This religious community is a place
where we can know each other and be known,
not only in terms of who we have been and what we have done,
but in terms of what we might become and what we might yet do,
both individually and together.
When we recognize new members in Sunday services a few times each year, I explain that “a member accepts responsibility for continuing and sharing the faith journey that brought them to this place and also covenants to live in community with others whose journeys may be different.” This time last year, then, we began a program to do just that, offering the “Spirit in Practice” workshop series, facilitated by our then-intern, Walter Clark, our Community Minister, the Rev. Jennifer Ryu, and myself.
“Spirit in Practice” is a series of ten workshops developed by our colleague, Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom, who currently serves the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist in Charlottesville. Written in response to many UU adults’ requests for deeper spirituality, Erik introduces the series as follows:
"Spirit in Practice” was created to help Unitarian Universalists develop regular practices that help them connect with the sacred ground of their being, however they understand it. “Spirit in Practice” affirms religious diversity while seeking unity in our communal quest for meaning and wholeness. Whether participants follow a path they identify as Humanist, Jewish, Christian, Pagan, Theist, Atheist, Agnostic, Mystic, and/or any of the other paths we follow in our diverse congregations, the “Spirit in Practice” workshops offer a forum for learning, sharing and growth that can enrich their faith journeys.
Weaving together our UU Principles and Sources with the four developmental threads of spirituality, ethics, UU identity, and faith, the workshops began with an overall introduction last July, and concluded with a review and commitments to further exploration in April. During the months in between, we considered in turn each of the “eight spheres of spiritual growth”:
- Personal Spiritual Practices
- Communal Worship Practices
- Spiritual Partnerships
- Mind Practices
- Body Practices
- Soul Practices
- Life Practices
- Justice Practices
Knowing the challenges that modern life presents to many people when it comes to participating in an extended program, we offered each workshop twice each month, and this did seem to make it easier for more people to be able to attend. (If you’re curious, third Tuesdays were usually more popular than second Wednesdays, but that varied from month to month!) We also encouraged people to “drop in” for individual sessions, given topics that caught their interest.
Personally, I appreciated the chance in these workshops to explore for myself some spiritual practices with which I wasn’t very familiar, and I enjoyed hearing the experiences and the wisdom shared by my co-facilitators and our workshop participants. Our discussions ranged from light-hearted to deeply meaningful, making for a great example of what it means to continue and share our faith journeys. My thanks go to the nearly fifty people who participated in these workshops throughout the series, and particular thanks to Jennifer and Walter for helping to bring “Spirit in Practice” to the Fellowship!
I put my hand in your hand,
so that we can do together
what we cannot do alone.