2012-08-28

"To Arrive Where We Started"

Dialog participants try to build on other individuals' ideas in the conversation. In this way, misunderstanding each other is actually central to the enterprise. In the misunderstanding of what another person meant, we might bring forth a new meaning.

Interestingly, this again echoes that Gospel of John, I notice. David Bohm never talked at all about any of the Gospels. In fact, I am surely misunderstanding him by explaining his point as being in line with that Gospel – which illustrates the point: a new yet related thought emerges from misunderstanding.

You see, in the Gospel of John, People often misunderstand what Jesus says. Instead of speaking in parables and short sayings about the kingdom of God, as he does in the other Gospels, Jesus speaks in long, difficult monologs that are misunderstood. But they are misunderstood in a way that opens up new levels of meaning.

If there can be said to be a goal of the various incarnations of "Bohm Dialogue" it turns out it is the same goal the spiritual path has: to understand ourselves. For dialog groups, what it’s all about is the whole group getting a better understanding of itself. Bohm Dialogue is used to inform all of the participants about the current state of the group they are in. Where are we right now?

Irony. My dream of a future for Unitarian Universalism, for this Fellowship, is a dream of bringing our attention back from futures and into the precise present. Right now we are a long way from right now. In three years, in ten years, in thirty years, I see us -- Unitarian Universalism nationally and globally and locally here in this Fellowship – moving along that long day’s journey into…Day.

When it comes to suspending assumptions, judgment, not repressing them, just looking at them, I have to admit that I am lousy at that. That’s exactly what my spiritual practice has been all about for the last 11 years, and like that student who asked for wisdom, what I got seems pretty disappointing. Yet the journey not only is more important than the destination, the journey IS the destination. I see Unitarian Universalism growing more and more serious about living into that paradox, cultivating genuine spiritual practice.

I see us becoming less and less interested in being a social club of the like-minded, and more and more hungry for work – for engaging the difficult, boring work of transformation into exactly what we are. I see more and more Unitarian Universalists making their congregations into places not that politely reinforce while not examining the assumptions people came in with, but places that facilitate the suspension of assumptions and the holding of them in our attention. I see Unitarian Universalists increasingly devoted to spiritual journaling, study of scriptures and wisdom writings, meditation, mindfulness, and meeting in small groups to do the work of deepening together.

That is where our faith’s growing edge is, and it is on that edge that my ministry is called to serve. The impulse to deepen, to get down to right now, to not cease from the labor of exploration, and, as T.S. Eliot said, “the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” – that is the impulse to spiritual work that I am here to serve, to nurture and guide with every understanding and misunderstanding I have. It is who I am. I can do no other.

We have a long way to go to arrive at where we are. It’s a journey that starts everywhere at once: in our hearts unfolding like flowers; in the joy of this day; in field and forest, mountain and meadow, calling us ever to that space of joy. There is a triumph song of life, and there is nothing we need do but hear it. And learn to sing it.

Amen.
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This is Part 4 of 4 of "Holy Dialog"

Previous: Part 3: "Attention, Everyone"
Beginning: Part 1: "Dialog"