The bubble is a special form in nature. A living cell can be contemplated as a bubble-like structure, enclosing protectively the important contents of its variously functioning parts. And yet the cell has an external structure through which energy and matter can pass both ways. New life is created inside the cell, which ultimately splits in two not to die but to continue living, and proving that the whole is more than the sum of its parts and that all is connected. And over time, new life evolves and becomes different life. The Global Sisters Groups were like living cells, spiritual bubbles of life creating more spiritual life, allowing ideas and energy to pass back and forth within and beyond each.
The Global Sisters Groups were an indispensable part of the Convocation. To have designed the structure of the Convocation to include time for such interaction is brilliant. I’d like to give kudos to the powerful thinking and understanding of policy making and organizational management that went into this design. The Global Sisters process for the Convocation was based on the Community Capacity-Building process developed by the UU Partner Church Council.
It is useful to hear dynamic, knowledgeable activist speakers. It is useful in an entirely different way to have a mixed group of women participants dialoguing with one another, and not just talking but mindfully discussing the themes of the Convocation. Women. Women’s needs globally. The horrific inequity and injustice that targets women and children. And what can be done about it, but us, by U*Us and our friends, progressive women of other faiths. To have the combination of hearing keynote speakers of such depth as well as the opportunity to talk about the issues purposefully is the most ideal setup.
There were many Global Sisters Groups. There were many groups because there were almost 600 people to group, and the groups had to be small enough (25 persons) for hearing all participants. They met three times. For change to bubble up, there must be thought leadership input from experts, both well-known and not, and there must be groupings of generally like-minded souls thinking, talking, and solving problems. Imagine the powerful brains and hearts that were meeting three times, listening, thinking, and speaking, focusing their powers on positive change.
In an evolutionary way, new groupings were created by the Convocation, and a new-to-some way of organizing for change as well. Because of the Global Sisters Groups idea, a new energy has evolved from the Convocation – there are conscious multi-national bonds that have been forged and a new vision of how to group to discuss and plan.
Two events that I attended seem to bring together two of the most important aspects of the convocation: the fact that we are aiming toward globalized dialogue among members and friends of a friendly spiritual outlook, for the reason that we know there is suffering and have a vision of our planet and its living beings and structures as we would like to see it become.
The one workshop I was able to attend was called Globalized Theological Conversations. The speaker panel included ministers from England, the U.S., Transylvania, and The Philippines. Their intros to their initial comments were almost like a parable how each person’s intro bubbled from the person before. The first person said she was having trouble with the word “globalized” in the title. The second person said she was having trouble with the word “theological”. The third person said she was having trouble with the word “conversation.” The remarks produced laughter, but with the recognition that the U*U movement is small-ish and spread out among widely differing types of countries with different spiritual beliefs, although within the context of all persons having value and dignity. We can certainly aim for globalized spiritual conversations in a movement that contains theists, non-theists, and atheists.
I heard the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker speak about her research into early symbols of Christian churches. With her research partner, she established that the early church did not have crucifixes and images of death and suffering. Based on their travels and research, they wrote and published a fascinating book, Saving Paradise. The early church had scenes of peace and plenty painted or by mosaic tile, with a teaching Jesus opening his arms in welcome, sharing the plenty around him with the congregants. The scenes are of paradise on earth. The theory is that the introduction of images of death and suffering were useful in creating guilt and rage in service to the institutionalizing church seeking more power and gold. The vision of the Unitarian * Universalist faith or movement has much in common with the early Christian church symbolism – seeking harmony with all living things, understanding the interconnectedness of existence, congregating to serve one another.
To sum up, I close with the famous quote of Frances David, the Transylvanian who established the Unitarian Church there, “We need not think alike to love alike.” I also close with a paraphrase of the words of the Rev. Rebecca Sienes, stating that the church must be involved in the struggle of the people for economic and political justice.
I believe that these two outstandingly positive messages are the ones that U*Us can carry forward in our movement and in our work as part of many local and global bubbles, radiating outward into our communities, the keys to creating globalized theological conversations for saving paradise.
The emotional positive energy and drive that results from these spiritually enriching bubbles, or groups, will cause a great boiling of bubbles into the future, helping to bring closer more quickly the vision of life on earth as a paradise for all to enjoy.
Global Sisters process, plan, and action plans from the Convocation: