Archive for the 'Minister’s Musings' Category

Mar 24 2018

April Journal: In Our Own Voices – What does it mean to be a people of EMERGENCE?

Published by under Minister's Musings

In Our Own Voices – What does it mean to be a people of EMERGENCE?

“In Our Own Voices” shares congregants’ free-flowing responses to the theme of the month. We draw these responses from on-line surveys and use them in creating worship, small-group ministry content, and other opportunities for spiritual growth.

The question “What does it mean to be a people of Emergence?” draws fewer responses that do many of our other themes. Are we experiencing “survey fatigue”? Or does this word not resonate for others as it does for me? I find something exciting in the possibility of new birth, something fearful but also potentially awesome in the uncertainties that come with change, something life-giving and hopeful in coming more and more fully into ourselves as individuals and as a community.. What do we emerge from, and what do we emerge into? If you were to map the “emergences” in your life, what might they hold in common?

I wonder what will emerge from our exploration of this theme in April? Please join us in worship and small groups to add your voice and to hear from others!

 

Ever emerging with you,

Rev. Nancy

 

·         I think of change, growth and becoming one’s true self when I think of this word emergence. I also get mental pictures of little baby chicks coming out of their shells: peep peep!

·         Emerging from ignorance, apathy, lethargy, fear?

·         I had to look this one up: 1. The process of coming into view or becoming exposed after being concealed. “I misjudged the timing of my emergence.” 2. The process of coming into being, or of becoming important or prominent. As an introvert, neither of these makes me exactly comfortable. I could live with “coming into being,” but important—not so much—and prominent, well … As a member of a church, I love to expose the goodness and also the challenge of living a faithful life. We have far too many “easy” answers presented to us as part of living a “good” life. Most are truly hollow.

·         Hmmm … where are the conflict and resolution in emergence? Everything is always emerging or becoming; nothing is static. How would talking about emergence help me to live my values better? When thinking about emergence, I picture crocuses and daffodils emerging from the soil, so this is appropriate for April. Perhaps the most interesting aspect I can think of is the emergence of hope, which is something we seem to particularly need now.

·         Always growing, always learning, recognizing that nothing in life is static. A willingness to adapt our language, culture, and habits to fit emerging circumstances in healthy ways. Surely, surely, this “coming out” process—the emergence of identity, self-understanding, the capacity to love and to show up—is a lifelong journey, for both individuals and community. I see it in my own story, and in the story of this beloved congregation. I relish the invitation!

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Mar 24 2018

April Theme: What Does It Mean to Be a People of Emergence?

Published by under Minister's Musings

The Hard Labor of Giving Birth to Our Selves

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

 

In the two-character show I Do! I Do!—an old chestnut from the American musical-theater catalogue—the actors play a married couple over the course of 50 years, from newly-wed bliss to the transformations of old age. Pretty early on, the woman, Agnes, goes into labor with their first child. She clings to a bedpost, rocked by pain, while her spouse Michael dithers about, so excited and nervous about new parenthood that he can’t get it together to get them out the door and to the hospital. Agnes’s labor pains grow harder and harder until finally she turns on him, and in a voice that has suddenly dropped two octaves and ratcheted up in decibels, she shouts in no uncertain terms:

Michael! GO GET THE CAR!!!

          When I play Agnes in the Marin Theatre Company production of I Do! I Do!, I ask an obstetrical nurse about the stages of labor, since I haven’t experienced it myself. “Oh, yes,” she says. “When hard labor hits, we never know what will come out of the woman’s mouth.” Some may grow angry—who caused this mess? Some may wonder how they will ever make it through. Surely most expectant parents are filled with anticipation, wonder, and fear: Who will this new person be that they are bringing into the world? Will everything be all right?

          As we enter into this month of April with its theme of Emergence, the metaphor of giving birth keeps rising in my mind. We human beings are constantly called to give birth to the new—in ourselves, in our communities, in our world.

What is longing to be born in you right now? A new career, a new relationship? Some new wisdom or perspective that will help you deal with the stresses that assault us every day? Some new contribution to your family or communities that will Make Love Visible in small but sparkling ways?

What is longing to be born in us as a community right now? We anticipate bringing onto our staff a new Interim Director of Religious Education beginning in June or July. How will we integrate this new person into our life as a Beloved Community? How will this new religious professional, passionate about our faith, help us to learn and grow?

