Earlier this week I resigned from the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association. At the same time, I recommitted to the Unitarian Universalist Society for Community MInistries. But I’m not sure that will last, either.
My UU identity and work are stronger than ever, but they’ve become completely private endeavors. My daily reading is a wonderful resource from Beacon Press, Rabbi Chaim Stern’s Day by Day, an interfaith gathering of wisdom through the Jewish Lectionary Year. My history interest is still UU polity, in which I’m examining the immediate post-Roman Empire Western World for deep roots of elected governance combined with pagan ritual. Surprisingly, once you drop the Rome-centered view of the same regions, a coherent and unbroken story emerges. How much we could learn from the Jews about having a canon which tells that story, with all its contradictions and imperfect characters, week by week, every year, with no goal other than lifting our sense of self out of any particular time and place, into union with The Eternal from which our faith was given.
When I visit the local UU society on Sunday, I get none of this. The overwhelming sensation is that last residual of a dead faith, one from which God has moved on, leaving behind obligations that never end. The worship experience is delivered with excellence and commitment, and we had a huge turnout last weekend for our Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop — which means the ethical and spiritual core of our leadership stands ready to grow and serve — but I just miss a central presence of that God Who Unifies History.
As a caregiver, I need an unsullied message about larger concerns. Where does suffering come from? What will give me strength for one more day? As an aging person, I want to know who will mourn for me as me when I’m gone. Who will even know me well enough to say who I have been? A society that avoids discussing the God Who Unifies History — not just European history, not just national history, not just human history — cannot know my soul, any more than can a society that limits God and History to any one faith, place or species.
From the return of Jupiter and Venus this week through the quadrennial ritual of watching a Presidential debate, I believe in a God who speaks through knowable systematic theology. It is not chaos, it is not abstract or mystical. That doesn’t mean there are not mystical moments or chaotic disruptions to the sequence, it just means things return to that place of relationship, where Abraham and Sarah received the promise of descendents as numerous as sand in the desert or stars in the sky. Where Noah received the rainbow and the dove, and Jesus went apart to regather his strength through prayer. The place where Lao Tzu watched the butcher and cherry blossoms represent the fleetingness of beauty.
This place is not in the Middle East; it isn’t in the Far East. It isn’t on a timeline that historians can lay out and ask for on tests. This place is a one to one connection between Eternal and Mortal realms, in which each knows itself to yearn for and trust in the other.
I know there are many others who feel the same longing, which is why I bother to share. But as my partner sleeps longer and longer hours and my care-giving obligations grow, I need a religion that wants to take care of me, to reinforce its sense of my place in this larger realm.
Well, that’s it for today’s whining. The good news is, we had a weigh-in yesterday,and Lynne is back up to 140 pounds. The bad news is, her chorea is starting to fight back against the miracle drug we depend on to keep her going. We’re going to look into physical therapy, but we can’t deny that Huntington’s Disease remains fatal. Is it time to be grateful that we had this last good year? That we refuse to concede.