Each year, sometime around the New Year, we spend a worship service doing an inventory of our lives together in past year. We review our covenant and assess the ways we have kept covenant and the ways we have broken covenant. The exercise calls us to mindfulness and to renew our commitment to the promises we have made to one another and to the Sacred as members of this community.
When we engage in this process I encourage us to be in a stance of growth and challenge rather than breast-beating and guilt. (Which, as we all know, are never healthy and often stunts growth rather than encourages it.) When we are frightened of making mistakes or of failure, we severely limit our capacity for growth and change. So these are the things I invite us to hold in one hand while we evaluate our communal and personal lives on the other:
1- as St. Benedict reminds us, always we begin again. Each new day and week and month and year offers the opportunity to choose to begin again.
2- living a spiritual life is more about journey than destination. Our goal is not to arrive at perfection but to live into each moment as fully human, fully aware, and fully engaged people of spirit as we are able.
3- inventory is like confession, it is a time of seeing ourselves clearly so that we might be more mindful of our choices.
In worship we see confession as taking a stance of vulnerability and authenticity before Godde. We remind each other that speaking our truth is necessary for healing and transformation. In a larger sense, taking our yearly inventory invites and calls us to self awareness - both as individuals and as a community- of the promises we have kept and the ones we have not. Covenantal relationship with the Creator is a two way street, a relationship of implied mutuality. Godde's keeping covenant is not dependent on whether or not we keep covenant (our word, our intention) but our relationship with Godde suffers when we do not.
And so each year we look around and ask: who is not at the table? And we ask if we have made space that is safe for those who are NOT here as well as for those who are. And we ask where we have been compassionate and where we have fallen short. Where and on whose behalf have we sought justice? And where have we been silent? In what ways are we and are we not in right relationship with Godde? Have we listened for Sacred leading?
Every year the challenge to be more fully who we are called to be as Godde's people excites and ignites us. We remember things we didn't realize had been forgotten. We experience renewal of commitment. Sometimes, we remember our passion. Always, we are called more deeply into our journey with one another and with Godde.
Maybe once a year is not enough.