Insights: We Need U! by Rev. Marjorie
There are two “U”s in Unitarian Universalism. Our denominational name is probably one of our biggest stumbling blocks for most visitors and new members. Our name is long and unwieldy and does not speak easily to what we all might believe in, without a long clarifying elevator speech. I remember stumbling over the name for this new amazing community that I had joined, Universalistic Unitarians was what I initially told people when I first came out about where I spent my Sunday mornings. For the life of me I just couldn’t get the name right. Not to mention that I did not understand what it really meant to be a UU, I kept waiting for someone to bring out the Kool-Aid because nothing could be this good and not be some kind of crazy cult. I remembering wondering where that other shoe was that was going to drop from some high height to crush my enthusiasm… I remember taking the “new UU class” at Arlington Street Church when I first decided to become a member. The first night I asked a simple question, “Why is the trinity such an issue that we chose to call ourselves, Unitarian?” As you might imagine there were sputters and some attempts to answer with the telling of the history of UUism that did not fill my need to know. My follow up statement was, “there are a lot of cool trinities like Mind, Body, Spirit” that I aspire too – the number three is pretty important in my book. That statement just hung in the air unengaged. Here is the important take away from that night… no one condemned me for asking “why” and ultimately I was the one who needed to seek the answer to my questions about Unitarianism.
With that very first question, asked in earnest, I was clearly destined to become a Unitarian Universalist where one of our guiding tenets is to “question authority.” The secondary symbol of UUism, directly after our sacred chalice, is the question mark – ?. Early on in my “conversion” (I say this tongue-in-cheek with a lot of humor thrown in for good measure) I got involved in and caught the fever for social justice because I felt safe for the first time in a community that held my personal story and my identity sacred. I believed that if society could value all of its citizens, documented or undocumented alike, and work to make the country safe for all of us to flourish without fear, that would be a good thing–a spiritual triumph of sorts. As UUs, or aspiring UUs, we are called to see this world for what it is – the good, the bad and the worst kind of ugly, and we are called to stand up, tug up our shirt sleeves and work to make things better, to aim higher. This was what compelled me to leave my career in high tech and to attend seminary to become a UU minister. I believed that sharing my story of facing fear, loss, and challenge set within a framework of contemporary events and worship could possibly help others reframe their own experiences. For me this life that we know is incredibly spiritual because I choose to see it that way. But, in truth, I also hold that science, mythology, poetry, numerology and every possible belief in-between are equally as amazing, spiritually held or not. That is what I think is amazing about Unitarian Universalism: we endeavor to hold the tension between all beliefs, we encourage evolution of belief. This does not mean we do not hold a singular belief sacred, we just choose not to exclude another’s beliefs in order to be the “winners” or the ones who are right. The one thing that I am certain about for sure in this experience of life is that nothing is certain or permanent. This is scary I know but it gives us a place to begin on a journey to self understanding and soothing.
This month the First Parish of Sudbury, Unitarian Universalist will honor those who are seeking… seeking what you may wonder? How about a spiritual community that believes in the hope that Universal Love can save us all, believes that we can defrost the hardened cynical hearted, believes that all are welcome to bring their differences to the table as long as each of us is willing to have an open heart and mind.
This month is about seeking safety, compassion, a reasonable belief system that you, yes you, craft and evolve as your life evolves. Ultimately we are each responsible for our lives and to intercede in care for others in need. This month we will be reviewing our illustrious history and how we progressed from being part of the congregational church, now known as the United Church of Christ or as one of my UCC colleagues once shared “Unitarians Considering Christ” to this community filled with expansive belief. This month we will be offering stories from new members and those who have stayed with First Parish for half a century or more. This is a month of investigation, questioning, suggesting, walking or rolling together. Also, this is a month to invite those who you have wanted to invite but were afraid or too shy to ask. This month expect a member brunch and a host of discussion about a plethora of topics. If you are interested in engaging in such a conversation and have a specific topic, please let me know.
As much as the world outside of First Parish seems a little scary at times it is our place as UUs to question “why” and to mindfully craft ways in which we can care for those who are in need and whom we need right back. There are two “U”s in Unitarian Universalism because we need one another and we cannot do this work of making meaning alone. We need all of the “you”s that we can gather.
Peace, Beloved Ones.