Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

All You Need is Time

(Members of our congregation protesting the Charter Amendment
- Independent Aligator)

Recently I’ve been reflecting on time management and how my life has so many balls in the air I’m juggling. I wonder too if you are busy with home, family, community, and congregation? Do you find that on some days you have an “edge” because you aren’t getting your needs for ease and rest met, and you have less energy to engage with others, or to offer yourself empathy?

I shared my concerns with nonviolent communication trainer Sura Hart this past week of how I see the people in our congregation doing so much that we have troubles communicating, remembering, and focusing on what will bring us the most life fulfilling connections and activities. She said that she really feels that the “lack of time” is what is the most significant contribution to difficulty in parenting relationships with partners and with children. So how do we decide what to let go of, and what to grab on tight to with all our heart and energy? We live in a new age where even in the last few years I see an acceleration of time grabbers through technological advances on the Internet. It seems we don’t have the tools to know how to slow down, and how to choose between saving and savoring the day. Compassionate Communication may offer us some insights into tools that we can use together.

1. Before you arise each morning think of the most compelling needs you have for that day. Don’t move into thinking of how to meet those needs, just rest in the “energy” and “feeling” of those needs. What would it feel like to have those needs met? This will help you embody your needs and in the long run will help you take clear action steps.

2. Before you begin a meeting or gathering of others, share with one another the most compelling needs you have for that day, or for that week. It is a bit like sharing joys and sorrows. The group doesn’t move into thinking how to meet those needs, or what projects or activities to do, but together you share the energy and feeling of those needs. What would it feel like for each to have their needs met? This will help the group learn from each individual what are the more important needs alive in us, and will help us take clear action steps that let go of perfection and aim for authentic heart-filling days.

I have seen how groups can struggle if they don’t do this heart check-in. For instance, I serve on the Florida Unitarian Universalist District Board and for several meetings we were at an impasse regarding next steps for the district’s anti-racism, anti-oppression, multiculturism work. (ARAOMC). We didn’t know what to do. Then we had a time for sharing our stories of how oppression had impacted our lives and what we longed for. Almost immediately the way became clear as our hearts merged into one. Now ARAOMC is a priority for our district.

Similarly we are in the middle of a heart struggle in our congregation. There is anti-discrimination legislature that might be repealed at an upcoming City of Gainesville election on March 24, 2009. If passed this will negatively impact our GLBT people, and hence all of us. Over the last few months the congregation did not take an official stand against this action and now some of us share regret with one another that perhaps we missed a chance to really focus on what is important to those we care for, for ourselves, and for our Gainesville community. If we had taken more time over the course of the last months on this to share our hearts, needs, longings, and mournings, would the way have become clearer on what is ours to do?

The wonderful thing about Compassionate Communication is that it is never too late. Now we are sharing our hearts regarding this upcoming vote, and as we let go of perfection over our past actions, I believe we are more clearly aiming, together, for shared authentic heart-filling days so that we may take clear action steps. May it be so.

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