Trip fosters religious discovery, tolerance

Linfield students will visit Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Trappist abbey, on a Spiritual Discovery Trip, co-sponsored by the Chaplain’s Office and Linfield Activities Board, on Oct. 9.
The Trappist Abbey is regularly visited during the trips because of its location in the Yamhill Valley and an existing relationship between the college and a contact at the abbey who assists with classes at Linfield.
The abbey trip also addresses a widespread unfamiliarity with monastic life.
“Most people have heard of monks but don’t have a sense of their life. The trip blows away their preconceived notions of monastic life,” David Massey, chaplain and assistant professor of religious studies, said. “While the monks live a life of seclusion, they’re very engaged in the world.”
Massey said Spiritual Discovery Trips such as this aim to promote the understanding of diverse religious traditions among students.
“The more experience we have in other traditions, the more we understand them and can break down and the better we can understand our own traditions,” Massey said.
The trips have a long tradition at Linfield, although current students may not be familiar with them.
“We started doing the trips about eight years ago,” Massey said. “They seem new because last year we had struggles getting them lined up. But this year, we’re back on track.”
Following the trip to the Trappist Abbey, the next Spiritual Discovery Trip will head to the Muslim Educational Trust in Portland on Oct. 30.
Past destinations have included Jewish synagogues, Islamic mosques, Sikh temples, Hindu temples and African-American pentecostal services.
“A lot of the strife in the world is in some manner related to religion, often because we don’t understand religions,” Massey said.
With the understanding of other religious traditions comes the discovery of common interests, values and goals despite doctrinal differences and the ability to recognize common humanity and value the spiritual yearning of others, Massey said.
“It allows us to appreciate our differences — to be true to who [we] are but open to dialogue and finding common ground,” he said.
In the past, Massey recalled, students told him they were going to take Lent, a 40-day period for penance, seriously by spending time in prayer and fasting.
Their decision was made after witnessing Muslim students’ commitments to the same discipline during the holy month of Ramadan.
“They became clearer in their own discipleship and practices by witnessing this,” Massey said. “They didn’t have to agree, but value and respect [other traditions].”
He also stressed the importance of religion at school.
“At Linfield we don’t ask you to hang up your religion at the door,” Massey said. “We want you to be anchored in your traditions and true to yourself. We ask you to be respectful and have this [sort of value].”
Spiritual Discovery Trips are free. Students can sign up for them in the Campus Information Center or contact the Chaplain’s office for more information.

Gabi Nygaard/Staff reporter
Gabi Nygaard can be reached at

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