Thanks to the gentle nudge of a new friend and mentor, I am finally getting around to starting a blog. Where to begin? In the middle of things of course. This blog will be largely dedicated to documenting the progress of a liberal religious community in early formation that I’m a part of. We started on this journey in June 2012 learning quite a bit during our first year. I may get around to telling you our history and from whence we have come one of these days.
For now I will start right here, 15 months into it. We recently returned from a fantastic retreat weekend in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the site of the first Life on Fire un-conference. It was a fabulous weekend to network with other folks aspiring to live more authentically by enacting a mission-driven culture in liberal faith communities.
I made my way to Oak Ridge with thirteen fellow sojourners from our group, provisionally known as the Free Range Unitarian Universalists of Indianapolis (FRUU). What possessed me to drive 6+ hours through the Smoky Mountains on a three-day weekend, you ask?
Over the course of the last two years, I had reached a turning point spiritually. Thanks to a gifted preacher and spiritual guide, I found a way to integrate the religion of my upbringing with my current faith journey. I also realized that the way church is done in some Unitarian Universalist communities could be so much more—more joyful, more engaged, more transformational, more vital, more relevant.
My experience was akin to what the prisoner likely felt upon rising up out of the cave into the sunlight for the first time in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. I knew I could no longer be satisfied with the flickering shadows on the wall. I could not go back to doing church the old way. It was painful to even contemplate.
So we set out to build a new way to be in religious community with one another. One of our members, a former Disciples of Christ minister, preached a good sermon for us one Sunday framing our journey in the context of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, “Welcome to the Wilderness.” The metaphor has stuck this entire year and proved quite apt at times. We’ve had to draw on faith to keep us going, unsure of what our next move would be or if it would bear fruit. Along the way we have learned to set aside small differences and build trust in one another to sustain us through the tough times.