Friday, July 27, 2018

The Glue of Tradition

Yesterday, as I was helping to create our second annual chocolate potluck on campus, I thought, with any luck, we're creating the traditions that someone will want to upend in 20 years or so.

First, some background:  last year, we had a chocolate potluck that was a contest.  This year, we ditched the contest aspect and decided to do it to celebrate graduation.  We invited grads back, but in my mind, it was really to remind current students of the ultimate goal.

I put out cards with an invitation for people to write a note of congratulations to a grad--and people did.  That made me happy.

I've spent a lot of time in institutions that have long standing traditions--most of us have.  Long standing traditions can be both a blessing and a curse.  It's hard to try something new when people already have annual events that they love dearly.  The calendar will only hold so much, and people increasingly have less time.

It's also hard not to have those traditions--it's made me realize how much societal glue a longstanding tradition can provide.  So I've been trying to create some.  Happily, I'm at a place where I have support for that.

I've been thinking about my attempts to create traditions at work and comparing it to what we do at church.  Right now, at my church, many of the members who had distinct ideas about what we needed to be doing are no longer with us.  We also don't have a lot of the people who once did the work that those traditions required. 

It frees up some much needed space.  But it also means that we need to put some new traditions in place.  Don't we?

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