This sermon on The Spiritual Practice of Right Relationship by Rev. David A. Miller is one I’ve referred to on more than one occasion over the past couple of years. It is ever important, especially when conflicts or misunderstandings arise, for those in positions of power to establish a place of safety and trust. It is important too to be mindful of our assumptions about each other and to respectfully work from a place of gentleness and compassion towards reconciliation and to overcome challenges so that our relationships are loving, and that we may all flourish.
What if hospitality was the pillar of our Faith?
If coming together created sanctuary?
If sharing Joys and Sorrows was the path to enlightenment?
What if our sacred texts were our sermons, poems and songs?
If our principles were our doctrines?
If our covenant was the Hope that binds us?
an excerpt from Pulpit of Peace
Whenever I watch an interview or read an article where people are expressing views and opinions that are counter to my moral compass (and catch myself judging others’ moral compasses) I am reminded of Jonathan Haidt’s book:The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.
Last autumn through this spring I was part of a UU group of community and parish ministers who met via Zoom video calls to study and discuss the book.
The premise of the book, and our conversations therein, was that humans are highly intuitive beings who act first, and justify later based on our moral predispositions. Regardless of where we are religiously/politically, our beliefs, convictions, and values are far less “rational” than we imagine. But because they are built and supported by our tribal/societal norms, they have the appearance of being rational. This trait is seen beyond politics and religion, as it remains true for all group/class subsets we are part of as we “rationalize” with self-interest based on the preservation of our group and/or our group’s ideals.
Understanding this helps create the kind of empathy that can open doors and build bridges. The other good news, as Haidt concludes, is that:
“we all have the capacity to transcend self-interest and become simply a part of a whole. It’s not just a capacity, it’s the portal to many of life’s most cherished experiences.”
May it be so. Amen.
I once preached a sermon where I talked about (as a reflection of my life experienced) always having two buckets – one filled with all things joyful and the other filled with things that bring anything but joy and that they can co-exist, not separate from but part of the whole. We tend to think of emotions as individual. Existing singularly. In pathways to understanding communication within the sphere of human interactions, Aristotle sites emotions with their opposites:
Love and Enmity
Confidence and Fear
Joy and Sorrow
We often align our minds to think that opposing emotions cannot co-exist in the same moment. Kahlil Gibran suggests that joy and sorrow are inseparable. He says that the deeper the sorrow carves into our being (into our hearts), the more joy we can contain. He talks about how when one emotion is active, the other lies in wait.
I would like to suggest that Joy is not the absence of Sorrow. (or any opposing emotions) I feel the two can co-exist. And that when Sorrow presents in its many forms, that if we train our hearts to look and listen,we can discover that Joy has not left the building. That it is still present. May it be so.
“Joy is not the absence of Sorrow. The two can co-exist, not separate from but part of the whole. When Sorrow presents in its many forms, if we train our hearts to look and listen,we can discover that Joy has not left the building. Joy is still present.”
For our family, as we still having one school age child, Summertime is an especially special time of the year. We have more freedom during this season than any other to plan vacations and take spur-of-the-moment adventures and spend time together as a family, and with friends, mostly unhindered by the demands of other things. We know we are fortunate for this. It is a blessing we are grateful for every day. Our wish is that every family can experience this kind of freedom, and, when they do, to choose to take the time to deepen the bonds of love with those who matter most to them.
May we remember that we belong to each other.
And use our time in ways that show we do.