Transforming the Journey:
Mentoring Lives Through Magic and Myth
Thus far we have considered the nature of the journey, the sequence of events, and the skills and activities associated with mentoring. Now I want to turn for a moment to what I find to be the more interesting question in relation to our topic this morning. What characterizes a mentoring community? This is a particularly appropriate question to ask at a gathering of individuals who have committed themselves to become who they are in the presence of others. As I approach this material I have a feeling that I am moving into territory that is very familiar to all of you. In many ways, the Rule of Benedict that guides you, and the long history and culture that describe what you are called to do, have created already a compelling framework, if not a master template, for mentoring in our society.
Parks reminds us that "Mentoring communities play an essential role in the formation of meaning and purpose throughout adulthood." The mentoring community provides "a context in which a new, more adequate imagination of life and work can be composed, anchored in a sense of we."20 In her recent book Big Questions, Worthy Dreams, she devotes attention to the kind of environment thought to promote and encourage the human meaning-making journey we recognize as the object of mentoring. In her analysis, these are mentoring communities that recognize, support, challenge, and inspire those within them. Her prescriptive criteria offer a helpful guide for evaluating what we do as mentors in settings where the pursuit of meaning making in its broadest dimension and significance might occur. I think about these hallmarks when I consider various policies and practices of graduate education. I invite you to think about them in the context of your own communities. Let me focus briefly on each one.