In my life, I have reached the “hard labor” stage of finishing the revisions on the book that Karin Lin and I are writing (working title: Mistakes, Misgivings, and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism). Oh, how this piece of work is longing to be born! And oh, how ready we are to send it on its way!

But we have a few more months of truly difficult “pushing” to get it off to the publisher by midsummer. Like an expectant mother who has other children at home and plenty of other responsibilities to attend to, I feel torn about how to care for everything and everyone at once. Yet I know that this new birth requires some fierce focus in order to get it out into the world, and we hope that the life it takes on will be worth all the sacrifice.

So if you notice a wild look in my eye in the weeks to come—if I take fewer appointments and am slower than usual to respond to emails (my cell phone is always the best way to reach me)—please know that I am still attending to the most crucial aspects of our congregational work together, while encouraging this baby to emerge, full blown, at last.

 

With determination and love,

 

Rev. Nancy

 

 

P.S. The picture shows me as Agnes with Jack Shearer as Michael, singing about our life as new parents, in Marin Theatre Company’s production of I Do! I Do! in the early 1990s.

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Feb 24 2018

March Journal: Soul Matters Spiritual Exercise for Balance

Published by under Minister's Musings

What Does It Mean to Be a People of Balance?
Soul Matters Spiritual Exercises for March
Gathering: Sunday, March 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m., Ramsden Fireside Room
Take our theme of the month deeper by engaging in one or more of these spiritual exercises.

Then join our small group to enrich the experience!

Option A:
A Reminder to Re-Balance

Sometimes balance is as simple as remembering to take a moment to breathe. The problem is
we’re not so good at reminding ourselves and remembering on our own. Take a week this month
and commit to the practice of a “daily pause”—or maybe a few daily pauses. You can keep it
simple by setting an alarm on your phone reminding you to take a break. Or you can use one of
the recommended apps below to help remind and guide you.
You’ll also need to decide what to do during your daily pauses. Some of us will step
away and go for a walk or find a quiet place to be by ourselves. Others will keep it short and
sweet, staying put and just taking 5 deep breaths. Still more will use the time for brief
meditation. Figure out what works for you.
Here are some apps that might help:

Come to the Soul Matters Reflections Group ready to share how it went. Did daily pauses make a
difference? Did you have to readjust your strategy because your first plan wasn’t working? What
exactly helped you re-balance? Deep breathing? Remembering gratitude? Silence? Self-talk?

Option B:

Put Down Their Work & Pick Up Your Balance

Often our imbalance is our own doing. Frequently, we just take on too much. But sometimes it’s
not that simple. Sometimes, our imbalance is about us taking on too much that is not really ours
to do or fix. In other words, it’s often accepting responsibility for other people’s weight and
worry that tips us over. Or as organizational consultant Betsy Jacobson puts it, “balance is not
better time management, but better boundary management.”
This exercise invites us to regain our balance by letting go of that which is not ours. The
instructions are as simple as they are challenging:

Identify one way in which you are taking on something
that is not really your responsibility.

Then find a kind way to put up a boundary
and give another’s “work” back to them.

Here’s a great reflection by Rev. Meg Barnhouse to give you some motivation: Sorry, Hon, Not My Table, by Rev. Meg Barnhouse https://www.questformeaning.org/big-questions/sorry-hon-not-table/

Come to your group ready to share what you “gave back,” how you put up that boundary, and how it offered you a bit of balance. There will likely be some bumps in the road and some costs. Come ready to share those, too, along with what the exercise taught you.

Option C:

Finding Balance by Facing FOMO

FOMO is a trendy acronym that stands for the “fear of missing out.” FOMO has reached
epidemic proportions in our culture these days, throwing us and the culture itself out of balance.
We are constantly bombarded with tempting choices about what to do or who to try to be next.
We may see daily reminders that “others” have achieved the kind of life we want, while we feel
stuck or held back.
FOMO can keep us focused on ourselves, instead of on our connections to others. FOMO
can affect our self-esteem, our anxiety levels, our capacity to become our own best selves, our
ability to gather together to make a difference for good in the world … and more.
What is your experience with FOMO?
Spend some time this month noticing when and how the “fear of missing out” arises in
your mind, heart, body, and spirit. Just make a note of the feeling and its causes when they arise.
No need to judge them.
Before the Soul Matters Reflections Group on March 25, spend some time reflecting on
what you have noticed about your experiences of FOMO.
You might take a look at one or both of these resources. They are not perfect—they feel
gendered to Rev. Nancy, and they may not speak to you. Still, you may be able to translate their
messages into something useful for your own reflection.

