Last year, I wrote about how we were moving Joys and Sorrows before the service, to be its own small ritual, "Morning Blessings."
A year later ... I love it.
We've never achieved that "critical mass" of people coming to it. Maybe once we have a minister, if they are involved -- that might make a difference there.
Because we only have a handful of people that regularly attend, we considered dropping it. First, though, I talked to the people who did come.
They were pretty passionate on the subject. And I realized something I hadn't before -- that for them, this is a spiritual practice. Sitting in the stillness, sharing or not sharing, hearing about the joys or sorrows in other lives, focusing their own thoughts and energies on others' concerns ... it was, and is, a spiritual practice. And it is different from joys and sorrows -- there is a liberation in knowing that the only people there want to be.
They were sad when I broached the idea of removing it.
Then I talked to those who didn't come on a regular basis, but came sporadically. That was perhaps even more eye-opening. Again and again, what I heard was, "If I have a need, I want it to be there." It wasn't something they felt compelled to go to every Sunday, but when they needed it, it served an important purpose.
So ... since there was really no downside to it (except that musicians and speakers need to be done with setting up by a quarter til the main service, which, of course, they should be anyway), we kept it.
The one thing that was missing was a tangible moment of community, where we were all connected. So I added in something that we had always liked about joys and sorrows, about a sorrow divided and a joy multiplied.
So here it is. If you want to try something different, why not give this a try?
Good morning. Welcome to this time of community and contemplation, where we may share the joys and the sorrows going on in our lives. It is right that we pause to remember all who need love and support; who are ill or in pain, either in body or in spirit; who are lonely or have been wronged, and it is a blessing to share in each others' celebrations and happiness.
Please enjoy the experience of sitting in restorative silence until you are moved to light a candle, sharing your joy or sorrow if you feel comfortable doing so.
(Group shares joys and sorrows. Because we've been doing this for a year, there are always a few moments of silence between people getting up. If you were just beginning this, you might add in something about, "Please allow a few breaths of silence after a person speaks, so that we may focus our attention and energy on his or her concern.")
Let us pause to dwell inward. Spirit of Life, please meet us where we are in the ways we move forward in our lives, and bring our world forward with us. Let us open our minds and hearts to a place of quiet, to a silent prayer for the healing of pain, and the soft, gentle coming of love. Let us observe a moment of silence and let our thoughts be with those who have spoken or been spoken about, here this morning. (moment of silence)
Please say with me: “May a sorrow shared be a sorrow divided,”
“And a joy shared, a joy multiplied.”
Amen, Blessed Be.