I believe that we are all mere human beings trying to make sense of our existence; so we should keep that in mind when we interact with one another. We are one people, composed of many persons. "God" is found in the love we share. The only way to get to that holy place is to practice more love!
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Every year, the days grow noticeably shorter. The temperature drops. Everything slows down except such year-round obligations as, say, going to work and paying bills. Included among the things that slow down are my energy and the capacity to deal with all the things that seem to speed up in comparison to my spirit’s attempt at hibernation. In short, I usually find winter to be a depressing season that I just have to survive until it’s over, and some years are easier than others.
I moved to Baltimore in September 2003, about two weeks before the autumnal equinox. Having no family in the area, and knowing only two people in the city, this was a time of great adjustment for me. I immediately became half of a new couple that had a brief and tempestuous relationship, ending two weeks before Christmas. It was devastating, and that may well have been the hardest winter of my life. I somehow made it through, but I would continue to see the season as a grave hardship that, unfortunately, I would have to battle every single year for the rest of my life.
I hadn’t really been a big fan of Christmas since leaving the United Methodist Church. The scars from my disputes with Christianity had not yet really begun to heal, and the overly-commercialized mess (in my opinion) that the holiday had become was a real downer and left a bad taste in my mouth. If I had thought to do so, I might have said a hearty “bah, humbug!” – but as it was, my focus was on making it to spring and trying not to feel left out entirely from winterly festivities. This was no easy task.
Then my church here in Baltimore started holding worship services on the day of the winter solstice. At first, there was a very small gathering in our parish hall, and it was quite an intimate, interactive and embodied affair. I don’t recall whether it had a specifically Wiccan bent, but it may have. In subsequent years, it was moved to our sanctuary and morphed into something more recognizable as a “Protestant-style” worship service, which was nice for some and not as nice for others. It has since become one of the most largely attended events on our church calendar and is the winter holiday of choice for many, including myself.
Learning about and celebrating the natural source of so many festivals of light meshed well with my understanding of my reaction to winter and made the mythic stories of the season more palatable. I simply wasn’t getting enough sunlight, and didn’t feel any personal connection to the winter festivals with which I was familiar. Acknowledging the reality of the solstice in story, ritual, and song [and by using a Happy Lite®, and a daily regimen of vitamin D, and a new attitude…], welcoming the return of the “light of the world” each year, has helped me to see that the season I so despised is part of a natural cycle in which I can find both joy and wonder. Instead of brooding melodramatically until the trees begin to bloom in the spring, I can actually enjoy the unique opportunities winter presents. Well, I still brood, but now I can actually live through the winter instead of just trying to survive it.
In addition to celebrating the Solstice, for the past six Decembers I have even gone with my partner’s family to their Lutheran Christmas Eve Service and celebrated Christmas with them as well. I enjoy spending the holiday with them even if I don’t claim it as my own. There’s something beautiful about so many people across so many diverse cultures trying to find a way to literally survive the winter. I might not ever have understood this as one of the origins of the Christmas story, which tells of a people celebrating the birth of the Sun/Son, the Light of the World, if it weren’t for the annual Winter Solstice service in my Unitarian Universalist congregation. Seeing the commonalities between the two and celebrating both, in my own way, is one of the most hopeful things I can do in this season.
We turn the wheel of the year; what is old dies and is born again.
May it be so!
Thursday, November 24, 2011
O God - Source of all,
Dear Spirit of Life,
We are thankful for this day of gathering, feasting and celebration; for the opportunity once again to sit and eat and be with one another.
We are appreciative of all hands that made today's meal possible - those that planted, those that tended, those that harvested and prepared, those that cooked and those that served.
We are grateful for the sunlight and the rains, for the soil and its nutrients, for the winds that bore seed - in short, for the wondrous miracle of existence.
We are mindful of all these things and more, on this day, set aside for such a purpose, and we pray that we might carry such mindfulness into all the rest of our days.
May this gathering and the sharing of this meal be blessed and a blessing for all.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I live in order to make progress.
I am here to grow and to learn.
I do not presume to know all the right answers.
I believe in learning from past experience to inform the present and create the future.
My choices inform me, and I learn from mistakes, moving continually into the next level of consciousness.
I believe that Reason is practical, but Myth is transformative.
I believe in my experience as a living sentient being as my primary source of spiritual authority, and I look to it for guidance in day-to-day life. I know that I am not always right, but I embrace intuition, revelation, inspiration and reason as sources of comfort in making confident life decisions. I believe in accepting the limits of my intellect and wisdom, and I also believe that these limits are not permanent, but ever-expanding.
I believe that human beings are inclined toward goodness and wholeness – that we are influenced by our environment and experience, and in our interactions with others and the greater world. It is human nature to respond; our power lies in the ability to make choices.
I believe in the redemptive symbolism of the Spiral and of the Cycle of Seasons. I believe in the power of connection and influence, and the bliss of wholeness and completion.
I believe in an energy, an ultimate and essential power, which is beyond being named for it encompasses, and it is, all. I believe it is what connects all of life, the earth and its inhabitants, the universe, time, the all there is was and will be. I believe that “God” is a word heavy-laden with burdensome baggage and yet is empty. Nevertheless, the paradox this creates is the Mystery in which I can find Holiness, and so I choose to name the nameless God anyway.
I believe in self-actualization as a primary goal in this life; to reach one’s ultimate potential, to do the best one can, is all that can be asked or expected of each of us. I believe that we are meaning-makers, and that only we have the power to play the hand we’re dealt in life, creating our own purpose as we continue to become. Striving toward Wholeness provides meaning in life. I believe in the process that is Life, and that the Journey is the Destination. I believe that when I die, my sojourn here will have meant something. It is my hope that the Journey continues.
I believe that Love is the greatest gift we can give or receive.
I believe that my life should be a testament to all these things and more;
and so to this end, I will try to live by these 10 minimum guidelines:
1. KNOWLEDGE | Know your self, and to your own self be true.
2. COMPASSION | Get to know the “Other”. Spend time in an unfamiliar environment.
3. MERCY | Treat yourself the way you would treat others. We are all equally God’s kin.
4. WISDOM | Seek growth in Wisdom. Find the teachable moment in every situation. Even tragedy is an opportunity for growth.
5. WONDER | Encourage a sense of wonder and awe in yourself and others. You will not understand everything; value the Mystery.
6. GRACE | Practice gratitude and appreciation.
7. CONTRIBUTION | Give of yourself, your time, and your gifts to others. Listen. Learn.
8. EDUCATION | Share your knowledge, wisdom, and experience with others. Teach.
9. WORSHIP | Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy.