Desert Notes January 25, 2024
It’s been a whirlwind since our construction began right after Christmas (again) and I am relieved to be back in our Sanctuary for Sunday services, even though we are still putting the finishing touches on it. We had a New Participant class this last weekend, and I expect to be celebrating at least a couple of new members in February! As the Board sorts through nearly 30 pages of notes from the 110 participants in our Listening Sessions at the beginning of the year, I want to reflect back to you that there was both depth and breadth of what we heard from folks. The reality of serving a UU congregation at this moment in time is that we are serving very diverse needs and engaging a very wide range of ideas. The complexity of this reality is sometimes easy to lose track of unless we step back to really take it in. We have, sometimes, competing needs and ideas. And while it is the job of your leaders and staff to try to sort this out, it would be a modern miracle if we were able to consistently meet and engage all of those needs and ideas all of the time in a way that avoids conflict, challenges, or mistakes. In a community like ours, which is committed to pluralism, we all need to sort these out and to practice “turning to wonder,” which we invited you to do in our listening sessions. We also need to practice listening, making amends, restoring relationships and starting over. I include myself in this “we!”
I’ve used these phrases to help us think about good practices in a pluralistic community: Give grace, make space (make room for people to do things differently, make mistakes, be human); Move at the Speed of Trust (recognize that relationships take time, energy, and commitment and the quality of these impact the amount of trust we have to move forward together); Never in Doubt, Frequently Wrong (meaning, we often make the mistake of certainty when we actually have missed someone else’s experience or knowledge…this is a reminder to act with humility and to be willing to learn where we have missed something important to someone else). Some of you have asked me why we are engaging in conflict work with Rev. Sam. You’ve wondered, “is there something wrong with us?” No. There’s something missing in our larger culture! We don’t learn adequate skills to navigate the complexity of pluralism well (needed for the larger project of democracy, too!) Because pluralism means differences, and navigating differences means we will bump into each other and make mistakes in our relationships–we will encounter places of conflict. My hope is that all of us–myself included!–will learn better skills for navigating pluralism and difference in our congregation and in the world around us. Will we ever be done? Probably not! But we will get better. I can already see this happening. I hope to see many of you at the workshops this weekend. Thanks for the many ways you are showing up to this work, asking questions, and learning together.
I invite you to check out these offerings from Side with Love’s annual 30 Days of Love Campaign.
Photo credit: By Piotr Mlodozeniec – http://www.coexistence.art.museum/coex/works/Piotr_Mlodozeniec.asp, Public Domain