Covenant is the gift of leaning into each other’s arms…arms that hold and comfort and arms that also push us forward to take the next leap into justice. It all starts, though, with turning to our neighbor. It gains traction with our curiosity about their story. It gets deeper as we discover the subtler nuances of our own story. It goes full monty when we together lay bare the pile of hurts along the way, and it clothes itself in glory when we find connection and healing and hope in the new patterns of community that make space for us all. Essay titled, Telling Our Story, by Parisa Parsa from Turning Point: Essays on a New Unitarian Universalism, Fredric Muir, editor.
The source of my greatest joy during these first few months of ministry at MSUS is hearing your stories. I look forward to the years ahead and time to get to know each of you better and to listen to the stories that inform your lives and spirit. This joyful task is not mine alone—it is a central part of this faith community. It is through stories that we come to discover and make meaning, we find common ground and differences, and we build deep connections across the congregation.
We vary greatly in terms of our own belief in what can or should be shared publicly and what is best kept in the silence of our own hearts and intimate relationships. What I have heard over and over again, is that when we risk being open and authentic with each other new (and often unexpected) bonds begin emerge. Those who were just acquaintances at church have an opportunity to become dear friends.
This year, we have created a number of programs that are built on a framework of time together as a full group coupled with small group conversation or practice. As you enter programs focused on learning about the history of race, the lived experience of being over 60 years old, spiritual practices, or reflecting on the political climate you were raised, the hope is that you will be curious about other’s stories and begin to discover the nuances of your own.
This November I begin a seven month clergy series in Congregational-Based Spiritual Direction which was launched by staff of the MidAmerican Region of the UUA. The series includes three days of intensive learning in November, January, and May. Several of you have spoken about a longing to go deeper into defining your theology and tending to your spirit. I imagine this program will provide tools to create an initial and sustained model of such a practice congregation-wide. Colleagues from other UU churches shared that the congregations they serve were transformed when they began to implement what they learned from this course.
MSUS is a storied place with solid roots and leadership. As our story turns to the next fifty years, may we “we find connection and healing and hope in the new patterns of community that make space for us all.”
With Love, Rev. Laura