Come to the Soul Matters Reflections Group on March 25 ready to share what you have learned
and what you’re going to do with your insight.

~ SOUL MATTERS REFLECTIONS GROUP MEETING DATES ~

Sunday, March 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Balance
Sunday, April 29, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Emergence
Sunday, June 3, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Imagination
Sunday, June 17, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Blessing

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Feb 24 2018

March Journal: In Our Own Voices – Balance

Published by under Minister's Musings

In Our Own Voices: What does it mean to be a people of BALANCE?

“In Our Own Voices” shares congregants’ free-flowing responses to the theme of the month. We draw these responses from on-line surveys and use them in creating worship, small-group ministry content, and other opportunities for spiritual growth.

Here are just a few of the responses we received for this month’s theme of Balance. What would you want to add?

 

With you in the spirit of seeking and growing,

Rev. Nancy

 

·         To be a people of balance means being very mindful of one’s decisions and practices. I think it also means accepting the bad weather of our lives and trying to make the best of things. Seeking. We don’t stay in balance, but we can always try to find it.

·         Oh, dear me. Balance can be such a shaming concept for those of us who feel overcommitted and overwhelmed, who find ourselves dropping balls right and left. But if I sense balance to be that beautiful place of flowing inbreath and outbreath, of BOTH/AND-ness, then I feel the peace that such balance can bring. “Moderation in all things, even moderation”? I’m not sure that old quote works for the times when we need to be “all in,” passionately devoted to a cause or a person. But when it comes to my internal work, the balance of self-love-as-I-am and self-improvement-as-the-gift-of-living feels like a worthy dance.

·         We try to balance work and play; eating for pleasure and eating for nutrition; freedom and restriction (particularly in parenting); physical activity and rest; organization and spontaneity; indoors and outdoors; self-care and caring for others. Perhaps the more interesting and challenging thing to talk about is how to regain our balance when we have lost it.

·         This is my worst issue. I love music, adore liturgy, and care mightily about my family life. I find it hard to care about things that really might make my life easier, like discipline in spending. I find I depend on others to work those issues, and occasionally it really bites me. Balance? Maybe next year!

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Feb 23 2018

March Theme: What Does It Mean to Be a People of BALANCE?

Published by under Minister's Musings

Balance as a Springboard, Not a Still Point

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones, with help from the Soul Matters Sharing Circle

 

When we talk about balance, it’s natural for calm and rest to be the first things that come to mind. After all, so many of us are tired. We’re overworked, overcommitted, and fearful. Stress undergirds most of our days. We may be so weighed down by worry and responsibility that just one drop of something unexpected can tip us right over.

So, yes, we long for rest. Yes, we want less to manage and absorb. Yes, we need balance’s reminder that finding a place of calm is possible—even in the midst of a troubling world, even in the midst of circumstances that frighten us.

Yet pointing us to peace and calm is not all that balance is about. This month’s work on balance offers us fresh and hopeful perspectives.

Thank goodness we Unitarian Universalists draw on wisdom and inspiration from many spiritual traditions! Here’s a glimpse of the search for balance through the lens of religious holidays in March:

The Christian observance of Lent reminds us that balance is a place of reassessment, renewal, preparation, and even repentance. It honors the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his ministry and the life that would lead to his death on the cross. The balance he seeks in the desert is not that of restful escape but that of restorative recentering. Balance gets Jesus ready, rather than simply offering him relief.

During Passoverparticipants retell the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt after centuries of slavery. (Stay tuned for news of FUCSJ’s Seder, to be held in early April!) In this season, balance is a matter of remembering, of pausing to put ourselves back into a story that connects us with others and anchors us in a countercultural narrative. During Passover, the balance we find is not that of calm but that of reconnection.

Ostara, the Pagan celebration of the Vernal Equinox, honors the balance of day and night, and it celebrates the way this balance is a tipping point on the way to Spring. It’s a reminder that still points are rarely still. They are a place of turning, a space where shifts happen and new life emerges.

The Hindu holiday of Holi offers a celebration that restores our belief in the power of good over evil. It reminds us that balance and calm aren’t just found by taking a break from life, but by trusting in its goodness once again.

