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?
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.”
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.
I deeply appreciate The VUU taking time to begin a conversation about Earth-Centered UUism. I would love to see more of these types of conversations as there are many aspects of our Sixth Source manifesting in the hearts, minds and lives of Unitarian Universalists all over the world!
A great reminder that we have SIX Sources. The sixth is not merely an add on, rather, it is meant to be an integral part of our Living Tradition. I believe each source is meant to be active and accessible… and accepted. Yet, the whole of our sources are often left out of (or showing up more than moderately-diluted in) our “religious” services in exchange for the secularization that affirms our justice and social action principals with the reciting of profound logical quotes, psycho-political analysis, and calls to action for public witness on behalf of the most popular claimed causes.
I wonder what our Faith would look like if we went to Church on Sunday mornings (or Wednesday afternoons, or Friday evenings – – or each of these times every week) to be transformed? I wonder how many of our children would remain active members in our Faith Tradition if they were included in our now mostly adult services, rather than segregating them and hosting only a few intergenerational gatherings each year? I wonder if those among us who are taking up the mantles to be active in social justice activities would have more strength to do so if fortified by spiritually-centered community practices?
I suspect we would be stronger and more united in The Beloved Community if our worship services were rooted in the kinds of rituals, liturgy and ceremony found within the sources we are called to draw our faith from. There is so much benefit to be derived by incorporating authentic ritual into our services as well as including our children in the practice of worship. I believe there to also be benefit in having group-identified places of gathering, sharing and nurturing such as found within the sacredness of affinity and covent groups, as well as youth camps, etc. Yet to completely segregate our children from the core religious services seems at odds with our motto of “inclusion.” And in opposition to expressed desires for our children to claim this Faith as their own when they advance into maturity. If we want to pass the torch of the Unitarian Universalist Faith Tradition to the next generations, we need to include them in the Unitarian Universalist Faith Tradition.
I also am grateful that Catharine named the Women’s movement as pivotal to bringing our Sixth Source to life in our Living Tradition.UU Women and Religion (UUWR) is still active and accessible, dedicated to lifting up Women’s spirituality in our faith, preserving archives, creating curriculum and programs that honor our lived experiences of the divine.
I encourage you to join Catharine’s The Way of the River Facebook group – – and be prepared for how special Mondays are as group members are prompted to share “Beloved Selfies”: a beautiful way to witness and honor each other where ever we are in the world and on our journeys.
Rev. “Twinkle” Marie Manning, founder of UU Women’s Heart, member of the Unitarian Universalist Society for Community Ministries and UUWomen and Religion leadership team, speaks about the importance of multi-media outreach.
This video was inspired by All Souls Tulsa’s video featuring a member that lives in the UK, found here:
I LOVE THIS! Stories like this are why I use many forms of media and outreach to live into my call.
It is why we created projects like UU Talks and virtual Minerva Potlucks.
It is why so many entrepreneurial ministries are using innovative outreach and service platforms. It is why when I do consulting for groups and congregations, encouraging all to incorporate a media component, at least audio and digital-text copies of sermons and services online, but whenever possible integrate video into their ministries. (my background is television so I aim for the highest quality production possible, but seriously – – if you have an iPhone and a gmail account or Facebook account, you have all the technology you need to expand the reach of your ministry – – it may not be the highest quality, but it is a viable option) People are looking for us. Let’s help them find the kind of salvation we have to offer. Help them find a safe and fulfilling place to call their spiritual home. #UUTalks#UULife#UUWomensHeart#StandingOnTheSideOfLove#UUWR
As we enter this time of Thanksgiving, may we remember:
When we live Life as a prayer, our actions uphold and support the belief in, and realization of, the inherent worth and dignity of every person even if, and especially when, every person does not do the same for us.
Let our gatherings with family, and in community, be filled with peace and love and thankfulness for the blessings we have. May we always and all ways be blessings to each other. Amen.