Before too much time passes, I wanted to offer a few more comments and thoughts on the Generous Spaciousness Conference Retreat I attended 10 May through 13 May. In particular, I want to reflect more on one of my reasons for going and what I found out:
Generous Spaciousness offers a possible alternative [for living peaceably with Christian friends and family members] to those choices [hiding parts of who I am or limiting how much time I spend with certain people], and it’s an alternative that I want to place hope in. Going to the retreat was, in many ways, an attempt to gauge how much hope I should allow myself to put in Generous Spaciousness.
At the retreat, I found a great deal of welcome and a willingness to walk with me no matter where I was in my own journey. I found that people were seeking to make Generous Spaciousness as open as they possibly could. In fact, I remember another member of my community group turning to me at the breakfast table and asking me if I had found the even very generous or spacious, given the fact that I followed a completely different faith tradition. It suggested to me that he was considering how his spaces could be more welcoming, even beyond the bounds and dimensions of human sexuality.
I’ll also note that while many people commented on my bravery for attending the event, I found my fellow community group member’s choice to ask that question pretty brave in itself. It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to ask another person if they perceive you and your comrades as welcoming and hospitable as you perceive yourself to be.
For the record, by and large, the answer to that question was a resounding yes on my part. Oh there were a few things here and there, mainly what seemed to be a couple assumptions about people who land outside the Christian faith. But I saw these as mostly minor things, the sort of thing that would be resolved by further dialogue. What was far more important to me was the desire to have that dialogue and how many seemed open to allowing that dialogue to challenge them. I think this was most likely due to the fact that I was dealing with people who have experienced what it’s like to be misunderstood and seen inaccurately (a la validity prisms and straw men) by others and have combined that experience with their capacity for empathy, creating a desire to better understand those they themselves and lose their own preconceived notions along the way.
Of course, this raises the question of how well other people — including the people who are in my life on a more regular basis — would do. After all, the retreat was full of a self-selected sample of people who wanted — and in many cases — likely needed Generous Spaciousness. It may still be a long time before Generous Spaciousness gains traction with a less intentional gathering of people. I have high hopes that it will gain that traction in time, however.