Core Circle WSL - Common Ground
"We do not have to think alike, to love alike."
- From the Unitarian Francis David, 1510-1579
(Suggest following with a moment of silence.)
Introduction of Topic:
There is a certain privacy to a thought. We all have places within where no one else can ever be wholly admitted, where the turnings and churnings of our inner processes and feelings are simply intimate and not available to others. Consider your morning thoughts, your quiet-time thoughts, the kind of things that flit through your mind as you go through your morning routines and prepare for the day. Or the things you think about in the shower, or while driving, or journaling. We all have these inner places, and most of us have thoughts that we will simply never share, ever, with anyone. We have secret thoughts, even, where we keep our deepest fears, our most cherished delusions, and the hopes too precious, too fantastic, or too just plain weird to risk saying out loud. The paradox is that as private as those thoughts are, having them is a nearly universal experience. What is this deep common ground that we all have experience of but never share?
Or, consider emotions. There is a commonality to human emotions that transcends time, place, language, and culture. Our joy, grief, pain, relief, ecstasy, exhaustion, apathy, excitement…, emotions that also feel so incredibly private, so insistent, and so personal, at the same time are the same grief, joy, pain, relief, ecstasy, exhaustion, apathy, or excitement that every other human being experiences. We are, all of us, woven of the same essential fabric, composed of the same building blocks, bound into the same essential matter, space, and time.
This tension between the feeling of intense privacy and isolation within our own minds and hearts, and the knowledge that there nothing more common than the inner experience of privacy and isolation is one of those great paradoxes of human experience. The truth is that common ground among people is never far away and isn’t hard to find. We share a common experience with people we’ve never met, never will meet, and who appear to be radically different from ourselves.
Rev. Victoria Safford’s wrote, "We are alone yet intricately bound, inextricably connected to soil and stream and forest, to sun and corn and melting snow. We are alone yet bound by stories we cannot get out of to ancestors and descendants we will never meet. And all these natural conditions, these bonds we did not forge ourselves and yet cannot deny, are the strands of a theology, the seeds of faith, the beginning of religion, of binding all things." At First Unitarian, we are dedicated to the proposition that, "There is a Unity that makes us ONE, and binds us forever together despite time, and death, and the space between the stars."
Relate a time when you experienced Common Ground with another human being.
What conditions, or context, or background, allowed this to happen?
Were those conditions internal (within you), external (dependent on context), or both?
One result of the awareness of our Common Ground is compassion. How can our community teach this? To ourselves? To each other? To our children? To our larger community?
What are the limits of compassion? Or, when does compassion become destructive?
Likes and Wishes
"We have not all had the good fortune to be ladies. We have not all been generals, or poets, or statesmen; but when the toast works down to the babies, we stand on common ground."
- Mark Twain