Skip to main content

Shipwrecked: 3) Create a Covenant

You've been shipwrecked on a deserted island. Realizing you'll be here for an indefinite amount of time, you've assessed your resources, and figured out how you can repurpose some of them to help you in this new life. Now what?

Oh yeah. Those people living with you.

Whenever one is starting a new community, whether it is in the London tubes during the Blitz or a deserted island, or a church, or a family that is now quarantined together, it is good to articulate the expectations of the group members, and come to a shared set of agreements.

In Unitarian Universalism, we often refer to this as a covenant, a set of promises the group commits to. They have a simple starting exercise that I have repeatedly found helpful:

Give each member of the community an index card and a pen. On one side, each person writes three things they are willing to promise the rest of the group. On the other side, three promises they would like from the group.

After everyone has done that, first discuss the promises everyone is willing to make. Then, the promises wanted. Then, you get down to writing your covenant. Were there items on multiple cards? Things that everyone agrees with? Write them down. They can be lofty or pragmatic. Promises about treating each other with respect ... and a promise that everyone will take turns emptying and refilling the ice cube trays, and under no circumstances is it okay to empty a tray and not refill it.

Maybe that's just my family - but hey, it's important to us. Every household has their own "ice cubes."

Once you have your list, then address the inevitable: what happens when you break the covenant. Because you will, that's just how human community works. How will you come back into covenant?

Once your covenant is agreed upon, write it up, and put it somewhere prominent. It doesn't need to be elegant. The refrigerator is fine. Someplace where everyone can see it, and where you can revisit it. Perhaps some things will be modified, while other things will need to be added. We don't know what life will be like 2 months from now. Things change.

Here's the thing: everyone has expectations. The problem is when it is assumed that everyone knows and agrees with the expectations. (They don't.) My colleague, Rev. Brian Ferguson, puts it succinctly: "Unarticulated expectations are premeditated resentment."

And you don't need resentment growing on your island.

Tomorrow: Shipwrecked: 4) Create a Routine


Popular posts from this blog

Whole Church Worship

TL;dr -- Our church does "Whole Church Worship," or "All Ages Are Together for the Whole Service, Every Service, Every Week." I've been getting a lot of questions about this. Here are some answers. Preface: For some reason, I occasionally run into people from other churches who want to explain to me all the reasons this won't work at their church. Sure. I'm not trying to talk you into this. You do you, Bub. Whole Church Worship is working at our church, at this time. Live Oak is pretty special, and I don't know that there are many things we do that would work any other place, including our Chili, Chocolate, and Karaoke Party. But that's a post for another day.  Okay, then. So, I first got involved in Whole Church Worship as a result of a fit of pique - my own. This was before I was a minister. At my home congregation, we had "Children's Chapel," and we had reached the point where we couldn't get anyone signed up to coordin

Post-Pandemic and the Expectations of Others

  We have the hope that the covid-19 pandemic's end is in sight ... and it's bringing up a lot of feelings. Not all of them happy .  Many of us are feeling some level of anticipatory anxiety.  The anxiety is rooted in a fear that almost all of us have, in some form or another. The fear that others will make us do something we don't want to do. Whether it is through what can feel like the aggression of "your job depends on this," or the polite friendliness of social obligations, we pre-emptively worry about being dominated.  Look, the pandemic made saying "No" to in-person events super easy. So easy, in fact, that we didn't even have to say no, because no invitations were forthcoming. We didn't have to send regrets, we were all living in a world where responsible people didn't get together. Heck, those of us who before might feel we were being antisocial could now feel self-righteous! A win/win!  I kid, but only a little.  We anticipate that p

"I Don't Know Who I Am Now" or The Importance of Not Assuming for a While

The next 5 months are probably going to be kinda weird. Uncertainty and anxiety flying all over the place. Duck! And then after that ... it's also going to be kinda weird, but a different kind of weird, as we move into the After Times, and figure out what exactly they're going to be like, and what exactly WE are going to be like.  It is in times like these, that I like to turn to art to help make sense of it all.  I refer, of course, to the art known as the television series Doctor Who. I mean, if we know things are going to be weird, we probably should look at some art that deals with the weird, right? Now's the time to examine Hieronymous Bosch and Marc Chagall. And Doctor Who, that time-traveling, face-shifting hero.  Part of the Doctor Who story (and why it's been able to keep going so long) is that rather than die, the Doctor regenerates, retaining who they are, but with a different face, body, and to a certain extent, a different personality.  Immediately after t