This morning I had a chance for a conversation with Rev. Dale Lantz, endorsed community minister at First Unitarian. Rev. Lantz has a special ministry to women in the Baltimore City Detention Center, the jail where women are held before trial. He conducts a program for the Stress Reduction unit, and uses meditation, yoga and journaling as a means of helping people in crisis find their own strength. In the journaling unit, he asks participants to take a trip into their own bodies to listen to their hearts. “What does my heart want to tell me it knows about this question (e.g., anxiety, mistrust, perseverance, relationships, etc.)?” He comes to this question expecting that we have innate intelligence which can speak to our lives . . . if only we let it.
I treasure this perspective. I think this perspective is what distinguished the old Unitarians in the early 19th century (back when First Unitarian was founded). Less a question of whether the Trinitarian formula (and subsequent doctrine) adequately described God better than the notion of the unity of God, the liberals believed in human beings and saw in us the capacity to distinguish between good and evil, the ability to live lives of good ethics and moral consequence, and even the creativity to live with differences. Not “total depravity,” but reasonable, capable, and with the potential fo developing moral character.
When Rev. Lantz spoke, I went immediately to my own heart. “What is it that my heart is trying to say,” I thought, and “How shall we share this with our community” became my own response. Shall I ask Dale to lead such an exercise with us on a Sunday morning? Shall I ask him to write a guest column on the blog? Shall we do a series of pracctices whereby the congregation may, too, participate in yoga and meditation and journaling?
I’m thinking “all of the above, and more!” Being in a congregation with a ministerial staff team (paid and non-stipendiary) stretches me, and I hope that I learn as much as I can, and grow as much as I can, with the challenge and support of such a great team.