These March holy days remind us that balance is not simply a destination but also a place of invitation. It’s not a static space of peace, as much as a still point on which we pivot and turn to something new. It’s not just about rest, but about resting up for a journey.

Yes, balance allows us to catch our breath, but it’s also about finding our center so we can end all our aimless wandering and point ourselves in the direction we want to go.

Maybe balance, after all, isn’t the prize but the springboard. Maybe balance isn’t the goal, but the source of strength that gets us where we need to go.

So, beloveds, what kind of balance will we seek in order to get us where we are called to go?

 

Yours in the search for the balance that keeps us ready and connected,

 

Rev. Nancy

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Jan 29 2018

February Journal – Devotion: What Do We Love?

Published by under Minister's Musings

February Theme: What Does It Mean to Live a Life of Devotion?

Devotion: What Do We Love?

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones, with help from the Soul Matters team

 

Here we go again, we Unitarian Universalists, reclaiming another old-fashioned and often-freighted word! Devotion. This month we take a fresh, heart-opening look at it. What are your first associations with this word?

Most of us know the shadow side of devotion. We may have experienced a religion where we were asked to give ourselves over to a leader or a doctrine, which involved abandoning our true selves. Or maybe we have been in a relationship—in our families, at school, or at work—that demanded a dangerously self-sacrificing “devotion” from us if we wanted this relationship to last. This kind of devotion disregards our worth and integrity. It leaves no room for expressing and meeting our own needs. Such false devotion traps us instead of setting us free.

As a result of these experiences, we may be allergic to the very idea of devotion. We think it’s the opposite of freedom, and we value our freedom above all else.

But a healthy devotion actually invites us into relationship with our own best selves. True devotion signals a choice—something to which we give a deep love, a commitment, a steadiness and loyalty that actually set us free from distractions and dithering and give us a sense of direction.

I have felt this kind of devotion to both my vocations, first as an actor and now as a minister. I love giving time to these callings; I feel a deep loyalty to the relationships that they create. Sure, in my devotion to these careers, I have to surrender part of my own ego-needs in order to serve a Something More. Such surrendering can be hard—we may lose sleep or have to make difficult choices—but ultimately it doesn’t feel like a denial of self. Devoting ourselves to a path that “has our name on it” feels like coming home. This is one kind of healthy devotion.

One Soul Matters Sharing Circle facilitator—a Unitarian Universalist exploring this same theme—writes, “I need to remind myself that devotion to a cause has brought extraordinary changes in our world.” Think about the end of slavery, the winning of the vote for women, the passage of Civil Rights laws, the gain of marriage equality. How long it takes the passionate devotees of each cause to transform those oppressions into freedom! Surely, we live in a time that asks us for this kind of healthy devotion. Wouldn’t it be great if folks could say of all of us Unitarian Universalists: “Nevertheless, they persisted!”

          Our Soul Matters Spiritual Exercises this month invite us to pay attention to the smaller, daily acts of devotion in our lives, because these reveal our deepest values and longings. They give us a sense of what calls for our loyalty and commitment.

So maybe the most important questions of this month are “How devoted are you to your core?” and “How loyal are you to that which lights you up?”

          In the end, my friends, this theme of devotion all boils down to this: What do we love? Only love can drive out hate, as Dr. King reminds us, and oh, how much we need to drive out hate. Today, this month, this year, may we devote ourselves to embodying the love that, with focus and intention, loyalty and persistence, can turn this world around.

 

With love and devotion to our journey together,

 

Rev. Nancy

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Jan 24 2018

February Journal: Soul Matters Spiritual Exercise for Devotion

Published by under Minister's Musings

What Does It Mean to Live a Life of Devotion?

Soul Matters Spiritual Exercises for February

Gathering: Sunday, February 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m., Ramsden Fireside Room

Take our theme of the month deeper by engaging in one or more of these spiritual exercises. Then join our small group to enrich the experience!

 

Reconnecting with and recommitting to our own deepest self is a major part of what it means to live a life of devotion. This journey happens differently for each of us. Here are two spiritual exercises that may help you reconnect with your devotion—that is, with those things to which you give your love, loyalty, faithfulness, and commitment.

