologize to the people we affected
Using Google, but not relying on it
They believe that Jesus did not die on the cross
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“Recently we were attacked by Muslim terrorists”
“The Islamic group ISIS has just destroyed..”
“We are still at war with Muslim Radicals”
“These people pose a great threat to our society”
There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. 95% are peaceful, only 5% are radical. That is still over 50 million people. 50 million people mixed with the media can make us think differently of the entire 1.7 billion.  In reality Islam isn’t the religion the media poses it to be. Visiting a Mosque can change the way you think. There are many different views of even Islam. It’s up to us to learn about these things and not just focus on the media.
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When Mati spoke to us it almost gave me goosebumps. One of my favorite topics he was talking about was when he said you need to acknowledge something before you fix something. Like with ourselves I the power of one we have to know who we are before we can fix ourselves. We are so quick to judge that we try to fix a religion or culture but we don’t even know it. He was also saying that we have a lot of similarities in religion but it is the differences that make it so unique. I loved that because we are always trying to get people to be a specific way but differences are something that we should admire. He talked a lot about how the most important source to learn from is books. He said that the we should use the Internet but not rely on it. I liked that he was saying that they think of woman more precious than jewels so they cover themselves to get rid of the distraction and to treat them not for their looks but for their minds. A part that Mati said was extremely powerful for me and I will remember it for a long time. Mati said, “God does not need us to pray, it is for our own benefit.” I loved that because God is perfect and righteous a person like that does not need people to bow down to him. God provides for us and he gives us the blessing to observe and choose for ourselves. Mati made a metaphor saying that God created man and woman differrent and that they are both needed. He said that one would be the transmission in the car and the other engine. You could have a really strong engine but without the transmission it could never move no matter how strong the engine is. You could have a great transmission but without the power of the engine it won’t go anywhere.
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I never in my life time thought that I would ever step foot in a mosque. I always thought that people who aren’t Christian are bad. That they are sinners and they are going to hell. Even though it was out of my comfort zone, it showed me a religion that was so strongly proud of what they believe. ” This wasn’t a strange place, it was a new one” ( The Alchemist). A man named Matt was speaking to us about his religion and his beliefs. Not word for word, but in quotes that he has made. One quote that stood out to me was, ” don’t trust google, find out for yourself.” I have always heard that but having him repeat it over and over hit me harder then anyone else saying it.
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Going to the mosque for a second time was different than before, especially having someone else teaching. I learned more about the religion and have a better understanding of it. I really liked the imam this time around. Some of the topics he told me about had better affect than last year. It was interesting and cool to hear about how people treat him since the attacks in Paris. When we were meeting his wife, she was fully covered. He even asked us, “doesn’t she look like she’s from a different land?” At first we laughed, and then he told us to be honest. We nodded, and he goes, “she’s completely American.” then smiled. She was the sweetest person I have ever met. I enjoyed this trip.
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This experience was eye opening to new cultures and religions. It gave me a new perspective on what Muslims believe and think about society. Something that I thought was cool was when they did the call for prayer because Matt was translating it for us. One of my favorite lines was ” God is the greatest, God is the greatest” because they take God and their religion so seriously. Something that I remembered that Matt said was, ” If a black person sat by a white person and asked him if he had fifty cents the white man would be quick to say no and look away. If a white man sat by a white man and asked him for fifty cents he would be going through his bag to find some money.” That stood out to me because it is acceptance and who society tell us we have to hang out with.
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Mati spoke to us about his religion and Cluture. He said that Christianity and Islam were very similar. Mati said Christianity and Islam both worship the same God. He said a lot of cool quotes. “Do not always rely on what people tell you.” People thought that Mati was a Muslim extrimest. We shouId not be so quick to judge. We should get to know someone not by looks but, by their 90%. Muslims have a lot of respect for God when they pray. It was really humbling for me when they put their noses to the floor to show that they are so much less then God. Christians just lay on the couch and do not pray respecfuly. Overall this was an amazing expirence to learn a different religion that I never knew.
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We talked to a Islamist with the name of Mati. He showed us the call for prayer (which was my favorite part) and showed us what he understood. Seeing the men do their prayer really stunned me and made me think about ‘they really love God and show it through their movements.’ It made me think on how the difference of prayer for Muslims and Christians. Why do we judge Muslims before we see what they do, they have better prayer than us.

