There is an excellent article in the UU World this month entitled Snapshot in Time: A Different Church by Gail Geisenhainer. It is a story about a lesbian woman who goes to a UU church in Maine in the 1980’s for the first time. She fears she will be ostracized but she is not. In fact, she is welcomed. However, not long into her visits to the church, a woman during Joys and Concerns expresses homophobic opinions. The minister of the church expresses that not all congregants feel the same and this is reiterated the next week during Joys and Concerns when other congregants express that this opinion did not represent them nor the beliefs of UUism. But, and this was the important part of the story, the woman who made the homophobic remarks was also not ostracized. The author of the story writes, “When we covenant to journey together through all that life brings, it means that when things get ugly, we don’t just leave. Oh, how we may want to vanish! But our covenants call us to abide and work things through”. Later in the article she writes the words attributed to the Buddha, “Let us overcome violence by gentleness. Only through love can hatred come to an end. Never does hatred cease by hating in return.”
We have talked a lot over the last months about our proposed mission statement and about the Eighth Principle. But we haven’t spoken much about our covenant. Here it is:
Mindful of our diversity and our need for greater understanding,
we promise to open our hearts and minds to foster
a safe, inviting and loving community.
We will treat one another genuinely and respectfully as together
we share life’s journey toward wholeness.
The road to vote on the Eighth Principle has brought up quite a bit of weighty discussion. It has been thought provoking and at times emotionally challenging. We don’t all agree. But as we go through this journey ( note the word journey is in both our covenant and the Eighth principle) let us remember our covenant and try to understand each other, to be safe and loving with each other and to be respectful towards all. Let us not ostracize anyone but “abide and work things through”. Our Beloved Community is worth it. You are all worth it. We are all worth it.