Our associate lecturer and Chaplain, Rev. Dr. Steve Younger writes:
Through friendships formed at conferences of the ‘International Association for Children’s Spirituality,’ I came into contact with Oblimon (a collective of trainers who promote spirituality within Dutch education) and Stichting Kind (the ‘Child Foundation’ which partly funds Oblimon). Out of our common interests in nurturing spirituality within secular curricula and systems of education, we began to explore areas of cooperation and collaboration. Five years ago, I spoke at the first Dutch Dag van de Kinderspiritualiteit (‘Day for the spirituality of children’) in Arnhem. This event has grown and has been repeated annually since then, in person when possible and online during lockdowns. We are a growing international fellowship and our Dag speakers have come from Curacao, from Malta, from the US, and from the Netherlands.
This year’s conference was on 24th June and was held in the Albertinuum, originally a Dominican Monastery and now a part of the Radbout University in Nijmegen. Teachers of Religious and Moral Education are trained here. Our conference theme this year was ‘Spiritual by Nature.’ The keynote speaker was Dr. Deborah Schein from the USA, an Early Years Educator from Minneapolis, whose focus is on learning about spirituality through encounters with nature. Seminars were led in English by Noel Keating (Ireland) on ‘Meditation and the natural spirituality of the Child’ and Ruth Willis (England) on ‘Spirituality and the Outdoor Space.’ I attended to seminars in Dutch (with some English translation) by Mart Ottenheim on Beleef met heel je lijf (Experiencing [Nature] with all your senses) and Elisabeth Wiersma on Aandachtig aanwezig zijn in de natuur (Being attentively present in Nature). Ity Busstra spoke in Dutch on Alberthe Papma: De natuur dat ben jij (Albert Papma’s philosophy of Nature).
Two years ago, we also created ‘Soul to Soul,’ (here’s a link to CVE Scotland’s resource page for Soul to Soul) an online and print journal for researchers and practitioners with an interest in children’s spirituality. This has also grown, with contributors from many cultures and faiths bonded by a common desire to nurture the spirituality of children and young people. Over 1500 people have read our first issue – a phenomenal number for an academic journal! In its first 20 days online, issue four has already been read by 199 people. I work with an international team of editors: Liesbeth Vroemen and Rosanne de Vries (both from Oblimon), Katherine Carpenter (England) and Deborah Schein (USA). We also work closely with Jos Roemer (Stichting Kind). It has been a privilege to contribute articles to ‘Soul to Soul’ which highlight the possibilities for spiritual development within Scotland’s ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ and which focus on the opportunities arising from Chaplaincy within Scotland’s schools.
If you’d like to find out more about SBC’s Time for Reflection module which explores Chaplaincy within the Scottish school system and is lead by Rev. Dr. Steve Younger then please go here.