Ministry Days aren’t just for walking around a different city and visiting a different religion’s headquarter’s and getting in a baseball game with colleagues, there is also professional development.
I had the grace yesterday to be in the non-anxious presence of Rev. Cathleen Diane Cox, a community minister affiliated with the UU Church of Berkeley. Her ministry is spiritual direction for individuals, couples and communities. She led a workshop on The Power of Non-Anxious Presence. The workshop was rooted in the non-violent/compassionate communication work of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication and Byron Katie (site and blog).
I was nourished by the experience of my colleague’s wisdom and presentation. I appreciated her personal stories from her own life and ministry that illustrated how we attached feelings and interpretations to our observations and how all human actions are based on meeting needs, as well her guidance for handling strategies and requests for meeting needs, both our own and those of others.
I am deeply grateful for three things my colleague brought to this work, above all. The first was her Universalism, which I share (and I paraphrase, I was dealing with a dying laptop battery):
There is love that won’t let us go. The universe is a fundamentally safe place, even beneath all the problems, pain and hurt, there is a love in which we can place our trust.
The second was something that came up in a discussion around people in congregations who might manipulate our openness and/or authenticity or refuse to meet us adult to adult as we try to model or engage in non-violent authentic relationship:
Being unkind to each other does not equal being authentic!
The third was how she ended the workshop:
I believe everything people do is one of two things: an act of love or a cry for love.
Not too long ago a posted an entry about theological education. I know I need this type of education and I wish I’d had it during my preparation for ministry. I think this type of work in non-violent communication and compassionate communication can and should be taught to everyone entering our ministry.