WES Blog — New year, new you (at WES)

Happy New Year! I always love the beginning of things–much better than the waiting time I talked about in last week’s blog. Of course, sometimes we feel as though we might be on a threshold, at a beginning place, but we aren’t sure exactly what that means or even what we are beginning. Perhaps that’s what this moment feels like for you…wondering what comes next in your life, and what kind of person you will be in the coming year. 

I hope you’ll join us for platforms in January; the first two in particular, on the 6th and the 13th, address some of those questions about how we choose and how we turn a barrier from the past into a threshold into the future. On the 13th, I’ll be joined for that conversation by Rajesh Vidyasagar, one of our Sunday officiants, as part of our new experiment of some clergy-lay woven-together platforms.

Perhaps you are wanting to experiment at WES this season! I want to let you know about some new offerings on the horizon. A new Sunday Book Club called “Books that Embrace the Other” met for the first time this past Sunday; new members Edwina and Jerrod are leading it and they have created an incredible syllabus of books focusing on different parts of identity in America, including book reviews and video clips that go with each book (always helpful for those of us who didn’t, perhaps, get through the entire book. Ahem). In the future, that group will meet on third Sundays at 1pm. 

There are two single-time workshops that are coming up in the next months that I am particularly glad we are able to offer, both with outside facilitators. On Sunday, February 3 we will have three trauma-informed therapists joining us to create a Healing Circle for female-identified survivors of sexual trauma. (I am currently looking for a therapist who could work with me to create circles for survivors with other gender identities; please let me know if you want to be part of that effort). This will be a tender space, intended to support resiliency and combat the sense of aloneness often felt by survivors. 

On Sunday, March 3 we are bringing in a specialist in enneagram work to lead a workshop on “typing” yourself within the enneagram, and how it can help you increase self-knowledge and support your relationships and interactions in the world. I have found enneagram work to be really interesting, a great way to understand myself and others–why we act the way we act!–and, honestly, just plain old fun. We will have childcare available if needed during both these workshops. 

Finally, I am very excited that WES is able to partner with All Souls Church, Unitarian to offer Beloved Conversations, an intensive learning and workshop series on race and ethnicity, that holds both the tensions and joys of an intentional multicultural community. The framework for Beloved Conversations is a teaching and learning curriculum developed by Meadville Lombard Theological School (a UU theological school, located in Chicago). The curriculum assumes that every conversation with another human being is a cross-cultural conversation, even if your conversation partner is from the same cultural group. Nested inside congregations, Beloved Conversations creates the first step – a learning laboratory – for how to live healthily in a multi-racial, multicultural, and often philosophically diverse community. A 1½ day learning laboratory in the form of a “retreat” will be held on Friday, February 22, 2019, in the evening, and Saturday, February 23, 2019, daytime. Attendance at the retreat is required to participate in the program; it introduces and models the teaching practice and spirit of the overall curriculum, with the intention of forming a learning community. The program itself then unfolds in an 8-week series of small groups, let by co-facilitators. If you are interested in being part of Beloved Conversations as a participant, or as a facilitator, please let me know. I have heard such good things about this program and the way it invites people into deep conversation.

There are a lot of new things at WES, including new staff (welcome, L.A.!), and sometimes newness can feel disorienting. And, I hope that you share my excitement about the new things that open us up and build on who we have been. And that you talk with me about new things you might want to create–I’ve heard requests recently for support groups around chronic health, mental health, and parenting, and a request for a workshop or conversation on ethical banking and investing! If you want to be part of any of that, please let me know. 

As we begin our 75th year as a community, I am grateful for all that changes and emerges, and for all that remains the same. Thank you so much for being part of a community that both innovates and endures, year after year. It’s an honor to continue to serve you.