March 24, 2017

Soul Connections is a Missouri Conference retreat that aims to help clergy and laity take spiritual conversations deeper than they have an opportunity to do in their typical day-to-day life. It is structured so the participants have an opportunity to share stories, listen and connect more fully with the presence of Christ. 
    
The events have frequently featured keynote speakers who are spiritual leaders outside of the United Methodist Church. In February Rabbi Dany Ruttenburg was a speaker for the Soul Connections retreat that was conducted at First UMC in Jefferson City. 
    
Ruttenburg spoke on spiritual practices and, drawing on her own life, parenting as a spiritual practice. She had her first baby nine months after she became a Rabi, and suddenly found the routine of her former spiritual practices difficult to maintain. She also found the copious materials she had read on spiritual practices came 
up short. 
    
“The silence on parenting is deafening,” she said. Ruttenburg started considering how parenting itself can be a spiritual practice.
    
“Prayer, meditation, yoga, journaling all are considered to be spiritual practices. Why not parenting?” she said. “I started to allow more space in my spiritual life for fluidity.”
    
She defined a spiritual practice as something you do again and again on a daily basis that brings you closer to God. “I think a lot of parents don’t know that the work that they do can take them to wherever they need to go,” she said. 
    
Ruttenburg now has three children. She finds that modeling spiritual practices can be more effective than lecturing. 
    
“If you force your kids to study the Torah, they will force their kids to study the Torah, and no one learns anything. If you sit and study Torah on your own, they will come and sit beside you,” she said. 
    
The next Soul Connections retreat will August 28-30, at the Lake of the Ozarks. Heartland District Superintendent Jim Simpson will be the keynote speaker. 
    
For more from Danya Ruttenburg, go to http://danyaruttenberg.net, where several books that she has written are available.