“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
In his famous book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki offered this wisdom that I am trying to live into. It asks me to appreciate that I am new to this thing – new to called ministry, new to TUS, new to Central Jersey, new, new, new. His words encourage me to consider this is, in fact, a good thing – perhaps even a great thing.
Since I am just beginning a new task/job, I can turn what is often perceived as a deficit (“She doesn’t know what she’s doing,” or “She doesn’t know how that works.”) into a source of curiosity (“How does this work?”) or creativity (“Is there another way to do this that is just as good or better?) or connection (“I don’t know how to do this. Could you please help me?”)
I should admit that I have a little bit of a personality problem with this, as I have a tendency towards perfectionism. However, I’m glad to announce (and I think my spouse, Tony, would confirm), it’s waning with age! So I’m heading in the right direction, able to celebrate being a beginner, rather than an expert.
Curiosity, creativity, connection. These are a wonderful basis for the Laboratory of the Spirit that our shared ministry at TUS is building and embodying.
I can’t take credit for that wonderful term – Laboratory of the Spirit – I heard it first from the Reverend Jason Seymour, who spent his first six years of life in this congregation and now serves our UU congregation in Springfield, Massachusetts (just south of where I used to live).
I’m smitten with that notion: that our efforts together are filled with experimentation – actually, with experi-learning – guided by a sense of spiritual purpose in the world. Through our curiosity, creativity, and connection, we will make mistakes and learn from them. We will make new discoveries of heart, head, and hands in service of each other, our covenantal community, and in service of the wider world.
I look forward to the conversations to come when I approach you and say, “I don’t know how this works. Can you help me?”
I am blessed to be on this journey with you,