Learning Excursion Reflection: The Great Sand Dunes

Learning Excursion

Our Great Sand Dunes adventure was truly phenomenal!  The students were well behaved, and I was truly impressed with the depth of learning, sharing, playing, and building community.  What a blessing to be at a school that allows this type of learning!

Below are several quotes we shared, analyzed, and responded to the past few days. I hope you enjoy. – Lance
Nature Quotations
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir (1838–1914)

What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn! ~Logan Pearsall Smith

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. -Unknown

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. ~Osho

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Khalil Gibran

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. Cummings

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. ~Charles A. Lindbergh

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little window-sill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National parks — the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc. — Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world. ~John Muir

Student Responses:

Sand  Dunes The  towering  dunes.  The  flowing  stream.  The  loud,  fun  van  rides.  The  awesome  prank.  The  gas  station  stops.  The  falling  tent.  The  warm  fire  with the  star  lit  sky  above.  I’d  say  this  trip  was  one  to  remember.  Friends. Community.  Determination  and  perseverance.  Nature,  solitude,  peace. Sand  Dunes,  had  it  all  for  us.  This  trip  was  amazing.  The  tight  knit community  plus  the  ineffable,  serene  location  was  absolutely  unique  and fantastic.  There  was  so  much  that  we  saw  and  did  there,  but  getting  to  the top  of  high  dune  definitely  was  remarkable.  “Forget  not  that  the  Earth delights  to  feel  your  bare  feet  and  the  winds  long  to  play  with  your hair.”  (Khalil  Gibran)  At  the  top,  the  dunes  felt  as  if  they  went  on  forever. The  winds  would  play  with  us  and  I  realized  how  worth  it  is  to  persevere. The  experience  to  do  this  was  phenomenal  and  I  hope  to  go  to  the  Sand Dunes  again someday, hopefully  with such a great  group. – Megan

This trip was one of my favorites. Some things that I liked were the Sand Dunes. We hiked up the Sand Dune and went sand boarding and sledding that was so much fun. Also the van rides it was fun jamming to music and laughing with friends. We also took a hike up to the waterfall. The waterfall was enviable. While we were up there we had quiet time that was so powerful to me listening to the stream and talking with God. It was fun sitting around the campfire as a community playing games and laughing. Over all I loved this trip hanging out with friends, laughing and being a community.  – Alli

I enjoyed coming on this sand dunes trip for many reasons, you may ask me “Luke what was your favorite part of the sand dunes trip” and you would probably hear an answer like sand boarding. That was my favorite part of the trip, but there was more to it than just that. God spoke to me in many ways on this trip, and seeing his beauty out in nature was incredible. That’s what I enjoyed about our sand dunes excursion. – Luke

I thought that this trip was the best school trip I have ever been on so far. One of my favorite parts were just camping and being with my friends, my other favorite part was playing a prank on the girls and Mr. Fink. I also thought being out in nature helped me reflect, and come to know god better. The sand dunes were amazing as well, the only bad part was that it was super windy and sand got in my eyes, but other than that my trip was amazing. – JP

I had such a fun week in the Sand Dunes. One of my favorite parts was the waterfall, the crashing water splashing on my face. The waterfall was so serene. I like how I can get closer to my friends and class. When we went to the Dunes I felt so accomplished because I went to the highest dune. It was also so fun when I went sand sledding. I crashed but that’s the fun of it. – Lauren

