We had been hiking straight up hill for nearly two hours. Unlike the day before, it was sunny, not raining – but the remnants of the rain were everywhere – mud, and deep crevices along the trail, trees fallen along the path. It was hard climbing, sometimes dangerous, and glorious. I was hiking with a few of my colleagues – we were together for a retreat for senior ministers in large UU congregations – new friends whose words and work I had long cherished and now we were climbing a mountain together.
There was content in our week together – learning and reflecting and an official agenda. Yet, as always in these sorts of gatherings, it is the in-between times, the breath, the unplanned conversations, and the long walks to an unknown places that stay with me long after our time together.
So often in our congregations, and in our lives, we can start to feel isolated. Like we’re facing all the struggles and challenges all on our own, and that there’s no one that quite understands, or shares the same longings or is working towards the same goals. But then…you find yourself debating faith, and evil, and the popular misinterpretation of Universalism by way of overly-optimistic theological anthropology, all while navigating a rocky cliff and a rushing river…and you think, we’re all in this together!
OK, I know, that’s not likely your specific example of discovering common ground. But – we all have these stories. Where we realize that where we thought we were going it alone, there’s actually a bunch of others out there, working alongside us – not always totally visible to us, but there nonetheless.
In these days where the work of repairing the world can feel insurmountable, let us remember the many partners who are out there who we cannot see, yet are with us nonetheless. And let us give thanks for each of them, and for the visible ones too, and let us be faithful to our partnership, and the good work that calls all of us on.