 

OPTION A:

Rediscover Your Devotion to Small Things

 

Mother Teresa wrote, “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

“What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” We know this is true, yet it is so easy to lose sight of the small things that we love and that make a big difference. For example:

 

  • We may be devoted to having dinner with our family and making time for each person to name something that they are thankful for from that day. But when things get busy, our commitment to this practice falls to the wayside.
  • We may have made a commitment to call at least one long-distance friend each month, but somehow this past year, it’s not happened at all.
  • Maybe we think of ourselves as devoted hikers, artists, runners, choir members, you name it. These activities re-energize us and connect us to something larger than ourselves. And yet … we just haven’t gotten around to doing them in months.
  • Reading a book to our children before they go to bed; volunteering monthly to help with a cause about which we care deeply; writing a love letter to our spouse or friend; checking in on a neighbor; writing to our congressperson—these are all small, ordinary things that contain great power. But when we get tired or overwhelmed, we can lose sight of their importance in our lives and in the world.

 

So here is the exercise:

This month, make a list of the “small loves” that have great strength for you. Spend some time relishing what your list tells you about who you are and what you value at your core.

            Then choose one item from your list and do at least one action that reaffirms your devotion to it. Feel free to borrow or adapt from the examples of small devotions above.

Please join us on Sunday, February 25, at 1:00 p.m. at FUCSJ to share what you learn from this exercise about yourself and about the strength that lies in small things.

 

OPTION B:

 Do Our Values Really Have Our Devotion?

 

Living a spiritually faithful life is about living in alignment with our values. We know in our hearts the values to which we are most devoted, but sometimes our lives don’t reflect this devotion as much as we would like. This exercise offers us a chance to step back, to see how well we are doing, and to consider how we might course-correct to bring our lives in alignment with our values.

 

Step One: Name Your Values

Fill in the blanks:

Two values to which I am deeply devoted to are _______________ and ________________.

 

Step Two: Examples of Living Your Values

Fill in the blanks:

You can see my devotion to these values by looking at these parts of my life:

 

1._________________________________

2._________________________________

3._________________________________

4._________________________________

 

As you fill in these blanks, think about how you interact with your family or friends, what you have chosen to do as your employment, how you spend your free time, how you handle conflict, how you use your money, where you volunteer, what you do for fun and/or self-care, and so on.

 

Step Three: Ways to More Deeply Reflect Your Values

Fill in the blanks:

Here are three ways in which my life can more deeply reflect my devotion to these values:

1._________________________________

2._________________________________

3._________________________________

 

Step Four: What Have You Learned?

Reflect on what this exercise shows you about the way your life lines up with your most deeply cherished values. Has anything surprised you? How will you carry these lessons forward in your life in the days and weeks to come? Please join us on Sunday, February 25, at 1:00 p.m. at FUCSJ to share what you learn.

 

~ SOUL MATTERS REFLECTIONS GROUP MEETING DATES ~

Sunday, February 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Devotion

Sunday, March 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Balance

Sunday, April 29, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Emergence

Sunday, June 3, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Imagination

Sunday, June 17, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Blessing

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Jan 24 2018

February Theme: What does it mean to live a life of DEVOTION?

Published by under Minister's Musings

 In Our Own Voices: What does it mean to live a life of DEVOTION?

“In Our Own Voices” shares congregants’ free-flowing responses to the theme of the month. We draw these responses from on-line surveys and use them in creating worship, small-group ministry content, and other opportunities for spiritual growth.

When our theme of the month involves reclaiming a traditionally “religious” term, we get the widest range of responses. For “What does it mean to be a people of Devotion?” or “What does it mean to live a life of devotion?” we get contradictory answers. From “I love this old-fashioned word” to “this concept doesn’t excite my interest”; from devotion to God, to devotion to people and relationships; from open-ended “rituals done with lots of smiling” to the well-scripted Episcopalian daily office—this theme lifts up our theological diversity in all its splendor! I hope you will join us in worship and small groups this month as we celebrate our diversity and reclaim a word that can enrich our lives … no matter where we place ourselves on the religious spectrum!  

