Transforming the Journey:
Mentoring Lives Through Magic and Myth

Mentoring Environments

Network of Belonging

This first criterion, a network of belonging, is an essential quality of any environment hopeful of making a difference in peoples' lives. Creating a network of belonging is the starting point from which a deep sense of security emerges, roles for involvement are discovered, and initiation into community membership is made possible. These are all conditions common to powerful learning environments.21 According to Parks, "A mentoring community is a network of belonging that constitutes a spacious home for the potential and vulnerability of the imagination in practical, tangible terms." It serves both "to reassure and to encourage the development of inner-dependence."22 A sense of belonging is requisite to any kind of engagement that challenges and inspires community members; its absence jeopardizes the very activities that lead to the kind of risk-taking and exploration so essential to learning. The journey of all seekers must begin with a fundamental sense of belonging and feeling welcomed. I understand that this may be second nature to communities like yours, committed to hospitalitas, but nonetheless it bears saying that such a presumption is worth revisiting time and again as communities evolve.

Next (Big Enough Questions)

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21Carney Strange and James Banning, Educating by Design: Creating Campus Learning Environments that Work (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 2001). return

22Parks 135-36. return

© 2003 by The American Benedictine Academy / www.osb.org/aba/