Wednesday, March 13, 2019

What I Heard at this Retreat

Fresh off the "Fearless Dialogues" clergy spiritual life retreat, I heard a desire for unity despite deeply held opposing convictions regarding inclusiveness. 

We all practiced our listening skills, intentionally seeing and hearing each other more deeply. We were challenged to especially focus on seeing and hearing the people with whom we enter a 36" space for at least 42 seconds. We were encouraged to reach out and create opportunities to engage others in ways that create spiritual space for meaningful dialogues with less fear. It seemed like everyone was very supportive of each other and sincerely cared about each other's thoughts and feelings.

All with whom I interacted expressed great love for Christ, other people, and the Bible. I saw and heard and felt the effects of the Holy Spirit moving among us. We shared holy conversations, Holy Communion, holy singing and preaching and prayer. During breaks, some of us remembered previous times of ministry together, talked about our current church and family situations, and enjoyed being together regardless of our stances on inclusiveness.

I left feeling loved. I left feeling certain that no one will change their views about inclusiveness on the basis of argued points, including me. Our convictions are shaped over a life time of experiences. I left feeling certain that we can create spaces of unity for each other. We can see and hear and respect each other's experiences. We can advocate for structural changes that enable us to continue as "One Body in Christ" without expecting each other to back down from the things we believe in. Standing up for and strongly advocating what we believe in can be done in ways that strengthen, rather than destroy, our unity in the love of Christ.

Of course, those who oppose unity probably would not have chosen to attend this kind of retreat. That leaves me feeling challenged less to change anyone's mind about inclusiveness and more to change minds about unity.  I do sympathize with the sense that it would be easier for us to break up than find our way to stay together. But some of us would rather do the heavy lifting and see if we can stay in love and charity with one another regardless of our deeply held opposing convictions. That kind of change will come only through our "Fear-less Dialogues," one prayerful conversation at a time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Bill! Very loving and expressed so well. John Middleton