We thought we were different. And we are. Though I have discovered the ways in which we were like every other spiritual community I know.
Let me wax poetic a moment about how we were/are different.
We challenged every doctrine and tradition of the church as we formed a worshipping community. We still do. It is hard work to do with intellectual and spiritual integrity… so none of our conclusions is carved in stone. We know that we do not know. I love that about us even though it is emotionally and spiritually strenuous.
We work to be not only non-patriarchal but non hierarchical. Reimagining power is an ongoing challenge. While we challenge the power of the pastor and name a circle as our way of sharing power, like many assumptions we bring to the table from our pasts, it can be almost impossible to implement.
We reimagine images of Godde. We use inclusive language about both Godde and humanity in our liturgy, in our hymns, in our conversations. And it’s more than inclusive of male and female. We are inclusive of race, ethnicity, mental health status, gender identification, class, education, and spiritual backgrounds. We press ourselves to see the Divine in every expression of humanity.
We are a place of spiritual healing for many who have been hurt or abused by the institutional church, making room for the hesitant, for the ones who have been in the stranglehold of doctrine, for the ones who live in fear. We make room for one another, honoring different beliefs and understandings. Our unofficial motto is that we may not all believe the same things in the same ways but we are journeying together. Often we learn and deepen from our differences because we aren’t afraid (mostly) of them.
We are different.
And we are very much the same.
We experienced crisis in community more than once. Sharing life is fraught with all the idiosyncrasies of personalities, relationship challenges, brokenness of body, mind or spirit… and sometimes we rise and respond with grace. And sometimes we don’t.
Like every other community, as people come and go, we sometimes lose sight our central commitments to one another. Sometimes the work of being community in crisis is too difficult and people cut bait. Sometimes we find ourselves sitting in judgment of one another and the circle is broken.
But like many spiritual communities we get up and keep on trying. We limp along in Godde’s grace, holding onto Godde’s dream for humanity, and keep on trying to live deeply into our relationship with the Divine.
So why am I telling you all of this? Because I am working to understand the brokenness we experienced. My own brokenness and the way the community was torn apart. And I am confronting my arrogance that assumed because we are different we would avoid the pitfalls of being in human community. We are not that different. And I bow to this challenge to my assumptions.