Ooooh, I’m Missin’ You

Today we are at a professional conference. It’s the first RE conference I have attended that is not UU focused.

There are many cultural differences, which is exciting and energizing.

I have been immersed in the program whilst noting the ways my UU perspective travels in this space.

There are translations, to be sure! Yes, there are language differences, but those are not the most noticeable translations to make.

I’ll percolate on it for a longer post…but today I am left wondering :

Where are all the bright, passionate, innovative, Unitarian Universalist Religious Educators? Why is it not our practice to be at this conference? Why are we not a larger part of this conversation?

There is one UU identified on the program giving a paper. Hooray! ….And let’s join her!

Find a Stillness

SO MUCH is happening. Some is good, some is really startlingly horrible. This “both true at once” and everything in between is …well, I suppose it’s what being human is about.

Today, after a particularly energizing meeting, when I agreed to be part of a new RBP*, I stopped to take a quick internal inventory:

  • Heart racing
  • Brain buzzing
  • Skin lightly tingling

I was either super excited about the Work, or having a panic attack. Sometimes they feel similar, you know?

I mentioned to my colleague that it must be hard to fall asleep at night when so much growth and vibrancy is happening now in our organization. “It’s like you can feel the seeds about to sprout!” I said. She smiled, nodded, and I thought she was going to agree with me, but then she replied, “Yes, but I also know that seeds don’t grow unless they have some dark and quiet, too.”

yup.

A lot of time we use the metaphor “cultivating ideas” to mean helping ideas come to fruition, but any farmer will tell you that a cultivator is the tool you use to stir up the soil near your precious plants to keep the weed seeds from growing. Frequent cultivating is what you do to prevent seeds from growing by drying out the soil and keep roots from taking hold.

Friends, colleagues, dear ones, we are already in constant motion. Whether because the deadline looms or because our neurons are firing with glee, I urge us put down the “Garden Weasel“. When the work day is done, it’s time to let the idea seeds rest.

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.

Valued Added Extras:

That reminds me of an art installation happening now in London called Empty Lot. Artist Abraham Cruzvillegas, filled wooden planters with soil from all over different parts of the city. Nothing has been planted in them but anything could grow, depending on what seeds are already in the soil.

Also here’s a lovely hymn, “Find A Stillness” by the UU Congregation of Atlanta arranged by Donald Milton III

*Really Big Project

Bring On The Hot Mess

Last week, I was lucky enough to be in conversation with many talented, creative, connected Religious Educators. The conversations flowed, and ideas sparked as we moved from naming problems to designing projects to meet the many needs of our world.

This is one of my favorite aspects of professional conferences- the time and space for trust to develop, friendships to bud, and just sit and talk or play together.

There was one especially fruitful conversation, where I was able to overcome my hesitance to share a new project idea with someone who is actually in the position to help make it a reality. I left the circle feeling hopeful and elated. So much so that when I later bumped into this person in passing, I shared my excitement: how energized I felt! That my brain was operating on all cylinders! That the collaboration we were beginning was going to be great because, “I like messes!”

Wait…. What?

mess

“I like messes.” As soon as I walked away, I felt really silly. The person would certainly rethink the wisdom of working with me, an inarticulate moron. The demons of insecurity, never far from me, leapt in like hyenas on a wildebeest carcass.

But after some reflection, and a generous reframe from a close friend who heard my story, I am able to see that exclamation as an asset. I do like messes. Messes are a huge part of any complex project. My work as a Religious Educator involves sorting through innumerable messes, both physical, systemic, and emotional.

I am experienced with untangling mess. I can hold many parts of project at once. I attend to strong personalities in a working group without running away or being intimidated. Complexity and contradictions intrigue me. I am not really thwarted easily. A gift of stubbornness, I guess.

I write this not to pat myself on the shoulder, but to lift up that sometimes we need to see the blessing in the odd parts of our functioning. Also that sometimes, when our thinky brains are busy working on big thoughts, bits of pure heart truth can slip out of our mouth. “I like messes” was a piece of my heart’s truth.

Hearing and understanding this message is helping me discern what sort of work is next for me. While I am not yet ready to proclaim a next move, I do now know that it will be something that uses my gifts – all of them. I will embrace messes with the confidence that I enjoy making order from chaos, finding commonalities in groups of people, and seeing the hope in complicated situations.

And there are plenty of messes for me to work on in this world.