GA: Glorious and Grueling
It is day 6 for me – one full day to go. Since Monday, I have been swimming in the ocean of sensation, stimulation, sensitivities, inspiration that is created when massive numbers of Unitarian Universalists gather to worship, to learn, and to do. Moments of awe are in great abundance here, but my feet really hurt at this point.
My heart is also hurting. GA is an emotional experience and I am so glad that we have a right relationship team that provides a healthy container to help us process the ways we can learn better to hold each other in love. It is not just their job, however. The responsibility for right relationship belongs to all of us.
Last night the Synergy worship (the Bridging Ceremony celebrating youth that are transitioning to young adults) was held immediately after the Ware lecture ended. I have been to this event in the past and loved it, but I also knew if I stayed, it would be at least 10PM before I could return to my hotel room, several blocks away. My feet hurt. 12 hour days just don’t work for me anymore, especially after almost a week of long days. I felt bad about it, but I left. I felt bad for myself, having to miss it, and I also felt bad for the youth, fearing that they would feel less loved and less supported, because I did not stay.
And it wasn’t just me. A bunch of other, mainly older, people also left. And it was painfully obvious how many left because there was no break between the two events. Which was a bit of a surprise and not the best planning. It felt terrible to be walking out during the chalice lighting. I wish I had waited a bit and left during a song instead so as to be less disruptive. And just maybe, as someone rather sarcastically tweeted, the older adults could have been “sung out” to their hotel rooms like most of our congregations sing the kids out of worship. (Just so you know, my church is one of the few that doesn’t do that anymore. Adults, youth, and children all worship together each and every week. Classes for different age groups are AFTER the service, not during. All worship is for everyone, although there is an option of nursery care for the youngest ones. Interestingly, last year in Phoenix, the youth from our church chose to sit with the rest of our church group rather than with the youth caucus. I AM not saying there should not be youth or young adult caucus seating at GA, just that youth and young adults have a choice. The quality of intergenerational relationships can affect that choice. )
I hate the assumption that those who left last night did so because they don’t care about younger people and don’t enjoy diverse styes of worship. That might be true of some, but I suspect most of those who left were simply exhausted. My feelings were hurt by that assumption, and that assumption also hurt the feelings of those who stayed.
The arrogance of youth, the cynicism of age – those are assumptions too. How easily feelings can be hurt without intention.
Would it help to say, I wish I could stay? Would it help to say, I wish you could stay, but I understand?
Could we learn to sing each other out (and in) with love?
Go now in Peace