My favorite part about the camping trip, was running around in the forest. I felt like that it was so peaceful at night in there. Just the laughter and nature brings a whole new camping to the trip. It’s like the trees soaked up my worries and stress, and the grass cleaned it off. Stars seemed to be having a great time, shooting across the sky. Nothing that is man built could beat this appearance. No remotes to see this on Tv, no pictures from the past, man built resources that showed it, could still not beat the creation. – Jack

Nature is filling to the soul. The trip to the Sand Dunes was an amazing experience. Camping is refreshing and is an escape from everyday life and business. Hiking to the Sand Dunes was accomplishing. It was hard but the view was worth it it look like a painting of the museum. My favorite part of these trips are the nights. Pranking each other, talking, and getting to know each other are an essential part of these trips and will be memories that I will look back at. These trips help us become one with nature and each other. – Isabella

The trip we took to the sand dunes was remarkable in many different ways. I really enjoyed being out in nature, away from the classroom, experiencing the wilderness. I will never forget those moments in the outdoors, whether it was the view from the highest sand dune, or the canyon waterfall. The moments spent in community were also extremely memorable. I loved being with my friends sandboarding, in a tree, or even in the van ride. It is so awesome that we have the opportunity in our school to go on this amazing trip. Everything we did was super awesome, the Garden of the Gods was gorgeous, the sand dunes were wicked cool, the camping was fun, and the gator farm was epic. Overall it was an incredible learning experience. -Joseph

On this camping trip I felt in nature. There were only a few things we did inside. I felt like God was right with me the whole entire time. My two favorite parts of camping were the sand dunes and the waterfall hike. Reaching the highest sand dune was such a success for me. Seeing almost everything in Colorado was breath taking. I absolutely loved the waterfall hike. When I first walked in the cave and saw it I was amazed! The way the teachers put this trip together was great! I know I got closer to God in nature!  (Samantha )

One of the things that I really liked was the hike up to the waterfall and stream.I really enjoyed the walk up there for me that was the perfect amount of walking. When we got up there you could be one with nature. one thing that stuck out to me was when I got to talk to some of the new kids to the school like JP and Grace. I got to hang out with them some more. I loved stargazing.Where I live you only see ten or fifteen a night was really cool.I really liked hanging out with Ella,Kayleigh, samantha, Makayla and Grace. They always had a happy attitude and were ready to help and serve and they were all so sweet. (Gabby )

My favorite part of the trip was hiking the Sand Dunes! The reason why the Sand Dunes were my favorite part was because I was able to climb the tallest or second tallest Sand Dune. I had a huge open blister on the bottom of my foot but that didn’t stop me from hiking all the way up. Even though it hurt a little I wanted to succeed and I did. While we were hiking up the dunes I was able to hang out with friends and I also meet some new teachers and kids. I loved when the wind was blowing even though the sand hurt sometimes. You could feel the wind playing with your hair. It was phenomenal! I also liked sledding down the sand.  It was so much fun to fall off the sled.  Then I would get back on and sled the rest of the way down. A lot of people were extraordinary at boarding and sledding like Angelina Hogan, Dylan, Samantha and others. (Maddie)

We traveled to a beautiful camp ground where we set up camp… There was something special about it. Oh yeah, we’re right next to the Great Sand Dunes National Park! My goal was to get to the top of the second highest dune in the park. The dune is called High Dune. We rented sand boards and sand sleds to take to the top with us. Some of us went to the top of the dune. It felt really good to be up there except for the sand in my eyes. I felt so accomplished up there looking out to the other HUGE piles of sand. It was a great trip. After we sand sledded down from the dunes, we went on a hike to a great waterfall and took some time to think about how great our God is. He created the mountains that stand strong today. He created all animals that roam around in the grasslands or swim under the water. He made us so we can do all the things we do today. Thanks to Him we can climb to the top of the sand dunes or play sports with others. Also we can have a good time talking and hanging out with our friends. I’m so glad I got to go on this trip. It’s an experience I will never forget.    (Ben)

