A few weeks ago, Rev. Susanne told me she’d like to re-start our practice of sharing testimonials in worship. Akin to last year’s Diversity themes, however, she is hoping to get folks to share briefly their reflections on our new Soul Matters Worship Themes. And that got me thinking about Sanctuary, October’s theme, and Memory, November’s theme.
For our these, I would like to share some personal reflection about the notion of Spiritual Home.
I have prepared these remarks, but in a way they are somewhat spontaneous. A few weeks ago, amidst a busy and hectic period in church work, Rev. Susanne prompted me to reflect on why I was engaging in the work and juggling so many things. My reflexive response was “Because it needs doing”. BTW – my spiritual approach often brings the sort of windging that Rev. Susanne picked up on – – it is usually more on the human side of the human-divine continuum. Which is good, since it led to some important, what we might call “inner work” about the gifts of mine that I bring to church (I will share more in a minute). Right away it came to me that church feels to me like a family. There are moments when I am particularly aware of this feeling, for example on Homecoming Sunday. I feel this more so as time goes on. “Homecoming” is an apt characterization. And today, when the memories so dear to us often focus on – family. Every so often, I realize that something of which I’ve been aware for a long time, suddenly assumes deeper meaning.
Home – it is a physical place, but not only that. For me, it is when a place is part of a sense of belonging. Even still, there are little places within these walls that are special for me. For example, every time I use the bathroom off of the parlor (so nicely renovated a few years ago by former Property chairperson Kevin Waring) I recall the Saturday morning of May 10, 1997, when that was the last place I was before going up into the sanctuary to meet my bride, Jane Dannenberg.
But that could have been anywhere. The thing for me is, it was here. All these years later, it is part of the physical setting in which I have become grounded, connected, with a sense of belonging.
When I first came here, besides Jane, one of the people who connected with me was Jo Gould. She invited me to join the Property committee, not for what I knew or what I could do (which I made clear did not include much expertise with building or grounds), but just for who I am. And that was at a point when she did not really know – she simply exercised her faith.
Often in my church work I look for a balance between simply bringing who I am, and inviting others to do so, with addressing “what needs doing”. Last week I mentioned that Laura Morin, Dan Griscom and I attended a UUA workshop on Claiming Your Spiritual Leadership. Among the concepts we learned about (I suppose we already knew to some extent – this helps us realized what we know), are the “inner work” I spoke of a minute ago, where we consider our and others’ gifts as opposed to knowledge and skills. It leads us to consider what we as human beings, and members of a family, bring to our church work, focusing on the essence of each of us as a human being as opposed to what achievements and deliverables we contribute. It guides us to do this in covenant, mindful not just of how we work together, but how we be together. In the human struggles we experience, as in any family, not to call each other out, but to call each other in. For our sense of belonging to overcome our fears, doubts and insecurities. For the freedom and fellowship around which we covenant, to help us to grow into harmony with the divine – which for me is the occasional reminder to practice honesty, openmindeness and willingness in the work and within the families for which I am grateful.
A really good reminder I got, that day a few weeks ago, and again today as I look out upon my spiritual home.
A family, with a covenant.
— Chuck Foley
MUUC Board President