The last few weeks in spirit play we have been playing with the idea of family (if you haven’t brought in your family photo yet, there’s still one more week). What makes a family? How are families the same and different than each other. How is church a family of families?
This week’s lesson focused on adoption. We read a story about a boy and his adopted family as they expected to adopt a new baby into the family. The kids were antsy and eager to move and play. I was the door teacher and eager to sit and be still and sink into witnessing our classroom. It was a good day of interaction with children, a visiting family and lots of energy and laughter. I had come from the service where Rob had talked about sin and Christian rituals re-imagined and used powerfully with Unitarians. We also sang, “Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child” which moved around in me and stirred things up.
Unity is my adopted church. I was raised Lutheran and am grateful for the community in which I grew and learned. It was also a place that did not seem to nourish my desire to seek a deep relationship with the Holy. I was thrilled to study religion in college and wrestle with all that I had been given. For a long time I found no nourishment in Christian spaces and when I desired to be a part of a worshiping community, I first adopted the Quakers and then I adopted you. It has been a joy to be among fellow seekers where the path to our own answers is honored and informed by the gathered community.
These past few years have brought an unexpected twist to that journey. To use the metaphor, my birth parents found me and we have been re-establishing a relationship. Suddenly what I had felt lost feels profoundly found. My original belonging to Jesus has been transformed and is meeting me now, exactly as and where I am. Sometimes, though, it does feel like I live in two worlds a belonging both to my birth family and my adopted family. Both in Christian and Unitarian spaces I can feel like a motherless child.
This is one of the reasons I show up each Sunday to be with your children. I want them to feel that our community is their home, that they are loved here. I want them to know by the attentiveness of their teachers that someone other than their parents see and love them. That we are all family. I want our belonging to each other to help us feel less alone and more willing to explore in the safety of our church home.
I have adopted Unity because it offers me the possibility of belonging to something honest, true and resonant for me. I adopt Unity because I want to offer that belonging to others in our community. I want our home to be hospitable and mutually inviting. If you have come from some other place, why have you adopted this community? If Unity is your birth family, why do you choose to stay? Our freedom to come and go creates an authenticity in our community that I haven’t experienced in other congregations.
I believe our freedom in the classroom to sit where is comfortable, to pass if we need to, to play alone or with friends, creates a different version of authenticity that helps our children practice their choice making and gives them skills that all seeker’s need: a sense of play and safety, a sense of courage and risk taking, the ability to try on new things, the practice of allowing for difference and the honoring of difference.
My hope for us is that we journey together in our exploration, that we adopt each other and care for each other in turn, that we follow our hearts desire and reach out to each other for support. I hope that if and when we feel like a motherless child, that all our adopted family are there to welcome us home.