I thing the best part of the trip was the time we had at the waterfall to just listen. I know we learned that God can talk to us in a whisper or a loud voice, but I did not understand that it could be even smaller then that. I was sitting listening to the waterfall, when I decided to pray to God to ask him for a whisper. I wanted him to tell me something. Now that’s not bad. But when we started to get back together, I got mad because he had not talked to me at all. Then I got madder and madder. When realized that maybe he was not going to talk to me in plain English. Maybe he had tried to talk to me by giving me signs in nature. And I had not understood him because I thought that there was only one right way to hear God and because of that I missed him. My heart was not open enough for him to get in it a way that I would understand. I am sure that he wanted to tell me something, but my heart was not ready to understand it. So he gave me something to grow on and something to learn from so the next time my heart might be ready to hear him in the way he wants.    (Makayla)

Reflections from a Pilgrimage by Team Fink

After a phenomenal discussion on our 2nd religious pilgrimage, I asked the students to write a succinct one to two sentence take away from our outing(s).  I thought it might be interesting for you to read.

Pilgrimage #2 takeaway: (Buddhist and Hindu Temple)

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.

Religious are wonderfully different.

By knowing more you’re seeing more.

I don’t know how it’s going to work and how I’m gonna get there, but what I believe I know, that’s faith and through God and faith I’m gonna get to where I need to be.

We may have different beliefs or practice different religions, but still we are all people and human.

By knowing more about other religions you become closer with other people.

The more we don’t know about someone, the more we dehumanize them.

Discipline can draw us closer.

Religion is yet a great way to get closer to spiritual realm and can live life in peace and love and giving to others. At the same time Religion is like a war, a battle within.

The absence of knowledge is fear.

We have different beliefs, yet we are all human.

Differences can be beautiful.

A few other quotes we have been discussing:

“What if, instead of casting ourselves as people who can explain God to others, we viewed our lives as a void into which God speaks?”  –Selmanovich

“Religion is not the pearl, but the shell that holds the pearl.”   –Samir Selmanovich

“The human heart is an idol-making factory.” — John Calvin

“God rid me of God”.  –Meister Eckhart

Reflections from a cultural pilgrimage through Denver

Posted by |Tenkely|

Recently the 8th grade students at Anastasis Academy embarked on a cultural journey around Denver.  Below are pictures of the travels and reflections from the students.

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Hindu Temple

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Baha’i center

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Mosque

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Buddhist Temple

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Christian Church

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Jewish Temple

I’m so impressed with the journey of understanding these kids have embarked upon.  Their faith has been stretched, and therefore has grown.  Please take the time to read their responses below.  There is wisdom within, and I’m incredibly proud of all of them.

 

-Mr. Fink

“Beyond”

Look deeper. God works through all areas. Who are we to say what he is and isn’t. We cannot put God in a box. Going from temple to mosque, to church, etc. made me realize God is everywhere. Maybe he isn’t the god the religions worships, but he is still working wonders, weaving himself through other religions. “I am an instrument for Gods will,” said a Hindu Monk. God has the power to do anything. Instead of picking out wrong in other religions, leave the wonder-working to God. In John 13:35 it says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love everyone. Even if the Iman or Reverend say concepts you don’t believe, or the Hindu’s have divas you don’t consider a part of your faith, love the people. As a proud Christian, I am confident in my faith so venturing into other faiths only makes mine stronger.

~Caroline F

“Hidden God”

God is complex beyond measure and can be interpreted in many ways. If you traveled around the world and looked up at the sun, it would be the same sun that can be seen anywhere. The sun can be shown by heat, light and can be seen by reflections everywhere. This is like God. He may be called Allah, Yah, Dios, etc., but it is the same God. Everyone is unique and can see God in a different way through friends, strangers, birds, grass, television, or whatever speaks to them. Pastor Andrew said, “God will burn you, all the way down to grace.” Our class has been learning about Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Baha’i. Before this, when I saw a Muslim or a Hindu, my mind went straight to the stereotypes and I thought they must be crazy and foreign. As I learn and had the opportunity to have a conversation with these people, I realized they truly aren’t that different from me. Sure I may act out my belief in God differently, but does that make either crazy? Now, my Christianity is much stronger. In Islam, I saw kindness and dedication. Buddhism taught me to find peace in mind to help me connect with God. Hinduism taught me that my soul is more important then material and how I look. In Baha’i, I learned how important equality is between all. One of the most important things I learned was to not listen to the stereotypes, like the Buddhist minister said, “Religion is a beautiful thing until people get involved”.

