This past Saturday marked the first day for our study of Craig Miller’s book “Seven Values for Boomer Spirituality.” We had a delicious breakfast at Jennie’s in St. Marys and, while we had to contend with some background noise, I think everyone was able to share their thoughts and ideas. We also enjoyed a beautiful walk beside the falls and along the old railroad bridge that overlooks this picturesque town.
After filling out an introductory quiz to see if we really qualified as a Boomer, we discussed some of the key events in the US that had had an impact on many Canadian Boomers, especially the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, and Watergate. We also looked at some of the major events taking place in Canada during the sixties and seventies, like Expo ’67, the rise of Trudeaumania, and the FLQ Crisis. One of the first-wave Boomers talked about the excitement of attending a packed auditorium at Western University to hear the charismatic Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Others recalled trips to Expo ’67 or how they felt when the Trudeau government enacted the War Measures Act during the October Crisis of 1970.
What quickly became very clear is that we did not all experience the same things in the same way. For example, depending on whether we were an early Boomer, a mid-wave Boomer or part of the third wave of Boomers, different events played different roles in our developing consciousness and had differing impacts on us. No surprise there. However, age was not the only factor that was key. One woman talked about being raised in remote Prince Edward Island without a television and by rather strict Baptist parents. Much of the euphoria, restlessness and turmoil of the sixties did not even touch her. My own experience was very different, having been raised as I was on the Windsor-Detroit border with four major TV channels (a huge selection back then!) and the continuous barrage of American news. For me, as well as for some of those raised in nearby London, bomb drills were a regular feature of school life.
Regional differences were significant as well when it came to discussing the FLQ Crisis and the kidnappings of British diplomat James Cross and Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte. Living in southwestern Ontario I experienced the War Measures Act as an extreme violation of our civil rights and a symbol of a broken society, while another woman in our group who had grown up in Montreal at the time saw this act as a much needed measure in a society that had grown very frightening, violent and which was out of control. Her friend was engaged to marry Pierre Laporte’s son. Naturally she and many other Quebecois were shattered when Laporte’s murdered body was found in the trunk of a car after James Cross had been returned to his loved ones safe and alive.
For at least two of our members, one who grew up in Northern Ireland and another who was raised in Scotland, the IRA, Margaret Thatcher and the Brighton Bombing on October 12, 1984, had a far greater impact.
After spending some time discussing how each of us experienced brokenness in our generation, one woman observed that nowhere does Miller give us a definition of what he means by “spirituality”. She also reminded us that our spirituality is born out of the brokenness of the Cross. In the breaking of the bread, she said, we experience Christ’s self-giving love and are made whole. Thus it is through brokenness that we find meaning and wholeness.
This coming Saturday, July 15th, we will be meeting in London and discussing chapter two “Loneliness”, which Miller identifies as the second major spiritual reality for Boomers after “Brokenness”. We look forward to another lovely walk, this time on the trails in Stoneybrook.