True spiritual growth can be achieved only through the persistent exercise of real love... . The principal form that the work of love takes is attention. When we love another we give him or her our attention; we attend to that person's growth. When we love ourselves we attend to our own growth... . By far the most common and important way in which we can exercise our attention is by listening. — M. Scott Peck
Spirit of Life workshops offer participants space, time, and community to explore their Unitarian Universalist spirituality. Each focuses on a different aspect of the spiritual life, framed by the lyrics of Carolyn McDade's song "Spirit of Life." Like the song, the workshops are designed to be welcoming to Unitarian Universalists of many spiritual and theological persuasions. Participants are invited to claim an inclusive definition of spirituality and recognize the spiritual aspects of their lives.
Reflecting, speaking, and listening are core activities in each workshop. Listening, M. Scott Peck writes, is "a kind of attention that fosters spiritual growth." Participants in Spirit of Life are given space to silently reflect, to listen to the still small voice within. They are also given space to speak and to listen to other participants. Sharing honestly and listening attentively are affirmations of the inherent worth and dignity of each person and of our interdependent relationship to one another. Reflective and expressive activities invite participants to give attention to their lives and their choices so that they might live with mindfulness and intention.
The word "spirit" derives from the Latin word for breath and for inspiration. The "spirit of life" can thus be understood as inspiration for life, or the very breath of life. It can be felt as a loving force, a life force, or as (in the words of Howard Thurman) a growing edge, "the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor." The spirit of life can be experienced as god or goddess, as deity unfolding, as divine comforter. It can be felt as the collective human spirit, the power of nature, or innate wisdom. Each participant finds a meaning that speaks to his/her own understandings and experience.
As participants reflect on the following questions, they may grow in awareness and connection: "What experiences or moments have you had of feeling 'wow,' feelings of oneness with the earth, feelings of connection with the mystery and wonder of the universe, or a sense of God or the Spirit of Life?" "How have celebrations and rituals helped express your spirituality, and helped you connect with the Spirit of Life?" "What calls out for your care and compassion?" "How does your spirituality relate to the earth and our natural environment?" "In what ways do you show care, love, and respect to yourself? To others?" "What are the roots that 'hold you close' and the wings that 'set you free'?" "If you could reach your full potential as a person in touch with the spirit of life, what would you be like?"
Choice is central to Unitarian Universalism. Just as each of us is responsible for choosing our beliefs, we are responsible for choosing practices that support our living them. We can make our choices within the context of heritage and community. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that truth—revelation—is continually unfolding. We learn from our experience and from one another. Spirit of Life accompanies its participants on a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning" in the context of a covenanted congregational community.
May the Spirit of Life move through these workshops as you bring them to life.
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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