On July 1, just before I went on leave, I facilitated a leadership retreat here at TUS. Sixteen of our congregation’s lay leaders came together for half a day, deepening their knowledge of themselves, each other, this place, and our mission. We started off that gathering with these words, from Margaret Wheatley:
There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about. Ask ‘What’s possible?’ not ‘What’s wrong?’ Keep asking.
Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know.
Talk to people you don’t know.
Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear.
Expect to be surprised.
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness. Stay together.
Something kinda cool happened. Not knowing ahead of time exactly how many people would attend the workshop, I had divided this reading into its individual lines, planning to ask each person in the group to read one until it was done. It turned out that we read the whole thing, each of us reading one part of it, each of us contributing equally to the wholeness.
By equally, I mean that we each had a line. For some of us, the line contained seven words. For someone else just four. For another person, thirteen. Yet we all contributed to the whole. Like I said, it was kinda cool. Or holy.
The board took July as a break and met again in August. At that August meeting, I read this same text for our opening words, feeling that it would be a good way to start the new year as I lit the chalice.
It was just fine. Not great. Good enough, but that was all. Something was missing. It was the many voices. They were missing. So even though I read it all the way through, it did not feel whole.
We come together, on Sunday mornings, for committee meetings, for fellowship, for events that grow our hearts and minds, for opportunities of service or witness. We come together, each of us, one of many, and though that one is worthy and full of dignity, whole in and of themselves, I believe we are only truly whole when we come together.
I am so very much looking forward to our coming together to be whole again, to ask not “what’s wrong” with you all, but to ask “what’s possible?”
I look forward to seeing you at our Water Ingathering on September 10 at 10:30, followed by (and I hope you will stay for it) the dedication of our Gratitude Garden (at noon). Dear ones, let us find out together, as a whole people, just what is possible…
I am blessed to be on this journey with you,