- to nurture each other in our spiritual journeys,
- to foster compassion and understanding within and beyond our community,
- to engage in service to transform ourselves and our world.
We commit to presence, to show up for each other.
We commit to participation, to engagement in our community’s deliberative processes, and helping out in the realizing of our programs, our ministries.
We commit to a pledge, according to our financial means, to fund those programs and ministries and maintain the building in which they are fostered.
We commit to practice. "Practice" is everything I’ve been talking about summed up in one word. Practice cannot be solitary, for we need each other to see where we are, and shine lights toward where we might head.
None of these commitments are on/off switches. They are a road, a method. Paradoxically, even as we are each of us at a different place on that road, we are also all on it at the same place: right here, together. And even as we are together, we are also each of us at a different place.
A parallel from Zen illustrates. In Zen, the subject of enlightenment pops up from time to time: What is enlightenment? How do I get enlightened? Boy, wouldn’t enlightenment be great?
The great 13th-century Japanese Zen teacher, Dogen, had something actually rather helpful to say about enlightenment. He said, “the practice is the enlightenment.”
The practice is the enlightenment.
We’ve all heard: "It’s the journey, not the destination." Dogen is saying the journey is the destination. There is no “there” to go to except the process itself of going there.
We seek membership – real membership in real community – that we may know ourselves by becoming rooted in belonging – and thereby meet our need for growth and transformation.
For James Luther Adams, the first of the five smooth stones of liberalism is, “revelation is continuous.” Using both reason and intuition, we spend our lives seeking to enlarge our understanding of ourselves and others and the world around us.
Allan Bloom’s language is a little more quaint:
“the real community...is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers...of all ...to the extent they desire to know.”But the point unpacks as the same: membership means a process of enlarging our understanding.
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This is part 3 of 4 of "The Meaning of Membership"
Next: Part 4: "We Need to Belong"
Previous: Part 2: "Realizing Who We Are"
Beginning: Part 1: "The Super Bowl and Simulacra of Community"