Everyday Greetings

At the end of each service, when we extinguish the chalice, we do so “that it might glow gently in our hearts.” In Personal Theology Thursday features, we reflect on how we find that glow in the every day world.Today’s reflection comes to us from member Tim Peterson, who found that spirit in a new form of greeting.

On July 24th, I attended TEDx Fargo. One of the speakers suggested that rather than asking people, “What do you do?” We should ask, “What are you excited about?” I thought this was an intriguing question and so I have begun using it.

Generally the first response is a nonverbal one of surprise or a pause. But once the person gets passed the initial surprise they have a lot to say.

One of the first people I asked began by telling me how he had spent many years in banking but had retired a year ago. He went on to say that he was now ready for the next challenge. When I asked what that might be, he told me about the number of potential new ventures that crossed his desk at the bank. He had thought how he only wished he could help better define their business idea. At this point he said with a definite sparkle in his eye, “I guess the next challenge is to find a way to work with these new startup folks here in Fargo to better define their business idea.”

What this new question does is tap into a person’s passion and meaning for living.

So what are you excited about?

Cultivate

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our quote today was recommended by Kay Jacobson and calls us to think about how our successes are connected to our surroundings.

How do you cultivate a spirit of thankfulness? From what have you benefited, directly or indirectly, that has made your life richer? How can you make a sense of gratitude toward all things more tangible for yourself?

Your Journey

Our Meditation Monday quote today comes from Kay Jacobson and calls us to affirm the individual nature of our journeys.

Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours. –Zero Dean

Do you feel a need to communicate your faith journey to others? Do they understand it? How do you shake off the disapproval or misunderstanding of others? Do you struggle with a need for the approval of others? How do you remind yourself of the sacredness of your individual journey and experience?

Acceptance

Today’s meditation was suggested by Kay Jacobson and seems fitting as we celebrate Pride Week here in Fargo. The first Pride celebration was held in New York City in June of 1970 to remember the Stonewall Riots of the previous year.

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. –Carl Jung

Gay or straight, what part of you do you struggle to accept? What holds you back? How can you confront the “terrifying” aspect of self-acceptance to live a more authentic life? How would your life be different if you were able to do this?

Fountain of Youth

Ah but I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.   –Bob Dylan

Today’s Meditation Monday quote comes to us from Kay Jacobson and makes us ponder youth as a state of mind and spirit.

How do you define a youthful spirit? In what ways do you feel younger now than when you were chronologically younger? What practices help you to access that feeling of vitality, innocence, or purpose?

Call of the Drums

Tim Peterson’s post below is the first in our series of posts we’re calling “Personal Theology Thursday.” Once a month or so, we will post a reflection from someone about where they find the divine or nourish their spirit from the world around us. This could be an event, as Tim’s is, or a song or washing dishes or just an experience that was remarkable to them. Where do you find spiritual connection or renewal in our world? Here is one place that Tim finds it…

Well this weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to a Drum Corps International (DCI) competition. Drum Corps consist of brass instruments, precision instruments, and color guard.

I often get asked if the reason I make this pilgrimage is because I performed in one of the corps in my early adulthood. The answer is no. So why is it so important for me to attend at least one of these competitions each year?
When I travel I try to attend services at a UU Church. I was thinking about this question as I drove to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio. Dr. Dennis Slattery was the guest speaker. He said that rituals are sacred events that call to our soul. They are part of our personal myth.

For me the call of DCI is a reassurance of the good in the world. Seeing over 2400 young adults sacrificing for a greater good and their fellow corps members rather than their personal desires reassures me that this world will be just fine. To see them compete fearlessly and still warmly cheer for the other corps reassures me that we can believe differently and still care for one another. The energy and enthusiasm they display reminds me of Evelyn Underhill’s quote:

“The spark in each of us is part of the energy of the Universal Soul.”

By adding my attendance, I contribute my energy and enthusiasm to the Universal Soul of potential good just as each participant does by performing. May it be so.

Particle Physics

“An elementary particle is not an independently existing, unanalyzable entity. It is, in essence, a set of relationships that reach outward to other things.”

- H.P. Stapp, twentieth-century physicist quoted in “The Little Zen Companion”


Today’s quote for meditation comes from Kay Jacobson and appeals to our sense of scientific wonder. What “particles” in your life at first appear independent and unanalyzable, but upon closer examination, can be seen as a set of relationships?

Blessings

Today’s Meditation Monday Quote was shared with us by member Sara Sha.

Taken from the book To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O’Donohue, 2008.

“While our culture is all gloss and pace on the outside, within it is too often haunted and lost. The commercial edge of so-called “progress” has cut away a huge region of human tissue and webbing that held us in communion with one another.

“It would be lovely if we could rediscover our power to bless one another. I believe each of us can bless. When a blessing is invoked, it changes the atmosphere.

“A blessing is not a sentiment or a question; it is a gracious invocation where the human heart pleads with the divine heart.”

The most basic blessing, and a simple way to start the practice of blessing, would be to bless ourselves in the morning. Following is an excerpt from his blessing called Matins.

May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

- The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson


As we come out of this Fourth of July weekend and get back to daily life, ponder what your “Ameican-ness” means to you. What are unalienable rights and do you believe they are bestowed by a creator? The founders were inspired by the idea of a creator, but what form did this creator take? (Jefferson himself was part of the budding Unitarian movement) How does this social contract of our nation benefit from those spiritual roots and in what ways might we be hindered by it in the pursuit of liberty and happiness for all people?