Dear Members and Friends,
I look forward to joining you this week in Westport. This past Sunday, I’m grateful for the wisdom and sharing of leaders and participants in our Soul Matters small group ministry program. If you have been longing for deeper connection with others in a small group setting, consider Soul Matters—especially if you are new to the congregation and welcome a space for deep listening and open sharing. Soul Matters provides the opportunity to reflect on a specific theme.
I’ve been thinking about the nature of community and belonging—and how making space for vulnerability is essential. “Vulnerability is not weakness, and that myth is profoundly dangerous,” says Brene Brown in her second Ted Talk. She defines vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, and uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives. “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage: to be vulnerable, to allow ourselves to be seen, to be honest. .. Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation, and change.”
Ever since her first Ted Talk in 2010 and her first book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown has provided me with language and concepts that I find very helpful. I recently was introduced to her 2017 book Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and The Courage to Stand Alone. In this work, she coins the word “braving” as anagram of what she calls “The Anatomy of Trust.”
B – Boundaries
R – Reliability
A – Accountability
V – Vault
I – Intercity
N – Non-judgment
G – Generosity
Would you join me for an engaging presentation and conversation about “braving”? The basis of our Shared Transitional Ministry is building greater and deeper trust within the congregation. I am so taken with Brene Brown’s “Anatomy of Trust” that I will hold three gatherings where I hope you will consider joining me for one of them. The first is tomorrow on ZOOM: Tuesday, January 23 at noon. ZOOM link: HERE . Or put into your browser: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84176251110?pwd=1cVYuN1xZ7W3SwCURAHsdrHScyWDCm.1
Because I arrive on Wednesday, hybrid gatherings will occur Thursday January 25th at 5:00 PM and Saturday January 27 at 9:00 AM. You can join me at UU Westport (Thursday in the West Wing and Saturday in the East Wing) or at the ZOOM link above.
The language that Brene Brown presents in B.R.A.V.I.N.G. provides an excellent complement to our Congregational Read: Transforming Conflict by Rev. Terasa Cooley. If you don’t yet have a copy, I encourage you to find one. The Adult Faith Formation Team has copies available on Sundays.
I’m pleased to share that Rev. Terasa Cooley, the author of Transforming Conflict, will be preaching on March 24th and leading a workshop for the congregation that afternoon. Please put this in your calendars, as this will be an excellent opportunity for the congregation to make significant steps towards building trust to do the work of discerning and developing agreed-upon practices of decision-making, transparency, and governance.
I hope to see many of you in the coming week at one of the these three gatherings—and I look forward to leading worship in person on Sunday.
Belonging to ourselves means being called to stand alone — to brave the wilderness of uncertainty, vulnerability and criticism. And with the world feeling like a political and ideological combat zone, this is remarkably tough. We seem to have forgotten that even when we’re utterly alone, we’re connected to one another by something greater than group membership, politics and ideology — we’re connected by love and the human spirit. No matter how separated we are by what we think and believe, we are part of the same spiritual story.
The special courage it takes to experience true belonging is not just about braving the wilderness, it’s about becoming the wilderness. It’s about breaking down the walls, abandoning our ideological bunkers and living from our wild heart rather than our weary hurt. We’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up, join and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.
True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable and learn how to be present with people — without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.