Note: with apologies to R.E.M.Namaste'
I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.
I honor the place in you
which is of love, of truth,
of light, and of peace.
When you are in that place in you
and I am in that place in me,
we are one.
When I was lost. I mean, literally lost, in a nearby town a number of years ago, I found a Unitarian Universalist Church. And had I found God or divinity there today, it would have made for a terrific irony...
I never really understood what "Unitarian" meant, but I did have the feeling that if any spiritual nourishing center that calls itself a "church" could fit for me, well, then it'd probably be the Unitarian Universalist Church.
After my last posting -- my spiritual coming-out of sorts -- nearly everyone who said anything was not only tolerant, but respectful, for which I am grateful. Privately, people emailed to me their confessions of similiar struggles and that was a validating sense of community I got from their messages.
Others shared their story of where they get comfort as a non-Christian in a Christian dominated society. Another person simply vented about how it's too bad that some Christians find themselves religiously superior to any other religion. I hear you.
Namaste' to all of you who shared.
A few reminded me about the Unitarian Universalists, and I wasn't against trying it.
In fact, I went this morning.
The "church" is in an old gas-station. There were eight people besides myself who attended the hour-long discussion, plus the husband and wife who are the co-presidents of the church/center.
On a strictly human level, the welcome I was given was warm. I grabbed some literature on atheism, agnosticism, and reviewed all the inclusive type materials they had there about respecting other cultures, races, sexual orientations, etc. I took my seat, but not before I removed a black-bound book from it. "Oh lord, here we go again. I just can't get away from the damn bible!" I thought to myself. "This just isn't going to work."
It turns out it was a song and sayings book with materials from all sorts of religions, all sorts of religious thinkers and other philosophers and wise-sorts of people with an affinity for openness, and reverence for self-discovery, so I calmed back down rather quickly.
There was Beatles music playing, but the co-president of the church/center turned it off and then asked us to turn to #317 and "rise as you may." Churchy-hymny-type music started playing and I felt my throat contrict and my hopes start to flat-line. The song we were about to sing was from St. Somebody Assissi.
My mind took off running, "She was right...My friend was right...'You're probably not going to find what you are looking for.' This is going to be a long hour. I should have gone to that Buddhist temple. Or hell, maybe just gone to the gym. I always feel great when I am done there and the feeling I get there is the closest feeling I've gotten to feeling nurtured and peaceful as I'm probably ever going to get. Does it matter what I do so long as I come out peaceful and a better person in the end? Why, oh why am I here?"
We shut our books and sat down. The co-president started talking -- I can't remember what he said, but then he passed out the lyrics to "Imagine," by the Beatles. Soon he was banging away on the piano and we were listening to him sing,
"Imagine there's no heaven.
It's easy if you try.
No hell below us.
Above us only sky.
Imagine all the people living for today..."
We kept listening and by the time he got to,
"You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us."
a few people were moved to join him, and by the time he hit
"And the world will be as one"
we were all singing (or mouthing the words with our voice sometimes squeaking through).
Our voices only grew stronger for the last few refrains and then the song ended and the rows of chairs were dismantled and we gathered in a circle for discussion of what the world would be like with more peace and respect, less divisions brought on by government and religion, which took us to the people in Egypt, trying to empower themselves and overthrow their dictator. This lasted nearly an hour, followed by nearly another hour of eating cookies and connecting with one another.
I'm not really sure if this church/center is the final resting spot for my soul and spiritual side -- if I have one -- but I am quite certain that in all the eleven years that I have lived here, except for the time I was at work at the EAP with about 75 other hippie-peace-loving-liberal-fools, that I have never seen such a large group of liberal, accepting people with so much respect for difference and honor for others who worship and live differently than themselves. Kindness flowed from them, and there was no God or ritual or doctrine shoved down my throat setting off my touchy gag-reflex when it comes to Christianity.
(Again, if you like God, or ritual, or doctrine, etc. that's ok, I'm not bashing it for anyone else. I don't know what is right for you -- for gosh's sakes, I don't even know what is right for me.)
I met a child development professor and was able to market my business and join with her in the challenges of how to teach parents the dance of skillful parenting that honors their experience as well as their children's. I met a young Indian woman and her beautiful brown-eyed child, and an elderly woman who gently spoke with so much grandmotherly wisdom that I felt at home with her in minutes. Next to me sat a woman who held a straight face the entire length of the service. Her husband was that guy. You know what I mean by that guy. There's one in every group. The one who talks and talks and sometimes he says something really insightful, but a lot of the time we're just listening to him process every thought that hits him upside his head.
The service needed to wrap up, the meditation time had been skipped, but one member of the group finished the time with a humorous poem. The co-president said he wanted to wrap up with two sayings he had gotten from, I believe, the Beatles. He read the first one then he read the second saying.
"Behind every idiot is a good woman."
Next to me hysterics erupted in that guy's wife. Silent and straight faced the entire time she was now melting into the hiliarity -- and perhaps for her -- the truth of the statement.
The quote had made me giggle, but the reaction of that guy's wife made me laugh outloud.
"Next week we have a shamanic drummer coming. He'll lead us next week and he is into the rhythms of nature and what that has to do with spirituality. He brings drums for us all to use if you want to. Oh, and he's really funny, too. We hope you'll come back and try it out again here."
I left smiling, still not really knowing what I believe or what I'm even looking for, but banging on a drum honoring nature with some comedic shaman and a bunch of aging hippie-types might just be interesting enough that I'll come back...one more time...
That's me in the spotlight,
that's me in the gas station
shopping for religion.