Monday, July 10, 2006

Arbitrary Peacebang: All that's right and not within our churches

Two great posts today from UU bloggers, one touching on what I think is so TERRIFIC in our churches and one that is so detrimental.

First, the detrimental:

Brilliant post, exposing feelings, humility at perhaps being guilty herself, and big picture view of how this affects our denomination. Like PB, I am sure that I, too, have jumped "immediately to correct their credulous ignorance, greeting their enthusiasm with Important Information and establishing myself, not as a sister seeker, but as an Authority On the Subject."

Likewise, I have been in the position of working through my thoughts on something, only to have someone quash my sharing with condescension.

And, Arbitray hits on what I am passionate about in our churches. Covenant groups.

I have been a member of our church's "Spiritual Parenting" covenant group for about 7 years. During that time, the group has grown from 3 couples to so many we need two groups. (Not all couples.) We have seen each other through a stillbirth, a divorce, several births, group members leaving and new ones joining, books as varied as the Dr. Phil family book to Voluntary Simplicity with Children to Stephen Covey's family book.

And oh yes ... the baby daughter of one of our families got cancer.

The friends that I have waxed rhapsodic about have come from this group. Without the group, I think we would have become friends, though I doubt we would achieved the level of friendship, of intimacy, that comes by being a member of such a group.

Women usually outnumber men in joining covenant groups, but this group has shown how much men need such a group, too. They have created their own relationships, as they share what it is to be a man, a father, and a husband in modern times. The Husband frequently says, "I like church ... but I *need* our SP group."

And you know, PeaceBang's post and Arbitrary's fit together. Because in a good, well-facilitated covenant group, you have the space to explore your spirituality, without being patronized. In our case, it is part of our covenant, that we are here to learn from each other, but not to teach each other. Perhaps that doesn't make sense. But we all understand it.

We all know that perhaps the biggest purpose of a covenant group is to give us the chance to learn to listen.

From that ... springs understanding, spring relationships, springs the kind of friends who show up at my daughter's hospital room two days after she is diagnosed with cancer, with clean clothes, avocado burgers and their hearts.

and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana, solitary, in a wide flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life, without a friend, a lover, near,
I know very well I could not.

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