Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just Sayin' - President's Column February 2011

Find Your Practice at the Fellowship

Most of us know that being or becoming a Unitarian Universalist is not a matter of accepting a particular creed or doctrine. What is it that we are doing then? In my view, our Fellowship as well as the larger church, if I may call it that, supports spiritual practice. For me, that means we act upon and commit to a practice (or set of practices) that gives our lives meaning. Generally speaking, one’s "practice" does not have to originate from inside the walls of our Fellowship, but developing and nurturing that practice is much easier when you have others supporting you. I offer the following set of practices for members and friends – especially those new to us – to choose from.

Meditation is back. At our Fellowship, we offer an expanding range of spiritual paths. Do you want to quiet that inner chatter? Do you want to learn more about meditation? Do you find your solo meditation practice difficult? Join the Sangha of UU Buddhists on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm. Eleven people attended the first meditation session on January 20th. These are eclectic/experimental UU "Buddhists" who intend to adopt and adapt Buddhist traditions selectively and pragmatically. After all, a meditation practice should be grounded in everyday life. The goal is to take the fruits of that practice back to the chaos of our lives and see what works. For more information, please contact Drew Brisby (drewandem@verizon.net), the Sangha coordinator.

Go to the Center. Sunday worship is the center of most spiritual paths. Ideally, contemporary worship services provide members and friends with strong feelings of community and celebration. Hopefully, the service generates the energy and inspiration that people need to live our UU values of truth, justice, and love on a daily basis. Granted, not every Sunday service can attain that perfection. Nevertheless, members of the worship committee aspire to that ideal. Planning, coordinating, and implementing Sunday services is clearly a practice that can bring meaning to one’s own life, but especially to the lives of others. The worship committee meets at 7pm on the second Tuesday of every month. If you’re not quite ready or able to commit to this practice, simply join as a worship consultant. You can offer your assistance on particular Sundays or visit with the worship committee during a Tuesday meeting to experience the practice before you pledge your time and energy. For more information, please contact Gerry Veeder (gvk0001@verizon.net).

Practice with Small Groups. Although regular attendance at Sunday worship services can bring joy and meaning, some of us prefer a spiritual practice that is more intimate. We want a practice that connects us more directly to and more deeply with others. If so, small group ministry is the practice for you. This is not a new concept, but it is a new undertaking at our Fellowship. Small group ministry is a group of six to ten persons who meet regularly (once or twice a month) to explore new ways of sharing and being together spiritually. Please know that these are not encounter groups, nor a form of sensitivity training. Rather, the objective is to create a setting where members can support and encourage one another on their spiritual paths. For more information, please contact smallgroups@dentonuuf.org.

Practice Hospitality. I’m not the first to note that welcoming people into our Fellowship can be a spiritual practice. Reading David Rynick’s article "The Spiritual Practice of Hospitality", one realizes that "we are always practicing something." As a practice, hospitality helps each of us realize the first of our seven UU principles – the inherent worth and dignity of each person. This practice can take a variety of forms that includes assisting with the Visitor’s Welcome Cart before services, preparing and serving refreshments for coffee and conversation, and inviting others to connect with the Fellowship through lunch bunch, religious education, or special events. In choosing hospitality as your practice, you are forming an intention and accepting a responsibility for creating the kind of Fellowship you want to be a part of. We have several persons at the Fellowship that practice hospitality. To learn how you can develop your own practice, I would encourage you to contact one of our hospitality leaders: Amber Briggle, (earthgoddess23@hotmail.com), Carol Coulter (ccoulter3@verizon.net), or Wendy Leung (wleung50@hotmail.com).

Choose your Practice. You probably realize my examples do not represent every option available to those seeking their "practice" at the Fellowship. There are clearly other means of practice for you to choose from. Want more suggestions? Please contact me (president@dentonuuf.org) or Rev. Pam Wat (minister@dentonuuf.org). In closing, I realize any cynics reading this piece will interpret it as a mere call for more volunteers. This simply is not the case. I know that many of our members and friends have embraced forms of practice that do not originate within the Fellowship. That’s clearly a good thing. At the same time, our Fellowship offers a rich variety of practices that many people fail to notice. I invite you to look and try one for yourself.