Monday, July 24, 2006

Eliot Eleemosynary

Isn't that a great word? Unfortunately, it doesn't have much to do with Eliot Institute, the PNWD's UU summer family camp, but I've always wanted to use it somehow. It means (in case you always wanted to know) "of or dependent on charity". Maybe I should change the order of the words, because Eliot Institute is somewhat dependent on the beneficence of generous donors. But the word looks more like a noun than an adjective, so, since everyone else seems willing and able to change the meaning and usage of language, it is now temporarily a noun meaning "generous accounting of Eliot Institute, July 2006".

July Eliot was a splendiferous gathering of UUs from all over the West, with a sprinkling of grandkids imported from faraway places such as New Jersey, AND the momentous presence of Gini Courter, UUA moderator, our speaker, and her partner the Rev. Charlotte Cowtan, of Michigan.

Gini's topic for the week was "Seven Habits of Highly Effective UUs" and it was a wowser, in my opinion, partly because of Gini's presence and wit but also because it gave us a chance to chew over some of the ways we do things in church. It's one thing to chew on these things within our own congregations, but to think about them with people from all kinds of UU churches and even un-churched folks was especially good.

Gini's an extremely bright and perceptive speaker with a sense of humor that won't quit and laughter was a major feature of her morning presentations. Some wished for heavy intellectual commentary, but hey, how heavy and intellectual do you want to get in a locale like Seabeck, Washington, on Hood Canal with a front row seat at the Olympic mountain skyline? And, how heavy and intellectual is it reasonable to make seven habits like these? I mean, really, this isn't brain surgery---it's more important than that. It's life!

The Seven Habits of Effective UUs, according to Gini:
1. Live with integrity.
2. Be a servant.
3. Be humble.
4. Practice generosity.
5. Build together.
6. Choose hope.
7. Have a purpose.

Of course, we all did our best to examine minutely the meanings of every word in each habit in order to squeeze out all the possible variations on a theme, but in my small group, made up of 9 folks from all over the district, we had a fine time pooling our thoughts and experiences with each of the seven habits. We were a congenial band and enjoyed our discussion time at the edge of the Seabeck lagoon, watching ducks and birds and even a scraggly little coyote pup who wandered past us one morning, nose in the air as if to say "I'm not really lost, I'm just out here exploring and I know exactly where my mother is, so you better leave me alone."

It was a great week, but I'm glad to be back home. I am an extroverted introvert and need my time with people followed by my times of solitude.

I'll be publishing my thoughts about the Seven Habits as I re-enter the "real" world. Stay tuned, if you're interested.

1 comment:

Julie in Boise said...

Hi Kit! Thanks for your visit to my blog, too.

I really enjoyed our week at Eliot. For me, one sure measure of Gini's success is that I have easily memorized her 7 Habits (and I don't memorize things easily ...). Now to the harder work of putting them into practice!