I like visiting other people’s homes, and visiting people in their homes. We express ourselves in those spaces in ways that are unique, revealing parts of ourselves that may not be on display at work or in public or in our civic lives. As a guest in another’s home, I am offered a glimpse into their life through what I see and hear and smell and feel there. And when I have guests in my home, I’m glad for them to experience a unique bit of me and our family in that place where I feel most myself.
Similarly, I value the rare opportunity to visit other worshiping communities – Unitarian Universalist and others. (I know that many of you visit UU congregations in towns where you travel, and I’m glad you do!) Last Sunday evening I had the privilege of being a guest at Beth Shalom Congregation, where I was invited as a non-Jew to lead a responsive reading as part of the Jewish Federation of Howard County’s annual Yom HaShoah observance. Characteristically, I was a little nervous about my own behavior – hoping that my head covering would stay on my head (an expectation of anyone who speaks from the bima there) and that I would otherwise be appropriately respectful in their sacred space. The experience was moving and humbling.
This weekend I will visit another congregation – the Middle Collegiate Church in New York City’s East Village, where for the third year in a row I’ll attend the Revolutionary Love Conference. I’m looking forward to visiting with old and new colleagues; to hearing from speakers like Valarie Kaur, Van Jones, Bill Moyers, and Jacqui Lewis; to experiencing a few days in the big city; to being a worshiper instead of a worship leader on Sunday, in a service that promises to be lively and engaging; and to bringing home new ideas about how UUCC can be an ever-more-vibrant and robust congregation.
And that’s another great thing about visiting others’ homes and houses of worship – it prompts me to reflect on my own places, to appreciate what I have, to think about how I might apply some new ideas in my own life, and to imagine how that life might grow even more rich and meaningful. It’s good to step out of one’s routine once in a while, to gain new perspective. I’ll look forward to sharing some of what I learn in NYC. Meanwhile, I’ll miss you on Sunday!