Connection Affirmation 10-2-2022
Reverend Margret spoke last week about the process of renewal represented by the Jewish Days of Awe, a time when Jews reflect on their lives and relationships, strive to mend those that are broken, and renew their commitment to a life of “integrity and wholeness.” It’s a tall order, this self-reflection, designed to help people realign themselves with their highest aspirations.
In this fast-paced, overstimulating world, it’s easy to get so consumed in daily tasks (not to mention emails!) that we lose sight of the bigger picture of who – and how – we aspire to be. In the urge to feel productive, to cross things off our “to-do” lists, we can forget to tend those relationships that matter most. We need to be intentional about checking in to see if we are still on track with the promises we have made to ourselves.
For this reason, many UU congregations have annual “covenant renewal Sundays” on which they revisit their congregational covenants to make sure that they still reflect where the congregation wants to go, and to help members renew their dedication to the promises they have made. Similarly, last spring’s “Listening Circles” gave our congregation an opportunity to reflect on and recommit to the principles we hold dear, which build our connections and our faith in this community. As Margret shared with us last week, members spoke about listening to each other, appreciation, forgiveness, kindness, humility, and caring; compassion, curiosity, flexibility, and gratitude. She also highlighted the expectations and agreements which define and support our living into these principles, to which we can return as inspiration and guides when we lose our way.
We have never had a “covenant renewal” Sunday; the Covenant of Right Relations adopted by our congregation in 2009 has never been revised or updated. Now we have an opportunity to do that, as we meet in groups to build on the values elicited by the “Listening Circles” to create a covenant for the future. The “World Café” process used in these sessions features small groups of participants at separate tables, working for 20 minutes to draft statements based on the values we’ve shared. Then, these groups split up to form new groups at different tables to edit and expand on the drafts created by the original groups. As this process repeats itself several times, a lot of beneficial cross-pollination takes place. We’ll eventually come up with a large set of statements, which we’ll consolidate into a new covenant reflecting the shared ideas of the entire group.
As someone who has studied and worked on Right Relations for nearly a decade, I’m convinced that your involvement in this process is invaluable. No single committee’s efforts can substitute for the commitment of every one of us to the common goal of creating and sustaining a healthy community. Our congregation will be only as strong as each of us resolves to make it. So please, join in and let your voice be heard.
-Libby Pontillo, October 2, 2022