Monday, September 19, 2011

As I'm sitting down to start writing Sunday's sermon...

I'm struck by how much fear influences our behavior. Even me, Ms. Kitty the Dauntless Proprietress of the Saloon and Road Show. I am often (always?) on guard against the possibility that I may be wounded somehow by another's behavior or opinions or ideas. I pre-defend myself in subtle and not so subtle ways.

I pre-purchase pain, as my mentor the Rev. Robert T. Latham has so aptly put it. I expect the worst while wishing for the best. It's probably an outcome of my history, but my history doesn't begin to compare with that of others who have been far more traumatized by life than I.

Walking Bush Point Road this morning, enjoying the crisp air and thinking about conversations I've had lately, I suddenly was gripped by the realization that we humans are all afraid, we are all in pain, and our behavior reflects our desire not to experience any more pain. Consequently we overreact to opinions and ideas that are not our own, we may even demonize those who are different, and we personalize chance remarks that seem to reflect our fears. I'll bet some of you right now are wondering if I'm talking about you! See what I mean?

I'm not talking about you, I'm really talking about me. But you are welcome to wear these shoes too if they fit.

Anyhow, the Covenant of Right Relations that my congregation voted in last winter will form the centerpiece of this sermon and as I re-read it, I recognized that, though this document may seem general and idealistic, it is a true effort to deal with the pain of human living, that pain often connected to conflict and discomfort between people who share a community.

I print it here for your perusal. It was the effort of a task force who looked at the CRRs of several congregations and used the inspiration received from those documents to create this one.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island

Covenant of Right Relations

Love is the spirit of this congregation and service its practice. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek truth in love, and to help one another.

Our promises:
¥ We warmly welcome all.
¥ We speak with honesty, respect and kindness.
¥ We listen compassionately.
¥ We express gratitude for the service of others.
¥ We honor and support one another in our life journeys, in times of joy, need and struggle.
¥ We embrace our diversity and the opportunity to share our different perspectives.
¥ We address our disagreements directly and openly, and see conflict through to an authentic resolution.
¥ We serve our spiritual community with generosity and joy, honoring our commitments.
¥ We strive to keep these promises, but when we fall short, we forgive ourselves and others, and begin again in love.

PS. Our congregation mulled it over, discussed it thoroughly, and voted it in last winter.


Mile High Pixie said...

I like it! It sounds like a good personal covenant of right relations as well as one for a community. Listening compassionately, expressing gratitude, and addressing disagreements honestly and openly with an aim towards authentic resolution--good goals to have regardless of scale of the entity declaring this.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Pixie, I'll pass along your kind words!