 

With real devotion to you and to this faith we love,

Rev. Nancy

 

  • I think of consistency and daily practice, rituals done with lots of smiling—this is what I see when I think of being a part of a people of devotion.
  • I love this old-fashioned word devotion! It signals a deep love, a commitment, a steadiness and loyalty that are of great value to me. It means I allow something or someone to be larger than my own ego, so that I surrender some part of my own ego-needs to serve this Something More. More and more, I want to live from a place of devotion to my core self, my deepest loves and values, my evolving understanding of what helps make us all more whole.
  • In some religious contexts, devotion is seen as being toward abstractions like God. In our Unitarian Universalist context, I am more interested in being devoted to people and relationships, or being devoted to actions for social justice, or being devoted to a regular practice. At first blush, this concept doesn’t excite my interest very much.
  • We are devoted to something or someone that is of value. The highest devotion ought to be for the Divine, who is above earthly calamity.
  • Since many of the church members don’t believe in God or are agnostic, I suppose devotion raises the question of devotion to what? Truth, justice, service, community? And to which community or communities?
  • To be aware of spiritual forces within my life and outside of it. Devotion is an odd word. I looked it up and found these: love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause: “Eleanor’s devotion to her husband.” Synonyms: loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, constancy, commitment, adherence, allegiance, dedication. More religious worship or observance: “the order’s aim was to live a life of devotion.” Synonyms: devoutness, piety, religiousness, spirituality, godliness, holiness, sanctity: “a life of devotion.” As an Episcopalian, I understand the value of the daily office (prayer and scripture as found in the prayer book) and the importance of being an active part of a community of faith. These things, when practiced faithfully, provide an external focus that helps me to become centered.

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Dec 20 2017

January Journal: “Hear Our Vote”: Women’s March 2018

Published by under Minister's Musings

“Hear Our Vote”: Women’s March 2018

January 20, 2018, 11 am – 2 pm, Downtown San Jose (exact location not yet announced)

Unitarian Universalists, LET’S SHOW UP!! Once again this year, there will be many women’s marches on January 20, including one in downtown San José. The march and rally will reaffirm our commitments to building a positive and just future for all, and will celebrate the spirit of resistance over the past year. This event is designed to engage and empower all people to support women’s rights, human rights, and social and environmental justice, and to encourage participation in 2018 midterm elections. HEAR OUR VOTE! For more information or to register: https://womensmarchbayarea.org/events/  Additional details and events for the “week of action” to be announced.

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Dec 20 2017

January Theme: What does it mean to be a People of INTENTION?

Published by under Minister's Musings

Resolutions or Intentions? A Difference in Direction

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones, with help from the Soul Matters team

 

“Here’s what I discover,” Katie Covey begins. Katie is on staff with our Unitarian Universalist Soul Matters Sharing Circle—a circle of congregations with whom we share monthly themes and spiritual growth. After brainstorming with colleagues about this month’s theme—“What does it mean to be a People of Intention?”—Katie comes to understand that “intention is different from setting goals or resolutions. Intention ‘pulls us into’ who we truly are. Goals and resolutions ‘push us out’ into future possibilities. To set intentions, we listen to our inner voice, which tells us who we truly are.”

Some of us find it hard not to buy into the familiar January ritual of setting “resolutions.” Aren’t we all always trying to “become better”? Even our Unitarian ancestor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote a passionate essay about the value of “self-culture,” which was his word for self-improvement. Our society has been entranced with the lures and promises of self-improvement ever since.

But more and more, I wonder if such “self-improvement” is what we really want. Wouldn’t I rather be “pulled in” to my deeper self this year, than “pushed out” into another round of striving for accomplishments? I don’t know about you, but I have spent far too many years caught up in societal expectations around looks, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, intelligence (including the gender-coded message to hide our intelligence). My own internalized oppression about striving for some kind of “perfection” in order to be lovable flies in the face of all I believe as a Unitarian Universalist: that we are inherently lovable just as we are. And that we are always growing.

Instead of taking this New Year as another opportunity to leap into “self-improvement,” measured by some external standard, let’s pause. Let’s ask, “What hunger really has my heart?”

          There is a big difference between becoming “better” and becoming ourselves. Self-improvement is not the same as self-alignment. Wanting to get from point A to point B is quite different from longing to find our inner anchor.

So this month, our most important work is to make room. May we, as a people of intention, keep our attention close to the present, on who we already are at our center. May we make space for listening before we leap into striving.

Intention, for me, is about setting a “good holy direction” for ourselves—holy, because it comes from our authentic core. With that grounding in our human being, we’ll know what we want to do.

 

With love and faith in our journey together,

 Rev. Nancy

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