Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Next gathering under the #Unitarian banner in Ringwood is on 12th August

From time to time there are constraints on our gatherings.  This July a set of events has occurred which means it will not be possible for us to gather either on our usual second Sunday of the month, or an alternate Sunday.

So this July we are not gathering for reverence.  Our next gathering will be at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 12th August, when we will welcome Rev Martin Whitell to lead our thoughts.

Instead, on the second Sunday of July, some of us will be enjoying the Ringwood Pedal Car Grand Prix - an event which takes over the whole town with great fun and enjoyment for all the family. 

And on the third Sunday of July, some of us will be joining in with the wonderful LGBTIQ+ festival in Bournemouth - "Bourne Free".

So instead of seeing you in the Meeting House in July, perhaps we'll see you at one of those!

#Unitarians in Ringwood consider what shalom might mean in the rush of living in the world

We do our best with the reports of our gatherings, but the personal emotion and engagement during our time together has to be experienced to be believed.

At our gathering on 10 June we felt again the benefits of having a clear, familiar structure to our service.  Introducing the theme, the president for the day freely admitted that the thoughts that she had had in advance, which she was going to deliver, seemed to her to be rather random and unconnected.  But she was confident that everyone present would connect with them, in their own way.  And then, because the ritual is familiar, and open to everyone equally, the random ramblings were framed within a coherent whole, and their randomness did not detract from the experience.

There were the usual openers of the chalice-lighting words and a meditation, followed by a hymn.  We may not produce a good quality sound but we do like to sing!

Next there was our connection ritual in which we silently pass between us a candle (a flame perhaps representing light or love or truth), oat cakes (perhaps for food or bread or earth or body), water (perhaps for spirit or life flow or healing), and a fourth element (perhaps for air or breath or essence or connection).  In the silence each person present has the freedom to determine (or pray) the meaning of the elements for themselves.

Then we had two readings.

The first was by the person known as St John of the Cross.  It was a poem reflecting obliquely on the rich relationship between the author and the primal source of being, hidden by darkness of night.

The second reading was some words by Rowan Williams, culminating with the sentence: “And this is where the desert monastics have an uncompromising message for us: a relationship with eternal truth and love simply doesn’t happen unless we mend our relations with Tom, Dick and Harriet.”

The president then spoke about the swirling thoughts featuring these two ideas - the intimate, one-to-one relationship between a person and the source; and the contrasting need to live and stay living with the people around us, in perhaps grubby and difficult circumstances, if we are to make any spiritual progress.

But the third, random idea that had also occurred was the  concept of shalom/salaam.  A couple of scholarly insights into the word shalom were offered (see boxes).  It was suggested that only a peace that included living with, and in amongst, other people was a useful idea.  Also, that constantly seeking change and change of company, as a solution to spiritual ills, would not in the end be satisfying.

We then continued with the last usual parts of our gathering: lighting candles of joys and concerns, in which we begin to know each other better.  We ended our gathering after another hymn and a prayer.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

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