We are all in this together, beloveds. All of creation is ultimately and intimately relational. Our faith is grounded in and continuously points us toward relationship. Covenants, promises about how we will be in relationship, cannot be made by one’s self. There are no solitary covenants – only communal ones.
It may surprise a few of you to learn that the Principles and Purposes Unitarian Universalists often speak of are part of congregational covenants. We covenant to affirm and promote the Principles and Purposes as member congregations – with other UU congregations. Indeed, in spite of the historically individualistic tendency of liberal religion, our strength has always lain in our relationships.
“None of us,” writes psychotherapist Marilyn Peterson, “can survive alone. Our capacity to trust, therefore, is precious because without it, we are isolated from the human community.” (At Personal Risk, 1992).
During my “year abroad” in California as an intern minister, I learned an important lesson from the ancient redwood trees of Northern California (author unknown).
Huge as they are,
They have very shallow root systems.
Yet they [are] not be blown over by strong winds.
The secret of their stability is
The interweaving of each tree’s roots with
Those that stand by it.
Thus, a vast network of support is formed
Just beneath the surface.
In the wildest storms,
These trees hold each other up.
So it is, I believe, with our liberal religious faith, Unitarian Universalism. Because we are an evolutionary faith, described by UU historian Susan Ritchie as “the Protestant Reformation that never stopped,” it is actually unfaithful for us to send down deep roots of certainty. Instead, we are called to send out many roots in a covenantal interweaving of commitment and accountability, becoming stronger through our relationships with each other.
May you find joy in the weaving, dear people of promise.