The UUA Soul Matters topic and theme of worship for the month of June relates to beauty; the written material in the curriculum is rich and inspiring. It starts with asking: “What does it mean to be a people of beauty?”
UU minister Sean Parker Dennison writes, “The ability to see beauty is the beginning of our moral sensibility. What we believe is beautiful we will not wantonly destroy.” With this we are reminded that beauty does more than soothe and heal. It demands. It calls. It creates commitment. It doesn’t just say “Love and appreciate me.” It says “Protect me! Fight for me!” It steps out in front of us and points to a precious world that needs our help. It paints a picture of new ways of living and declares, “Follow me there!” It’s not just the thing that nurtures our activist efforts. It is the reason we take to the streets. (p.1)
Last Sunday at church, I sat beside a woman who looked familiar, but I did not know her name. After the service, we sat and talked, and she introduced herself and said she had been coming to UUCM off and on for many years, but that today was the first time she had attended a service in our new building.
She expressed delight and amazement at the beauty of the new building. She commented on the wonderful brightness of the sanctuary and the wide expanse of windows that frame the verdant woods and wetlands just behind the church. She said she was also amazed at the positive energy and spirit that she felt throughout the building. She was clearly quite moved and excited to be there, and very glad that she had decided to come back and experience this new home of UUCM.
Her exuberance was quite contagious, and I was reminded not to take the extraordinary beauty of our new building and its natural setting for granted. Yes, we must remember and acknowledge that this beautiful building provides comfort, solace and peace; but its extraordinary beauty must also challenge us to protect and preserve it. It must remind us that “this precious world needs our help”.
The Soul Matters curriculum states: “These are indeed difficult times. They require courage, commitment, hope and self-love. And all of them are sustained by beauty. We find the courage to fight after falling in love with a beautiful vision to fight for. We maintain our commitment only by finding the beauty that nourishes us.” (p.2)
It is an inspiring idea for me that our church’s beauty provides nourishment for us. And that nourishment can help us maintain our courage, commitment, and hope as we pursue our mission to “connect, grow, and act” in the world.
Member, UUCM Board of Trustees
This is a brilliant perspective on beauty, and is definitely challenging me to move deeper into identifying what I value – and what I am therefore willing to fight for and to protect. Thank you for sharing this reflection.