A Unitarian Universalist joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence. He’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. “Cold floors,” he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throat and says, “Bad food.” They nod and send him away.
Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. "I quit," he says. "That's not surprising," the elders say. "You've done nothing but complain since you got here."
Imagine Unitarian Universalists taking a vow of silence! Not likely, is it? No, the old joke is that we UU’s don’t believe in heaven but if after we died we came to a fork in the road and two signs, one said this way to heaven and the other said this way to a discussion about whether Heaven exists, we’d choose the discussion group, and it would be to argue against heaven existing!
Yes, we like to talk and we like to learn, and we’re well educated. We are the smartest denomination of them all. Another old joke is that you don’t have to have a Ph.D. to be a UU, but it helps. Why do I say that we are the smartest? Well, other than just looking around at us? Because our kids get the highest SAT scores of any religion-even higher than the Jews! At least that’s what a study said some years ago, anyway, and Lord, knows, we believe, in studies.
So as summer winds down and we gather together to get started again for a new church year, we begin a a process I’m calling ‘co-creation,’ creating community together. Co-creation is what we do with our lives as well; we co-create our own lives- along with some random occurrences, of course, which we have absolutely no control over at all! ?
In a 'PEANUTS cartoon, Charlie Brown is complaining that his ball team always loses (not unkike some teams we are familair with!). Lucy tries to console him by saying, "Remember, Charlie Brown, you learn more from your defeats than you do from your victories. " Charlie Brown replies, "That makes me the smartest man in the world. "
So while we have no control over the outcome, we do have control over what we learn from it and what we do with that leaning- how we learn- especially from our mistakes! And luckily, life will provide us with many lessons to learn from!
Somewhere in my travels I found these ‘Rules For Being Human’ by Cherie Carter-Scott ( Meaning of Life Quote of the Moment: https://www.edepot.com/life.html)
- You will receive a body.
You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period of this time around.
- You will learn lessons.
You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.
- There are no mistakes, only lessons.
Growth is a process of trial and error: Experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”
- A lesson is repeated until learned.
A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.
- Learning lessons does not end.
There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
- “There” is no better than “here.”
When your “there” has become “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”
- Others are merely mirrors of you.
You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.
- What you make of your life is up to you.
You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
- Your answers lie inside you.
The answers to Life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
- You will forget all this. ‘r re It’s all co-creation, co-learning. co-discovery! “I see that at your church convention,” said an old farmer to the preacher, “you discussed the subject – `How to get people to attend church.” I have never heard a single address at a farmer”s convention on how to get the cattle to come to eat. We spend our time discussing the best kind of feed.” Imagine if we did that at schools AND churches- the best kind of feed for people in schools and churches. What will feed our minds and spirits, what will help us co create? There is an native American story about an an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between the two “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” As we come together and share our stories of summer travels of the gathering of the waters from the four corners of the earth to the East Shore of Lake Erie we begin again a new story, a new adventure, a new co-creation. What an exciting time to be together, to walk together, to love one another, and to help one another, and to co create beloved community, to co create religion relationship itself, for like it says on so many of those winning tickets, you must be present to win! YEs, the first part of creation is to be present! In so many ways, we must be fully present! So, let’s begin, my brothers and sisters this holy process of co creation. May it help heal the sick and give us the strength to go on when we are tired and feel burned out and alone. Let us faith in one another and in the spirit of life, not that everything will be all right, for it will not, that I CAN guarantee! But that we can help one another get through whatever it is that challenges us. I share these closing words of my beloved colleague ,Scott W. Alexander
‘In a world with so much hatred and violence,
We need a religion that proclaims the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
In a world with so much brutality and fear,
We need a religion that seeks justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
In a world with so many persons abused and neglected,
We need a religion that calls us to accept one another and encourage one another to spiritual growth.
In a world with so much tyranny and oppression,
We need a religion that affirms the right and conscience and the use of the democratic process.
In a world with so much inequity and strife,
We need a religion that strives toward the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
In a world with so much environmental degradation,
We need a religion that advocates respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
In a world with so much uncertainty and despair,
We need a religion that teaches our hearts to hope, and our hands to care.’
Let us co-create a new year, a goof year, full of love, community and justice.
Amen, Peace, Shalom, (Peace in Hebrew), Assalaamu Alaikum(may Peace be upon you in Arabic), Abrazos a todos (Hugs all around) Namaste, (A Hindu greeting the divinity within you) Blessed Be, and let me add one more blessing that I adapdted from the Spanish long before I went in to ministry. ‘Vaya con Dios’ is Spanish for Good-bye, but literally is ‘Go with God,’ SO I adapted it to say ‘Vaya Con Su Dios, ‘Go with your idea or interpretation of God.’
Peace,Love, Shalom,Salaam, Blessed Be,Namaste, Abrazo a Todos,Vaya con su Dios