Dear Ones- Welcome to March! It's going to be a great month, with special guest preaching, musical guests, and, of course, our “Spring Fling” potluck and entertainment to kick off our pledge campaign. Our theme for the month is “Vulnerability”, and so I'd like to take a moment and consider what that might mean. I suppose in some contexts it could mean “defenseless”. If your computer is “vulnerable” to virus attack, clearly that's not a good thing and needs to be fixed ASAP. You don't want your computer to crash from a virus.
And that's certainly true for computers. But we humans are not computers (at least, not yet!) So we might look at vulnerability a little differently. Rather than looking at it as a weakness, might we look at it as a potential strength?
When we make ourselves vulnerable to one another, we open ourselves up to the potential for deeper relationship. And while there is, certainly, the potential for harm, might it be worth the risk?
That's why there are some other things that MUST accompany making yourself vulnerable.
Vulnerability is NOT weakness. Being willing to be vulnerable means that you are strong enough to accept the risk.
Being vulnerable means trusting that the other person will not harm you. I think one reason it's so very hard to be vulnerable is that in our past we have been hurt by those whom we've trusted. It may not have been intentional, nor might it have been a huge, crushing betrayal. It might have only been a thoughtless word. But it hurt, and led to a hesitancy to be vulnerable to either that person, or to people in general.
I know- some of us are very resistant to that word! But I'm not talking about faith in a supernatural being, or even a religious tradition. I'm talking about faith in the potential for good; I'm talking about having a positive attitude about the potential outcome. Whatever your religious/spiritual inclinations, being vulnerable is an act of faith.
Being vulnerable requires an act of bravery. You know you're opening yourself up to potential harm. But you trust this person, and you believe that deepening the relationship will be fulfilling and important. So you “screw your courage to the sticking place”(to quote Shakespeare) and dive in. That is the very definition of bravery, in my opinion.
Doing this- being vulnerable- is usually pretty scary. So a vital part of being vulnerable is knowing that you're not alone; that there's a “safety net” to catch you if you trust is misplaced, or your bravery fails. If the relationship sours(or whatever you're being vulnerable about) and you end up hurt and angry, it's important to know you're not alone; that there are people who will support you, encourage you, and help you to heal.
Research Professor Brene Brown talks a lot about vulnerability. We'll be talking more about her on March 12. In an interview she did for Inc Magazine, she says, “ ...to really put ourselves out there, ...I just don't think it gets more courageous than that”.
May each of us have courage, strength, bravery, faith and trust enough to be vulnerable. And if we should fail, may our beloved community be there to help us heal!
Wishing you peace and blessings,
Dear Ones- Our theme for the month of February is “LOVE”.
Generally, I use this space to talk about the month’s theme, and give you some thoughts on it. While this article may do that to some extent, it will probably only happen tangentially. Mostly, I’m going to talk about the proposed changes to Article II of the UUA bylaws (bear with me- it’s more interesting than it sounds!)
So what’s Article II, and what’s all the fuss?
Here’s the deal: Article II is that section of the UUA’s by-laws that includes our Principles and Sources. Another section of the bylaws say that it’s supposed to be reviewed “not less than every 15 years”. Now, after a lot of discussion(the Commission was established in 2020), the Article II Study Commission has finalized its recommendations to the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Rewriting Article II is not really that radical an idea. It has actually seen a number of changes throughout the years. The original language from 1961—six Principles, with no Sources cited—was overhauled as the result of a review in the early 1980s, and the seventh Principle(affirming the interdependent web of all existence) and five Sources were added at that time. The sixth Source (earth-centered traditions) was added in 1995, according to an article in the UU WORLD from 2006.
The proposal is, I think, a really good attempt to clarify “who we are, what we’re about, and who we want to be”. It’s not perfect, of course. I’m sure UU’s across the country are picking it apart and writing scathing reviews of how terrible it is. The Commission itself recognizes that some will grieve for what is lost with the changes.
But this is also not the end of the story- keep in mind that the proposal now needs to go to the UUA Board, and then needs to be reviewed at this year’s General Assembly for delegates to discuss and vote on. So it’s not a “done deal” by any stretch of the imagination.
Admittedly, the proposed changes in Article II are substantial. Rather than listing seven Principles, the proposal lists 6 single words- Equity, Transformation, Generosity, Pluralism, Justice and Interdependence, with longer explanations of those terms. There’s also a very nice graphic surrounding a chalice with “Love” superimposed. As the graphic tries to illustrate, at the core of all we do is love.
The proposal also eliminates the admittedly unwieldy and ever growing list of “sources” section completely, in favor of this:
“Section C-2.3. Inspirations.
As Unitarian Universalists, we use, and are inspired by, sacred and secular
understandings that help us to live into our values. We respect the histories,
contexts and cultures in which they were created and are currently practiced. These sources ground us and sustain us in ordinary, difficult, and joyous times.
Grateful for the religious ancestries we inherit and the diversity which enriches
our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.
So, what does that mean for us? While I certainly can’t speak for you, for me it doesn’t really mean all that much. My Unitarian Universalist faith is not dependent on the UUA, or the UUA’s bylaws. I might need to change my “elevator speech”. But saying something like, “We stand for Equity, Transformation, Generosity, Pluralism, Justice and Interdependence as expressions of Love” is actually easier than trying to list all Seven Principles and Six Sources.
We still have the freedom to believe what we must, we are still an independent congregation with a covenantal relationship with one another and with the UUA, we are still Unitarian Universalists. Love still can (and must!) guide us in all we do.
If you would like to see the proposal, here’s the link:
Wishing you peace and blessings,