-Riley L

“Disciples of God”

My take away from our religious pilgrimages’ made me think hard. I start to wonder what different religions are like, but in the end of all the wondering, I realized how lucky I am to be a Christian. I’m not saying that the other religions such as Hinduism, Bah’i, Buddhism, etc. are bad religions. What I am saying is that I’m going to stick to what I believe in and I’m proud to be a Christian. Yet in the end, aren’t we all disciples of God? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13: 34- 35) Why is it that we all get so caught up in the title and look at the differences? The Hindu teacher Tushta  said: “Honor the experience and don’t get trapped by the label. ” We all want to be right, but as long as we love one another we all are right.

-Lexi A

“Missions on God”

If others love you, we should love back. The Bible says, ” A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Sadly there is a force in this world called hate which blocks off our love towards certain people. Hatred is our choice though. Now you might be asking,”How can anyone be called a disciple?” My answer is, I don’t know. As long as satan is a power on earth, hate and temptation exist. This means technically no one can possibly be a disciple literally. How about emotionally? In the heart, we are all disciples. In some way or another we all show some form of caring which is a prayer in itself to God screaming, “I care! I can love.” Which I believe in God’s eyes is a form of a disciple. What I took away from our two religious journeys is anyone can follow God, anyone can be a disciple, and everyone is made in God’s image and is his child. A Hindu monk asked that there are many words for sun, but is it the same sun? Yes. Then he asked that if that is true then, is it the same God? Yes. So my question for you is, do you think it is the same god?

-Claire R

“Religion is Not Understanding, It’s the Mystery”

This year we’ve been talking a lot about the religions of the world. Some of these that we have studied so far are Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Baha’i, and of course, Christianity. We have gone on the most amazing journey in our faith through studying these religions. We had an extremely profound conversation on what we had learned so far earlier today. One of the things that stood out the most to me was, as the Buddhist reverend said, “Religion is a beautiful thing until people get involved.” I completely agree with this because we, as humans, are not perfect, and we tend to corrupt just about everything we do, whether we realize it or not. Amazingly, many of the religious leaders agreed that we all worship the same God. Studying this in a Christian school is controversial to many people, but it has brought me so much closer to God. After all, who are we to try to stuff God in a box. The mystery of God is what keeps you wondering and striving to get closer to him.

-Emma P

“A Greater Understanding”

Over the past couple weeks, we have been learning about other religions to have a greater understanding. We learned about Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Bahai. We wanted to see how similar all of these religions were. There is a great Bible verse in John 13:  34-35 says, ” you are my disciples if you love one another.” This is saying that even if we have different beliefs, we can still love one another if we have a greater understanding of these religions. I now know these religions have many similarities as well as differences, but I now have a greater respect for the six religions. At the core these six religions believe in the same things. For example the belief in one God. Just learning that these six religions all have the same belief in one God really helped me come to peace about going and learning in-depth. I now truly have a greater understanding and respect for these 5 new religions.

I am creative.

I am innovative.

I am Anastasis.

<><><>Abbey K. W<><><>

“Love all”

My takeaway from the pilgrimage can be summarized in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This message goes to every religion out there, if you love one another you are showing the love of God. It doesn’t matter if your religion is strict, laid back, or a mixture of both, if you follow this one rule I believe your set by God for the rest or your life. The Bahá’í faith wants to mix Christianity and other religions in with theirs. Now no one is comfortable with the fact that different religions mixing together, but Bahá’í is willing. Going back to loving one another, it doesn’t matter if you mix religions, but if you really want to be a follower, just love someone for who they are, not for how they dress or what they look like. What I really love about the three monotheistic religions is that even though each religion has a different name for God, they all believe that there is only one God. Just like the pastor said, “Gods gospel is everywhere all the time.” Gospel means good news, so God and everyone else can send good news with any actions that you do. If its loving one another, to praying for someone. Anything can be possible with the love of God.

