We Covenant to…
Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director
I will be sensitive to the needs of others, treat them with civility, and honor their confidentiality.
This is the second line of our congregational covenant.So, as I asked last week, what should it look like? It should look like we are really listening to one another:
- Give your full attention to the person speaking.
- Summarize or paraphrase what the other person said to clarify that you understood.
- Listen without judgement, taking the speaker’s perspective instead of thinking of your response.
- Use good manners- be pleasant and don’t interrupt.
- Acknowledge what the other person said, even if you don’t agree with them.
- Don’t respond too quickly- take a deep breath if you’re in a heated argument.
- Be open to changing your own perspective.
This is what it looked liked at the Fishbowl Circleslast month. Part of our covenant to one another was that we wouldn’trespond to each other’s testimony of experience. That guided usinto deeper listening and heightened our sensitivities towards oneanother and each person’s unique emotional responses to recentchanges. Because of that, we’ve cultivated a greater respect forone another. We’ve also discovered that we each come to churchbecause we have spiritual needs that we are looking to fulfill, butwe all find different ways to fulfill them.
Sometimes we are afraid to express those needs if we think we will be insulted, laughed at, or ignored. However, when we have the reassurance of a covenant and the expectation that others will be sensitive to our needs, we can take the risk of putting ourselves out there. Without it, we have an oppressive culture that only reflects the needs of a few.
Some of us need connection to and community with loving, caring people. Some of us need intellectual stimulation and discourse. Some of us need music, poetry, art, and the opportunity to create these things with others. Some of us need to organize, lead, and serve others in the church. Some of us need to engage in social justice and make a difference in our community. Some of us need opportunities for soul-searching, reflection, and guidance in transforming ourselves and our lives. All of our needs together display magnificent colors, multiple shapes, interconnected lines, and an array of textures, creating the ultimate mosaic that reflects the Spirit of Life as our unique community experiences it. How glorious the result becomes when we are sensitive to the needs of one another, allowing space for each of us. Beautiful, colorful, interesting, a work of art! That’s what being sensitive to the needs of others looks like.