Monday, 27 June 2011

Storming once more

We had a short workshop over the weekend looking at publicity and the like. There were six of us - several people had had problems getting there. We all knew each other and as far as I know liked each other and yet ... At times it seemed like we were meeting for the first time - storming away - trying to establish ourselves in the group, sometimes not listening and at times seeming to fall out over minor details. Thankfully we ended with agreement and with some actions.

I could have been frustrated by process. Perhaps I should have structured it. But my experience at previous workshops is that people like an input into the agenda. Perhaps I had not been calm enough at the beginning - it was my birthday and I had had several emails, Facebook messages, texts and phone calls before I left home and then two en route about the workshop. One was when I was trying to buy a paper and one was as I was parking the car. Of the six people, four thought it started at 9.30 a.m., one at 9.00 a.m. and one at 10.00 a.m. And at least two of the people were in the midst of some work-based and/or home-based stress. So perhaps ever-wonder that we were all a bit jumpy and not quite meshing together.

We can always look to the negatives and ask what went wrong? Or we can look to the positives and think, with all the confusion and the tired individuals, we actually ended as friends and we ended with achievements - which was an achievement in itself. Things aren't always going to run smoothly and there are times when we begin to doubt ourselves and our communities, but this is how life is. If we are to be authentic then sometimes that's not pretty!

But what it certainly does remind me is that I will take nothing for granted. Every day (or at least a few times a week) I have to consciously work on myself and on my relationships. Whilst there is a time for negativity and despair, that time must not be the end but the beginning of doing things just a little bit better.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Talking of the individual and healing

People can get lost in communities - they can be quite happy being unnoticed but not always so. And anyway what is community for but to recognise the other - in a safe and loving environment?

On Monday night I attended a very inspirational midsummer's eve gathering at the Meeting House. This was not a special do but one of our monthly meditational gatherings where we take a less structured approach, more music, fewer words and, by and large, no hymn singing. The woman leading it has been with us a couple of years and has led services before. Yesterday evening's was a good one - wonderful words and a great sense of spiritual connectedness in these and the music. On walking out into the rain she said something along the lines of, 'I think that I am getting used to speaking publicly."

For those of us who will speak to anyone, at any time, about practically anything, it is hard to imagine how some people fear public speaking. I remember winning a vote to attend a union conference (I was in my late twenties) when the local shop steward had failed to get enough votes. He asked if I would give my place to him because he was proposing a motion and I would have to do this if he wasn't there. Talking to 3,000 - bring it on! He would have been more successful if he'd said that I wouldn't be allowed to speak. But for some the idea of speaking to others, as when leading a service, can be unthinkable. Just as some people won't wash up - but perhaps that's not about fear :)

We can offer support and hand-holding and then be amazed and delighted at the result. The ancient link between 'church' and 'psychology' had been lost by the twentieth century but in the latter part of the century with ideas like holism it has crept back in. We recognise the difficulties that separating out parts of ourselves can lead to. We are not offering psychotherapy but a place to address our own demons - sharing them with others and working towards either overcoming them or accommodating them more comfortably.

For many our communities are not just spiritual homes but places where we can bring ourselves for 'healing'. The healing comes about through our relationships and how we support each other in moving towards being that person that we were born to be. It seems to me that this is one of the prime responsibilities for us as spiritual community members - both in supporting others and also in being brave in looking as honestly as we can at ourselves and being bold in committing to personal change.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Parenting our communities

Gosh I've been busy! And I love it - I love having things to do, places to go to and people to see. I love to meet new people and perhaps above all I like to be useful. I am not alone in needing to be useful. As our lives shift and re-shape we need to find new ways to be useful. As a parent we need to be mindful of our children's changing needs if we are to maintain our usefulness.

My daughter is now 18 and driving. She can cook her own meals if need be and doesn't need much apart from money and a place to sleep - well that's in the physical sense. What she does really need is a mum who will listen, talk, give advice, provide support, calm things down, crank things up and generally love her well as she prepares to move onto the next phase of her life. Change brings with it excitement and anxiety and usually a sense of leaving something behind as well as moving towards something new. I find myself listening to my daughter both about the excitement of moving on but also about the sadness of leaving her childhood and her existing life behind - it will never be the same again.

This is very much like communities. We can sense that we are moving onto the next stage of our development - so who is there for us who will listen, talk, give advice ...? Who will be a parent to our community? Who will listen to our fears of change, be with us to experience the thrill of the new and the sadness at leaving some things behind?

To some extent we do this ourselves and if we have a minister who can take a more objective view then that can be very helpful. Perhaps there is someone in the District or nationally who can be there. If we are to feel confident in our development I suspect that many of us would like some wise counsel and a steady hand to help us on our way. How can we make this happen for each other?