Live💃

Laugh😆

Love❤

-Micah D

“The lessons of religion”

My takeaway from all of the religions we have been studying is that no matter what religion you are in there is still one God. It’s hard to wrap your mind around on all these different religions, but in the end we can find common ground with one another. The other day we went to a Buddhist temple, Hindu temple, and Bahai temple, each religion taught me something new about life and about their religion. I learned from the Buddhist teacher that not all Buddhist sects meditate and that not all Buddhist believe in the same thing. I asked the lady a question on who she thinks Jesus Christ is and right off the bat she said an excellent teacher, a messenger from God, she even said the son of God. I was so intrigued by the way she described who Jesus was cause not all religions can do that. I also learned that satan isn’t an actually person, that “We all have a different satan inside of us and that it’s just our fears causing the temptations” from the Bahai teacher. The Hindu priest said that “No matter how many names that we call the sun, it’s still the same sun”. He was referring to that no matter how many names God has he is still God. Through my learning of all the different religions I have grown closer to God and as they always say it’s better to have more questions than more answers.

Philippians 4:13

Maddie H 🙂

What we can learn from Google, IDEO and Pixar

|Tenkely|

This weekend I spent some time with incredible innovators at Stanford University to talk about innovation in education.  All walks of life gathered at d.school to discuss problems in education and to propose solutions.

My biggest takeaway: Education needs more design thinking and collaborative concepting at all levels.

Throughout the day we shared stories, created concept maps, brainstormed collaboratively, identified problems in education and prototyped possible solutions.  I love that we didn’t just give answers. We prototyped possible solutions in the prototype lab where we had access to all kinds of great building materials.  We came up with some pretty impressive solutions.  What if schools operated more like this?  If teachers and students worked together as designers.  This is the drive behind Anastasis Academy’s morning inquiry block.  We look at big questions and work on interdisciplinary projects that incorporate a range of subjects and disciplines of learning.

“What if the process of education were as intentionally crafted as the products of education (i.e., we always think about the book report or the final project, but not the path to get there).” (Fast Company)

Schools have a lot to learn from Google, IDEO and Pixar.  These are companies that have created a culture of creativity, play and collaboration.  IDEO mirrors this culture in their physical space.  The space lends itself to creativity and new ideas because the space isn’t overly prescriptive.  Stanford’s d.school was very similar.  Tracks run all over the building where walls of whiteboards can be clipped in and moved around easily.  A writing space wherever and whenever you need one.  Brilliant.  All of the furniture is on wheels, it is easily moved and rearranged based on current needs.  Large wooden Lego-type blocks can be easily moved, arranged and built with for any situation.

I love the philosophies of Pixar, the layout is designed to foster “forced collisions of people”.  Students with different backgrounds, passions and understandings collided in new understandings.  Would forced collisions of people encourage a whole new population of da Vinci thinking?

At Google play is not only encouraged, it is deeply engrained in the culture.  Spaces are flexible and constantly changing and being built.  This is was the case in Stanford’s d.school and I have to say, the instant ability to edit our workspace impacted our thinking.  “Imagine what might happen if students had this same power to edit and make their own spaces within the school environment.” (Fast Company)

I highly recommend the following article from Fast Company “What Schools Can Learn From Google, IDEO, and Pixar.”

The article mentions High Tech High, a collection of charter schools in Southern California led by Larry Rosenstock.  Please take the 14 minutes to watch this great video about High Tech High!  Innovation is education is emerging in pockets all over the world. Anastasis Academy is a part of this innovation!