What’s Right About Right Relations?

by Louise Wilkinson

If I’m supposed to do things right, why didn’t I get a rehearsal?  Why wasn’t there a practice round instead of this constant stumbling forward using trial and error?  Why are things so complicated, and why are there so many different views of what is “right”?

We may have lived many years and been generally very successful.  Or we may be young and still sorting out how to live.  Yet likely all of us are still struggling with situations that challenge all we’ve learned – all the “rules” for how to live well, love well, and create joy.

And this goes for our lives at church, and the directions of the church as a whole.  East Shore has faced far more than its share of challenges in the last number of years, and all of us are struggling to figure out how to do things “right.”

So “Right Relations” comes along and acts like they have the answer!  Well, guess what!  We don’t.  We are stumbling, making mistakes, trying things and failing, and trying things and seeing some new glimpses of love, of joy.

What we are learning as we bump along, trying to instill deeper love in our own hearts and our church, is that doing things “right” can be the enemy of love.  Even striving for “right” can have unintended impacts that hurt others.  We’ve done that.  We’ve all done that.

And we know that striving for love is the “right” direction for us, and for East Shore, and that means looking at all the ways we engage with each other to accomplish our goals, and discerning the unintended impacts on others whom we neglected to fully consider.  It’s learning to consider them, and more than that, inviting them in to share fully in all of our activities.

This is what inclusion means, and what anti-racism is about.  And this is the intention behind our “right relations” efforts, circles, and restorative practices.  We are inviting members of this community to examine what we have settled on as right interactions and procedures to see more deeply how they can exclude and harm – and to actively seek practices that include, support, and build love.

And we in “right relations” are stumbling along ourselves about how to do this, and ask that you join us!  It is most likely that the reason we humans were not given rehearsal time to learn how to do life right, is that the relationships built as we stumble along side each other is doing it “right.”   The exploration itself, undertaken with humility and the knowledge that we don’t already know “right,” is what creates living well, loving well, and joy – because we hold each other as we face these challenges together.