It's that time again! General Assembly, the annual meeting of Unitarian Universalism, begins in 5 days. The ministers gather a few days earlier to make the whole event a week's work of networking, celebration, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations and interactions. Probably the most common unpleasant situation is that there just doesn't seem to be the time or spaciousness to really connect with all the people you'd like to! Or perhaps it seems like you don't know very many people when others seem to always have a gang of followers or peers gaggling around them wherever they go. Maybe during the plenaries, workshops, and worship services you experience envy, regret, and even sadness that you haven't accomplished as much in the past year, aren't in the thick of things or won't have the chance to have a follow up conversation with those who have spoken in the public space.
GA is far from being a bummer, but I do know that the complex world of human relationships and heart's hope easily set's one up for disappointment and frustration. It happens in our congregational homes every Sunday, and so too it happens every year at GA.
What then to do?
One way to keep the heart open to connection, is to keep bringing back our mind's chattering to needs. If you feel an emotion or a shift in a body, what needs are being met? Aren't being met? In yourself? In others?
Here's an example.
I recall several GA's back where I passed near the escalator at GA a colleague with whom I had worked in a congregation. As we passed, we paused briefly to say hello, during which he kept looking over my head. Without checking in with him, my jackal interpretation ran wild. He was too busy and important to spend any time with me. Clearly he was lacking in the simple social graces of at least making eye contact! I never really liked him anyway. If only I was more interesting we could have connected.... If I was only a different person I could have been a contender!
Okay, self empathy. What are my needs? What would be your needs in this case? I'll suggest connection, consideration, friendship.
Okay, other empathy. What are his needs? Guessing I'd say efficiency, connection, ease.
But wait, there's more! Once we understand the needs involved we can entertain what strategies we might employ to address these desires.
I'd love to hear your strategies about how you navigate your GA experience. Would you be willing to describe here how you seek to connect to the beauty of needs at GA, or any other large gathering of humans?
Ah, up rises another request to address the needs of connection, mutual reality, community, fun, etc! The list goes on.
Here's the idea. During GA let's share what needs come up for us, or what we guess is going on for others, by either reporting in here, or using Twitter with the general hastag = #UUAGA, and also #UUAGANEEDS.
Shall we? I'll start us off today!