What Does It Mean to Be A People of Possibility?

“Turning to One Another”

There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Ask: “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?” Keep asking.
Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know.
Talk to people you don’t know.
Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear. Expect to be surprised.
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness.
Stay together.—–Margaret Wheatley

Of all our topics this year, possibility is arguably most central to our faith. It has distinguished Unitarian Universalists from the start. Historically, when others saw depravity and sin at the core of human identity, we saw potential–sometimes with hardly any boundaries. When many were preaching that this world was fallen, and we should look instead to the hope of an afterlife, we found ourselves falling in love with the possibility of heaven on earth. Theologically, you might say that we were the people that believed that God hadn’t given up on any of us and so we shouldn’t give up on each other or this world. Psychologically, it’s led to us being a people of “why not?” Why not give people another chance? Why not fight what seems a losing battle? Why not risk a little failure? After all, to us the possible has always seemed more likely than not!

But to be honest, when you do good work (and you do) from the abundance of your passion, the failure, which will come, seems personal. Sometimes the actions taken with the best intentions result in the opposite of what you hoped for. I see this happen in my life time and time again. And when it does, I can feel befuddled and defeated. Margaret Wheatley, who has been working on changing the world for over forty years, writes and teaches about the power and influence we must invoke in order to step forward and serve humanity in these troubling times. As things grow darker and more difficult she summons us to reclaim resilient leadership as a noble profession that creates possibility and humaneness in the midst of increasing fear and turmoil by creating ‘Islands of Sanity.’ She writes, “There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” I felt such a power as I sat at the table and watched your phenomenal board leaders craft goals for the upcoming years:

• Engage in church-wide healthy communication practices.

• Building and sustaining a vibrant multigenerational community.

• Participate in UU Mass Action Advocacy Day on April 9th.

Wheatley urges us to “turn to one another” to accomplish all this, encouraging us to discover the gifts each of us can offer to sustain the work we all care about. To know with certainty that we are doing the right work, the work that is ours to do. All to say that maybe being a people of possibility has more to do with being a people of vulnerability and courage than we originally thought. Be curious, talk to one another, people you know, people you don’t know, people you have never talked to before. Go beyond polite, find meaning, be vulnerable, notice what you care about, change the world one conversation, one relationship at a time.

As we honor our religion’s trust in what’s possible, I also know we need to allow space for the reality that trusting possibility isn’t so easy for many of us. To this end, Belinda Friedrich, a new member, and I will be sitting in the couch area in the back of the sanctuary during coffee hour after most services to help us turn to one another. Please look for us, we want to cultivate creative connections with you. So maybe the question this month isn’t “Are you ready to lean into possibility?” but “Who’s beside you and who are you bringing along?” “Who have you gathered to patch and pick you up when the path gets bumpy?” After all, no one makes it down the road of possibility alone. And perhaps that’s the real secret: remembering that “Why not?” is something we all have to say together.

Here’s to discovering what’s possible together,

Rev. Jill

For more about practicing possibility read this blog/sermon