I walked into the room just as the speaker was saying  something about “practicing congregations” as the future of 21st century religious community. I quickly took a seat. Robert Wuthnow, a sociologist of religion, hooked me when he went on to say people today are looking for learning communities that can teach them new ways of being human together.

It’s no longer about seeking. For today’s generation, wise teachers tell me/us it is less about seeking community and more about actively co-creating it. It’s about making a joyful commitment to learning new skills and ways of caring for one another in community.

Loyalty is highly valued in practicing communities along with putting down deep roots in a diverse community where people at all levels of development are learning and working together on something they really care about. Like creating beloved community.

Many years ago I was blessed to have crossed paths with practitioners of non-violent communication. Many are Unitarian Universalists and some are active members of congregations. I’m grateful for this community of mutual support as I continue to learn and practice this new language of compassion.

One of the hardest things for me to do is offer and receive feedback empathetically. I feel really vulnerable and nervous about immediately putting someone I really care about on the defensive.

Have you ever tried to give someone feedback and neglected to first ask if they even wanted to hear it? I do it more often than not. For me, learning the language of compassion is as much about un-learning habits that are not getting the intended result as it is learning new communication patterns and habits.

Not too long ago, a new friend turned me onto Miki Kashtan’s website, The Fearless Heart.  It is my great pleasure to pass on this post of hers, Feedback Without Criticism, in case you are looking to learn new ways of being human, too.

 

The Caring Tree, by Janice Fried from Tikkun art gallery