I have been truly blessed this past Lent to have stumbled onto Brene Brown and her fabulous work on shame, vulnerability, courage and authenticity. I cannot even recall which 'pin-a-day' led me to her TED Talk, and then led me to the audiobook and now to dozens of new pins on various Pinterest pages. (By the way, I want to offer that Audiobooks/lectures are wretched for highlighting and copying and pasting. And the CC transcript is an endearingly frustrating moment by moment chart of sentence fragments.)
As I read Dr. Brown's books I certainly find compelling meaning for my own journey. I also find myself thinking about church and camp. Her work has me thinking about the systems of church that stifle vulnerability in search of liturgical precision and act out from places of shame. I am thinking about the church we are and the one we are searching to become. Brene Brown's fabulous work and writings also have me considering the unwritten rules of life that we offer in our local settings, such as congregations and camps. We may need to make them more written and less implicit. Words matter. Saying who we are and who we desire to be can help us to become those people. There may be formation folks and church leaders who want nothing to do with whole hearted practices. I hope we can love them into daring greatly to be Christ's people in the world.
The leap from the Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto to congregational and camp life isn't very far or very deep, however my guess is it could fill a dissertation with insights. While not pretending to seek such volume, my Easter and Pentecost goal will be to spend time writing about each one of these phrases and how they manifest in our life together as formation leaders. Hmm. Adventure vacation approaching fast...maybe this will be my before camp starts goal.
To begin, I am going to simply 'remix' the 'Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto' into a 'Wholehearted Formation Ministries Rule of Life'. Most of the remix is moving from the singular to the ecclesiastical local corporate. The author Brene Brown admits to being Episcopalian (and I guessed it without her confession (what is it that makes us so easily 'identifiable'?)) so I am going to hope that she will see this remix as a holy prayer of thanksgiving. Rumor is she will be joining the FORMA event in Houston next winter, so I can ask for forgiveness then. The remix/additions are in italics.
The Wholehearted Formation Rule of Life (Draft 1)
Above all else, we want you to know that you are loved and lovable.
You will learn this from our words and actions–the lessons on love are in how we treat you and how we each treat ourselves.
We want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see each of us practice self-compassion and embrace our own imperfections.
We will practice courage in our ministry by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our gatherings for both.
We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be ministry values, as well as ministry practices.
You will learn accountability and respect by watching us make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how we ask for what each of us need and talk about how each of us feel.
We want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.
We want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.
When uncertainty and scarcity visit, we will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.
Together we will cry and face fear and grief. We will want to take away your pain, but instead we will sit with you and be open to your experience of feeling it.
We will laugh and sing and dance and create.
We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other.
No matter what, you will always belong here.
The greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.
We will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but we will let you see each of us, and we will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you.
Truly, deeply, seeing you.