Nov 21 2018

December Journal – In Our Own Voices: What Does It Mean to Be a People of Mystery?

Published by at 7:44 pm under Minister's Musings

In Our Own Voices

December 2018: What Does It Mean to Be a People of Mystery?

The Practice of Embracing Life with Humility and Awe


“In Our Own Voices” captures congregants’ thoughts and feelings on the theme of the month. This year, our Worship Associates offer their first responses to each theme. May these words inspire you, too, to ask:

  • How does this theme relate to how I want to live my life?
  • What does it inspire in me?
  • How does it trouble or perplex me?
  • How can it help us to live our Unitarian Universalist faith?


  • I love mysteries. I love to wonder; I am curious. I love to discuss mysteries. Shared mysteries give me a sense of community. I don’t need there to be a single answer, or any answer at all. I need to know that there are things that are beyond my comprehension or anybody’s comprehension.
  • Struggling with the mysteries of life can feel very much like a two-year-old repeating the question “Why?” over and over again.
  • How do we cultivate genuinely curious questions?
  • How can we appreciate the “elephants in the room”? They have something to teach us.
  • There’s magic and mystery in being able to shift the tone of a polarized political discussion with simple kindness, such as saying “have a good day” in response to a MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) comment and receiving “God bless you” in response.
  • The subhead for this month’s theme—the practice of embracing life with humility and awe—reminds me of the power of practicing nondefensive communication (which was developed by Sharon Ellison, a Unitarian Universalist, by the way!).
  • Fully embracing “the inherent worth and dignity of everyone” requires humility.
  • How we honor the mystery of others whose interpretation is different from ours?
  • Adding mystery and wonder to our experiences can make them feel bigger, more profound. As a Catholic child, just walking into church and genuflecting was pregnant with Mystery.
  • Religion and Science are people’s attempt to explain the mystery of life. Once these two were very closely related—myth and science working hand in hand. Are they coming back together?
  • My idea of mystery is that I don’t know or understand what’s happening, but I recognize it as holy or perhaps important anyway. I can perceive things happening around me that I identify as awesome or mysterious and, like Mary (the mother of Jesus), file them away in my heart—not really to understand them, but to hold them as important. Often they’re a sign that perhaps I’m not able really to getwhat I’m perceiving.
  • What everyday practices help us connect with mystery (as each of us defines it)? Meditation? Music? Nature? Relationship?
  • When I connect with a sense of mystery, it resonates in my body. I feel a sense of spaciousness—a kind of whoosh of the walls of my mind and heart sweeping open to create more room for experiences, ideas, and feelings that I hadn’t quite imagined before or that I had forgotten in my hurry to get through the day. No wonder the Soul Matters folks suggest that “embracing life with humility” is the best spiritual practice for reconnecting with mystery. Humility makes room for more than my own clutched certainties. In fact, it helps me to live with the truth that life itself is, at root, uncertain. Accepting that, I can find joy in the moments of surprise and wonder! Let’s have more of that, please!
  • It’s perfect that this is the theme for the month when we celebrate so many winter holidays: Chanukah, Solstice, Christmas … Here we are, joining human beings throughout the ages, using stories to help us make sense of this life, finding reasons to celebrate in the midst of darkening days, letting these old stories and celebrations teach us fresh truths about how we want to live all year long. I’m in! Let’s mine the heck out of this month for Mystery!

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