Sabbatical Blog

...chronicling some of my projects and learnings during this time apart from parish ministry

Sunday, April 23, 2006


My sabbatical treat to myself was to attend the Spiritual Directors
International convention with a friend and hear my colleague Jeremy Taylor
speak about dreamwork and the spiritual life. Jeremy is being very good,
and the rest of the conference is fabulous. Here are some reflections.

UU's who go to GA often start in the airport saying to each other, "That
one's a UU, that couple is going to GA for sure, there's another one." We
get into hotel vans and confirm with the other UU's that we recognized them
from afar. We think that UU's all look alike.

Oddly, this group of Spiritual Directors looks almost like UU's. The group
lacks the blocks of youth and persons of color who come to GA, although
there is a scattering of younger adults and persons of color. There is
also a scatting of religious headgear not seen at GA; Jewish, nuns, and one Muslim
headscarf in the crowd of 500. Another difference; of the 500, at least 400 are women. Also, there are no t-shirts with slogans on them. But the same well-heeled simple dressing and comfortable bodies with open faces make me feel right at home. The inclusive worship offered would work in any UU church that didn't cater to the religiously allergic. The political climate is
distinctively leftist when the subject comes up, which is surprisingly
often, though only in passing, and with a mood of distress, not fury. This is a group of people who believes in praying for their enemies, not denigrating them.

Going to a "GA" where I only know my roommate and am not constantly
(desperately?) on the lookout for old friends is much more relaxing, I must
say. And going to the meetings of an institution which I have not come to
care about particularly is even more relaxing. The issues of growth,
diversity, credentialing, and the future of this particular discipline are
of interest to me but they don't make me anxious. I can take the occasional
silliness I notice in stride. It seems like a healthy and centered group,
which I can't say is how I feel about UU's at GA. But even if there was an
issue in the crowd, it wouldn't be my pain. It's nice to have the distance.

Also unlike GA, this is not a business meeting with religious window
dressing, this is a spiritual meeting where some business is done. The day
is bracketed not just with worship, but with prayer. The workshop
presenters are not only introduced by someone from the governing board, they
are blessed. Every workshop I've taken has included not only sharing, but
silence and a benediction. It's all inclusive of a variety of religious
paths, respectful of difference, and non-sexist. And I've been blessed.

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