Our theme for the month of June is “Listening to Our World.” Centers for Spiritual Living’s theme is “Protect the Vulnerable.” I like the idea of being a champion for those who cannot speak up or stand up for themselves. I always rooted for the underdogs when I used to attend sports contests. Yes, I believe that children need to be protected especially to protect them from greed and malice. But, as a huge Brene Brown fan, I now have a positive take on vulnerability.
I think that we should celebrate and emulate the vulnerable.
Brown states: “Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, creativity, of belonging, of love.”
This is a huge idea with which to grapple. On the one hand, I don’t want to experience shame or fear. I certainly do not want to add to feelings of unworthiness. Yet, the payoff for being vulnerable is all the qualities that I want for a happy, healthy, fully-lived life!
Here is my reasoning: I am committed to being a safe harbor and a loving presence for my friends and family. In order to feel connected, I need to risk looking foolish. I need to ask clarifying questions when I am not clear and I need to take action towards my goals.
It seems to me that it is much easier to be bullet-proof.
Yet, being bullet-proof is ultimately unsatisfying because no-one knows the real me.
I just returned from our lake Arrowhead Retreat. It was sensational.
My good friend Rev. Mike McMorrow presented a powerful workshop based on Brown’s work.
He started by asking us to share something that we remembered from our childhood. Then he intensified the experience a little and asked us to share with our group a time we had experienced struggle or shame. He mentioned that many of our Centers are shrinking in attendance. This shrinkage is at a time when our communities could use more of us.
Now he was preaching to the choir, but the point is still valid.
When we come to our Center, we feel welcomed and safe. The service is designed to uplift and inspire. But most of us, don’t tell anyone where we go on Sundays. We keep it secret.
I can understand that. When I was first studying these principles, I rarely asked anyone to come to our Center. Why? It was uncomfortable for me! I tend to be introverted and also my spiritual experience was very private. It was easier to stay safe and tight in the bud than it was to stretch and blossom. I didn’t want to convert anyone to my way of thinking, yet I do want the world to be a safe and loving place for everyone. I would love it if everyone had a similar experience to mine.
So Rev. Mike asked us to consider our own personal growth.
He reminded us of how fulfilling true vulnerability can be. He invited us to risk doing something imperfectly and to share with others what value we get from attending our Center. He assured us that a couple of good things happen when one invites someone to attend a service: He gains clarity about our value. And we get to practice listening to someone else’s point of view.
He had each person, most were not ministers, write out a statement about what our Center is and what it teaches, along with a caring statement of the value we get from living our principles. Then we practiced on each other. It was a joyful experience.
Although most of the participants were from the Redondo Beach Center, I felt connected to everyone I spoke to. The three people who attended from our Center seemed to have a great time connecting with people who had been strangers when the weekend began and they were fast friends by the time the weekend was over. Practicing listening to each other is listening to the world!
Do you attend our Center or another one like it? When was the last time you invited someone to come with you? I challenge you to invite friends. It might be the beginning of deepening your relationship with those people.
You don’t need protection! You need to practice!