Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme and the state of the church. This month’s post is offered by Robert Brooks, who discusses his experience of awe in relation to the compilation of reflections from our recent Board Listening Sessions, and the board’s process of moving towards the selection of a minister at the end of this second interim year.
Awe: noun (2) reverential fear or wonder (OldEnglish)
Awe is a numinous object, a purely intellectual intuition, emotionally powerful but hard to hold in my attention. As soon as I try to hold on to my sense of awe, like the proverbial bar of soap it slips from my grasp. Continue reading →
PAY ATTENTION!! At some time or another we heard this from a parent or teacher. For children, the world is full of stimuli and new information, it’s not surprising that a child’s focus isn’t always where an adult would expect it to be.
In the modern world, it is also hard for adults to pay attention. Balancing work, family, hobbies, church, and other commitments means we are not always mentally present even when we are physically present. It is easy to get lost in thought and not pay attention to a movie, miss a moment in a conversation, or drift off during a sermon (not that I have ever, ever done that…). Technology makes this even easier — phones and iPads provide a ready distraction.
That said, there are definitely times where attention is absolutely required (like driving). Other times, if you just pay attention, you’ll have experiences you might not expect. A walk in the woods turns into a wildlife spotting adventure and a chorus of sounds. A chat turns into a deep and meaningful conversation and sharing of experience.
Over the past year, our UUCM troika has definitely paid attention to us. Their observation and listening has allowed them to provide insights into what our church does well and what we can do better. In turn, we have paid attention to what they are telling us, so we can grow and change in a positive way.
Because the troika won’t be with us next year, the board is now working to pay close attention to you. Our listening sessions are designed for us to be sure we know about your hopes and dreams for UUCM as well as your worries and concerns. Even if you miss the listening sessions, please let us know your thoughts. Only by paying attention to you, will we be able to choose a ministerial direction for UUCM.
— Bill Arnold
Member, UUCM Board of Trustees
The theme for October is “belonging” – an affinity for a place or situation. Both intuition and research show that people need to feel a sense of social connectedness, and that belonging comes with feeling that one is an accepted member of a group.
Considering that humans evolved for tens of thousands of years living in small tribes, it is not surprising that belongingness and social connectedness are an integral part of the normal human psyche. Tribe membership increased a human’s chances of survival from starvation, predation, and violence by neighboring tribes. Selection pressures for connectedness and belongingness were probably intense.
Abraham Maslow’s influential theory on the hierarchy of needs identified our physiological needs for food, water, and warmth as superseding our psychological needs. But subsequent research has shown just how fundamental our need for social connection and belonging are, and how important the fulfillment is to healthy human psychology and functioning. Continue reading →
September’s theme is “Expectations,” a theme of particular interest to me as a new board member. I’ve been a member of UUCM for over two years now, and have been so happy to find such a caring and welcoming community.
“Expectations” is a big word, with many resonances. What does the congregation expect of me in this new board role? What are the other board members’ expectations? And what about the interim ministerial team? I could quickly get overwhelmed—and not merely by a string of rhetorical questions.
Certainly, there are the basic expectations, like going board meetings and being an active member of church life. Those are obvious, and I’m sure there’s more to it than that. It’s good to expect things from each other, and to hold each other accountable, to hold oneself accountable. Continue reading →
As our tiny blue-dot home passes the summer solstice, I am thinking of calendars. For over five-thousand cycles, this day has been marked by the sun apparently “rising” over the heel-stone at Stonehenge. Although Copernicus’ heliocentric heresy has morphed into Hawking’s history of time , this solstice remains one of our most easily marked points in our recurring journey around our sun. Here on land held sacred by the first people before us and fifty cycles since we sailed a shiny ship to the moon, we mark the beginning of our church fiscal year – July, 2019 to June, 2020. And, like those before us, we make plans.
During four months of congregational conversations (“Planting Possibilities”) in 2017 we refreshed our vision, mission and ends statements. At that time, looking forward to the completion of our new building and wondering how we would use it to realize our highest and best, we listened to each other’s stories. We shared our personal “spiritual journeys” in coming to this time and place. Some of us had come from families of UU congregations. Many of us had come through disaffections with other religious traditions. All of us carried baggage from our travels. Like Caesar’s legions before their battles, we set down our baggage (he called them “impedimenta”) and took inventory. We found words and metaphors which had served and/or wounded us.
We lifted up these powerful words. We embraced our ambivalence about them. Our hope was to desensitize ourselves to words that can impede our ability to join others in solidarity for shared values and action. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
The theme for May is “curiosity” – a strong desire to know or learn something. When I read this definition, I thought I could see an immediate connection between curiosity and open-mindedness. I had to see whether others found a similar connection.
The website, SelfGrowth.com’s, contributor Rikky Maas observes,
When you’re curious about something, you keep an open mind. Being curious is a state of wonder, in which you look for answers about the unknown. Asking questions about things is the direct opposite of judging things. Imagine how much kinder the world would be if everybody went ‘Ah what’s this? How does that work? What can this do?’ instead of ‘I like this, I don’t like that, that’s stupid’.
When you’re curious, you’re okay with not knowing. You embrace a certain insecurity, and it takes strength to do so. It’s much easier to hide behind fact, opinion or thought, whether false or true. You have to be okay with being vulnerable. It takes tremendous courage to show yourself unknowing. It takes courage to have no belief to hold on to. Continue reading →