Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director- 9-4-19

Balance: Welcoming, Humility, and Grace

Wow! What a journey seminary is going to be! I spent 4 days in Chicago at Meadville Lombard Theological School with some amazing students, staff, and faculty. The experience went above and beyond my expectations.

Before going, as many of you who talked to me may have noticed, I was excited to be setting off on this adventure, but also super nervous. I didn’t know what I was “getting myself into” and was unsure if this was going to be the “right” thing to do. For the first couple days in Chicago, my emotions and feelings ran up and down the spectrum of “this is awesome!” to “can I really do this?”. But, by the end of the Thursday night new student welcoming ritual, my uncertainties had been balanced out.

Often times, when any of us set out on new adventures, especially ones so deeply connected to our hearts and souls, we can feel uncertain because we are making a decision that will impact our lives in significant ways. Many of the other new students I encountered in seminary had the same feelings I did. So, what was it that finally pulled us all towards finding a balance that gave us the confidence to move forward with our journey? My own reflections have led me to believe that a welcoming community that stresses the importance of being humble and gracious as we learn together was what offered us the opportunity to discern if the choice we made in being there was right for us or not.

You see, this community has the welcoming thing down pat. Why? Because each individual, as they are welcomed, is graced with the confidence in knowing that their stories and experiences matter, while also being guided towards accessing the humility needed to recognize that everyone else’s do too! The individuals in this community are deliberate in recognizing their mistakes, most often in the form of making assumptions about others. They are also open to offering grace to each other when mistakes are made, which makes each individual comfortable in sharing their thinking and being open to adjusting and evolving their thinking. A very deep learning about humanity can take place under these conditions of humility and grace.

As any UU community has, MLTS has a covenant. In this covenant, written by the students, the values of respect, welcoming, diversity, growth, humility, and grace are deeply embedded. I especially appreciate this line: “We will accept and forgive imperfections in ourselves and in others.” No human is perfect, yet imbalance is present when we think we are perfect and have all the answers, or when we think we are too imperfect to matter. When we humble ourselves, offer grace to one another, yet feel welcome and important to a community, we achieve a balance that can both nurture our souls and heal the world.

As I learn the skills that it takes to build a balanced, welcoming community, I will be sharing them with you all. I look forward to the journey of learning, loving, and creating together!