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2019-05-10

From the Minister, Fri May 10

There are many noncongregational ways to pursue spiritual development – books, classes, regular sessions with a spiritual counselor. Congregational life brings some unique features to the spiritual path. For better and for worse, congregational life includes these five features you won't find on other paths of spiritual development.

1. Self-governance: involvement with committees; democratic participation in, and approval of, the budget process; deliberating about policies, procedures, bylaws; creating and leading programs. Congregations give you a role in running the place. Yoga classes or sessions with a spiritual therapist don't. I know that the prospect of being on a committee may not be very appealing. Spiritual community that is run by the seekers themselves offers a unique level of richness, meaning, and connection.

2. Group Identity and Belonging. There is deep satisfaction in being a member of the Unitarian Universalist “tribe.” Belongingness in a community of care and concern is a deep human need. Many such communities, including Unitarian Universalist ones, work at mitigating the insular aspects that some communities develop. We want to ensure that our identity as “UUs” doesn’t exclude other identities. UU Christians, UU atheists, UU Buddhists, UU pagans, UU Jews, UU Humanists, and others, all find belonging as Unitarian Universalists.

3. Family membership. Family belongingness -- both parents and children in a context of multiple generations -- is an integral feature of congregational life. You don't get that with a spiritual counselor or a meditation class.

4. Caring for each other. Congregation members show love and care to other members – building friendships at congregation gatherings, visiting each other for social occasions and when one of us is sick. These things will naturally happen among a circle of friends, but congregational life affords the chance to have a bigger circle. It’s nice to care and be cared about by people that know you well. Caring and being cared about by group members that may not (yet) know you all that well adds a rewarding layer of meaning to life.

5. Social justice action as a faith community. You don’t have to be in a congregation to work for social justice, but in congregations, justice and spirituality are integrated. This may not be so true in some denominations, but it tends to be the Unitarian Universalist way. Working with fellow congregants on justice projects is an essential part of our spiritual path.

Yours in faith,
Meredith

Practice of the Week: Rare, Precious Fluke Of all the species that have ever lived, 99.9 percent are extinct. They evolved into being, lived for a time, and are now gone. We humans, tiny newcomers on the cosmic stage, are rare and precious—a gem indeed. Yet every species is unique. All species emerged from the tangled thicket of evolutionary history going back to the beginnings of life. They too are rare and precious gems. READ MORE

Your Moment of Zen: The Best Turning Points Jackrabbit Roshi was there at the beginning of our adventures with Raven -- in #1, where he put the teaching of mutually dependent arising at the center. Since then, Jackrabbit has only been referred to: in #38, where Raven invites her students to speak up about "anything in our program that troubles you"; -- #70, where Woodpecker asks about reports that Jackrabbit is now putting "just this!" at the center; -- and #86, where Owl asks about Jackrabbit supposedly having said, "the mind has no qualities and its essence is compassion."

Turning points unavoidably arise, if they arise at all, within and out of your own situation. But, as Owl learns, it's no easy thing to be grounded in, and clear about just what your situation is

Case
Owl came forward one evening and called up to Raven on his perch, saying, "Jackrabbit Roshi was the first teacher you met."
Raven said, "That's right."
Owl said, "I've heard he said the best turning points come out of your own situation. Did you ever hear him say such a thing?"
Raven said, "What's your situation?"
Owl swung his head from side to side.
Raven asked, "What turning points come from that?".
Owl hooted.
Raven said, "I'm not convinced."
Verse
"During revolutions, scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before." --Thomas Kuhn

When did it happen? You
Becoming you, I becoming
This.
Is not change, though continuous,
Punctuated?
Were there not moments --
   a day, a year, or two --
Of seeing through a new glass,
Just as dark,
   maybe,
But that seemed less so?
Were we not given
Glimpses because of which we took
A yellow-woods road that
Made all the difference?
Did we not,
At some identifiable-afterwards time
Turn aside from the task of shoring up the imperium,
And set ourselves instead to construct new forms?
When?
When did it happen?
Might it be happening again?
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Raven Index   ☙   Zen Practice at CUUC

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