Laura Park, Beloved Community Staff Team and Director of Membership, and Shelley Butler, Beloved News Team
SoulWork is the term we use at Unity Church for when we engage our Unitarian Universalist faith formation and antiracist multicultural work together. We use a Double Helix model to invite the congregation into this SoulWork and the SoulWork practices, models, tools, and an eight-part video series help us live into increasing complexity on this double helix.
Each video in the SoulWork series provides clarity on the what, why, and how of antiracist multiculturalism, and offers ways to develop practices on both sides of the Double Helix Model. The first in the series of videos focused on the practice of noticing and listening. The second has to do with the spiritual practice of presence, a key skill in grounding us in this work and what will help us sustain it.
Preoccupied presence is the norm. We tend to approach a conversation or group work with some trepidation and a screen; thoughts and questions that distract us from being fully present: I want people to know I am serious about this work–am I coming across as I want? What will people think of me if I say or do the wrong thing?
Sometimes without even realizing it, we present a persona to others, a somewhat perfected version of our authentic self. It’s understandable because it can be scary and uncomfortable to unveil ourselves and risk showing that our values may not always align with our actions. But given that we are all in this work together, and that one of our ends is to “know each other in all our fullness,” isn’t this the right place and time to practice being fully present with each other and with those we partner with in the community?
Wonder. Heart. Clarity. These are what can come from the spiritual practice of presence, but also what we are likely to miss if we don’t.
How do we practice being fully present with others? Meditation is one practice of being fully present Within. To practice presence Among, first let go of the inner critic that tells you that you are not enough, that you need to present a persona of who you want people to think you are. As Alfonso says, “Presence is more important than personality.” Then, let go of all the distractions of the day, pay attention to the person or group at hand, and allow yourself to “lean into the quality of presence that interconnects us all.”
At the same time that SoulWork invites us into deeper self-awareness, it does not intend for that to turn into self-criticism. Noticing and presence are two practices to help us achieve open-hearted engagement in faith and social justice work.
SoulWork for you: After watching the second video in the SoulWork series, consider your reaction to the suggestion to practice being fully present. What about this practice makes you uncomfortable or feels different to you? What about the practice of presence offers the opportunity for joy and deeper connection?
Next: SoulWork #3 – Heart Work
Previous: SoulWork #1 – The Soul Work of Unity Church
To learn more about SoulWork, please visit our Adult Faith Formation page. There you will find a link to the Double Helix Model of Faith Formation and Antiracist Multiculturalism worksheet to help you develop practices for Within, Among, and Beyond. Visit Unity’s YouTube Channel, SoulWork Playlist to view all eight videos in the series.
Image credit: Graphic Recording by DrawingImpact.com
Beloved Community Resources
Unity Justice Database
Team Dynamics House of Intersectionality
Anti-Racism Resources in the Unity Libraries Collection
Creative Writers of Color in Unity Libraries
The History of Race Relations and Unity Church, 1850-2005
Beloved Community Staff Team
The Beloved Community Staff Team (BCST) strengthens and coordinates Unity’s antiracism and multicultural work, and provides opportunities for congregants and the church to grow into greater intercultural competency. We help the congregation ground itself in the understanding of antiracism and multiculturalism as a core part of faith formation. We support Unity’s efforts to expand our collective capacity to imagine and build the Beloved Community. Here, we share the stories of this journey — the struggles, the questions, and the collaborations — both at Unity and in the wider world.
The current members of the Beloved Community Staff Team include Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, Rev. KP Hong, Rev. Lara Cowtan, Barbara Hubbard, Drew Danielson, Laura Park, Lia Rivamonte and Angela Wilcox.