Follow this Order of Service as you lead the opening of Workshop 1: Covenant.
Welcome participants. Explain that in these workshops, participants will have an opportunity to explore many aspects of healthy, loving relationships together. Explain that the symbol of Unitarian Universalism is the chalice, and we light it when we gather.
As you light the chalice, recite these words or other words of your choosing:
We light this chalice as a symbol of our faith: to seek truth and honesty, to build respect, and to foster healthy relationships between all people, beginning with ourselves. May we dedicate our time together to these purposes.
Offer the focusing Principle for this workshop with these or similar words:
We covenant to affirm and promote acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth.
This program can be an important step in personal and spiritual growth. Participation may help you accept and affirm your partner more profoundly. It may also help you accept and affirm yourself more deeply. It can encourage your spiritual growth and help you be better companions to one another's ever-evolving spiritualities.
You may wish to offer a few moments of silence before proceeding to the reading.
Share the reading you have selected that relates to the third Principle. (Readings 439, 486, and 495 in Singing the Living Tradition are suitable.)
Lead participants through the following guided meditation to center them for the rest of the workshop. Read the words slowly, pausing between phrases; there is no need to rush.
I invite you into a time of silence. Try to sit with your spine straight, with your feet flat on the floor. Perhaps close your eyes. Take a deep breath, inhale . . . and exhale. Take another deep breath . . . and exhale. Again; this time, as you exhale, let go of all the pressures of the day. Let go of the "to dos," the "should haves" . . . just let them float out of the room. You can return to them later. Take another deep breath. As you inhale, take in the energy of this place. As you exhale, let go of any tension or stress you might be feeling.
Welcome here, to this time and place. This is the time you have reserved for being together as a couple. It is a gift you are giving to yourself and to each other.
[Sit in silence for two to three minutes.]
Please maintain this spirit as I read the spoken meditation.
Read the following poem: "The Guest House" by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Invite participants to sit in silence for a moment before bringing their focus back into the room.
Conclude by connecting the poem to the experience of the Principled Commitment workshops:
Each of us, each of our relationships, is a guest house, with "every morning a new arrival" — an event, a choice to make, a mood, a challenge. Here we are each welcome in our fullness. As we embark on the Principled Commitment program, we are "grateful for whoever comes" to this gathering of couples. May we meet one another at the door, literally and figuratively, and invite one another in with warmth and grace and laughter.