2013-03-25

A Way of Life

Our great need, our overriding need, is for connection. That's particularly true in these modern (and postmodern) times. Every age of human history has had its problems: there has never been a utopia. But life is now so fast-paced, frantic, and hectic, so awash in visual and auditory stimulation, so distracted, so demanding of us to to play multiple roles, wear many hats, juggle complex and competing demands, that it is harder today than in past generations to feel connected or to be connected. We are pulled in so many different directions within such short spans of time, that our age generates fragmented lives in greater proportion than past ages.

We don’t connect well with the needs of our neighbors. We don’t connect well with the life we find around us, the beauty we are surrounded by. We don’t connect well with ourselves. But there’s hope. There’s hope and there’s help. It's at your nearest Unitarian Universalist congregation, for our congregations exist to heal that wound of disconnection. Our congregations bring people together to help each other connect to themselves, listen to their deepest selves – the abiding presence amidst the cacophony of inner voices. Our congregations bring people together to help each other connect to life, open to the abundant gifts freely given – the grace that we cannot earn, and from which we cannot be dispossessed. Our congregations bring people together to help each other connect to the world’s injustice and suffering, serve needs greater than our own – for we cannot come into our own healing and wholeness without connecting also to the world’s pain and those left behind.

A religion is a way of life. I know it is common these days to think of religion as merely the performance of certain rituals or mental assent to certain creedal statements, neither of which have much connection to the rest of one’s life. Or, as The Cynical Dictionary defines religion: “Mythology collected to establish the social discipline of your neighbor.” It’s tempting to think of religion this way when we look at other people’s religions. Actually, anything worthy of the name religion is a way of life. By removing the creedal statements, Unitarian Universalism becomes more conscious of itself as a way of life, in community.

To choose the Unitarian Universalist way of life is to choose a path of healing the disconnection, of being more intentional about strengthening the connections to ourselves, to others, and to life itself. Where we have become disconnected from ourselves, our path is to learn again how to hear and heed the inner wisdom of the true self so often muffled in the pursuit of achievements and material acquisition. Where we have become disconnected from the world’s beauty, our path is to learn again how to bask in the grace of gifts which we have not earned and do not deserve. Where we have become disconnected from the world’s needs, our path is to serve the needs of other people, of other beings, and of the planet itself.

Our great and overriding need is to create connection.

The Unitarian Universalist way of doing that, in short, is by listening to our deepest selves, by opening to life’s gifts, and by serving needs greater than our own. It begins with listening to ourselves, connecting to the true self. That’s easier said than done. It is an ongoing life project. You might say we’re addicted to letting certain of our inner voices work harder and longer shout louder than they really need to, and, as with any addiction, we can be recovering, but are never recovered.

We gather to help each other – and learn how to help each other – on that path. There's a lot to learn about how to do that -- a lot of detail beyond the scope of this blog. But I’ll tell you this much. As the fish and game warden and the woman said to each other, "You have all the equipment. You could start at any moment."

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This is part 4 of 4 of "Would You Listen to Yourself"
Previous: Part 3: "Manager Firefighter Exile"
Beginning: Part 1: "Self-Disconnection"