In her sermon on Sunday, Rev. Charlotte Arsenault made this powerful observation: that when Unitarian Universalists covenant ourselves to our seven Principles, we are covenanting ourselves to dangerous things. Standing together for our Principles has meant throughout our history individuals giving their lives for what they mean.
We covenant. What does that mean? To covenant means to come together, to gather ourselves around something, to form community and relationships around and because of something (from Latin, convenire = to come together).
We come together and create community around the acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
Surely there is no danger here–no risk–no potential of threat of loss. After all, isn’t that the basic constitution of danger–that I or you or anyone feels a threat of loss. We don’t even have to lose something to feel danger. We simply have to feel the possibility of losing something.
Think that this principle of ours poses no potential danger? Just suggest to someone that your sense of spirituality or spiritual growth (or even that there is some human quality called spiritual) is different from theirs. The almost universal reaction is to pull back, label and separate.
I am coming to see that the most fundamental form of loss or threat of loss is rejection from belonging to community.
So, the most powerful part of this principle is not necessarily the “encouragement to spiritual growth” but the “acceptance of one another.”
I think this sounds very easy. I think in reality practicing full on acceptance of those who have a fundamentally different way of seeing life is very difficult.
We can practice this principle by noticing how we pull back from those whose particular spiritual practice we do not share.