In our Unitarian community we each have the opportunity to lead services or gatherings. We have a minister but he only leads one service a month as we share him with another community. I am lucky in that I am quite active am often the first to know that we have a gap to fill. Our Monday gathering tomorrow had no-one to lead it. And so it was that I jumped at the chance to lead this. I want to explore the issue of safety and whether our faith communities can offer us a feeling of safety when we feel unsafe in other parts of our life.
It has been difficult to find much material using the words safe and safety - I then tried to search for things about protection. It was only when I searched on words such as haven and sanctuary that I found more material. They hare both such lovely words. I recognise that our Meeting House, even without people in it, feels like my own personal sanctuary. During the week my car was blocked in outside the Meeting House. I had parked briefly to show someone round the building prior to renting a room. We rent our parking spaces out and the lady who uses it had returned in the ten minutes that I was in the building. I decided that even though I could ask her to move her car that I would stay and do some cleaning. I put on some swing music and spent a couple of hours cleaning and singing. I felt very safe and very happy.
Yesterday I was on our monthly walk. We chatted and laughed. We gently ribbed each other about recent events. And I felt safe. This haven of community really works for me. I feel held and cradled. If we accept some of the work that Abraham Maslow did on the hierarchy of needs (although it has been much criticised please bear with me) then we will appreciate that if we feel unsafe we will not feel secure enough to move forward. For those of use who feel a strong pull to developing our spirituality we need to ensure that we have a safe place, physically, and amongst people that we trust. We need to co-create this safe space so that others may feel equally safe.
Our spiritual growth is not always about new and exciting experiences but is also about providing safe space and time: providing sanctuary. It is also about the development of trusting relationships so that not only does the physical space feel safe but the people that fill that space can be relied upon to provide us with protective love when we feel vulnerable and in need.