Gratitude for Growth: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. This week, dialoguer Donna Goldfeder shares what she is most grateful for about her experience with The Church Lab dialogues. Enjoy!

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Donna Goldfeder is new to dialogue at The Church Lab this year.  She and her husband, Gene, connect remotely from their home in Pennsylvania.  Donna has an MEd in Counseling and served as Director of Career Services at Lehigh University for almost 25 years.  She and Gene are thoroughly enjoying retirement.

When I first became interested in participating in the dialogues offered by The Church Lab, I was seeking self-exploration.   As hoped, I have found guidance for the self-exploration that I sought …and so much more! One of the guidelines of dialogue is that participants should seek to understand before seeking to be understood.  Taking this to heart I soon learned that while I was on a personal journey for growth, I was now part of a group that was seeking greater understanding for all.

The group immediately made me feel welcome and accepted.  I connect to the group virtually through the computer from Pennsylvania.  The first time I connected to dialogue I was concerned that it would be difficult to form a personal connection with the group from such a distance, but that has not been the case at all.  Every time dialogue meets, I feel the warmth and acceptance of the room over all the miles.

Dialogue is an experience that promotes spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth.  Every topic we discuss is challenging and our exploration of the topic always goes deeper than I anticipated. For example, when we discussed the topic of Science and Religion I expected we’d discuss how people feel about evolution vs. creation.  And we did.  But the discussion also led to how often our religious writings predicted later scientific findings, such as how rituals like hand washing can promote a healthier more fulfilling life or how dietary laws often focus on restrictions on foods or substances that are now known to be addictive or potentially harmful.  Every time we meet I learn so much!

That is an example of intellectual growth, but the spiritual and emotional growth I’ve experienced is even more fulfilling.  As I hear the others share their experiences and how their faiths have helped them work through issues, it creates an atmosphere where I can explore and accept my own flaws and can start to resolve some of my own life challenges.  I hope that the experiences, insights and perspectives that I share help others in the group to explore the topics and their own issues more fully.  I didn’t anticipate that the group could be like a “support group”, but it really does provide emotional and spiritual support.

I am very grateful for the acceptance and support of the dialogue group.  I thank The Church Lab for creating such a warm and welcoming place where personal and group growth can thrive.  And, I especially appreciate that The Church Lab had the foresight to utilize today’s technology to include those of us that attend remotely.

My experiences at dialogue have truly been a blessing.