Dear Ones- In Jewish tradition, the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the “Days of Awe”. And while this year those High Holy Days fell in September and October, we have chosen “Awe” as our theme for the month of November. So for us here at UUFS, the entire month will be “days of awe”.
But what does that mean?
For Jews, the Days of Awe are time to focus on repentance- to look at their lives and to “turn themselves around”. It is a time of introspection and self-reflection. It is a time when Jewish folks try to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings.
It is intriguing that this period of time should be described with the word “Awe”, don’t you think? I’ve actually seen others perhaps more accurately describe it as “Days of Repentance”.
But I do believe there is some wisdom in the description, as well. Self-reflection is a pretty amazing thing, isn’t it? Looking at your life, realizing that, yes, we have perhaps not lived up to our highest values, and acknowledging out short-comings, and “wiping the slate clean” to start again- that’s pretty awesome!
For Unitarian Universalists, “awe” is usually not into the idea of repentance. In fact, we don’t typically talk much about repentance and atonement, though we probably should.
Perhaps that will be a discussion for another day.
For today, I wonder, what might the word mean for Unitarian Universalists?
UU Minister Rev Carol Hepokoski writes: “Many of us experience a deep sense of awe before the mystery of life and death, those powers greater than ourselves.” She’s speaking specifically of Humanists, but I’m certain this applies to (almost) all Unitarian Universalists.
I’ve certainly felt that, and I know you have, as well. Seeing Mt. Rainier for the first time, holding our new-born children and grandson, seeing the Acropolis, hearing Holst’s “The Planets” for the first time- all of those were truly awe-inspiring events in my life.
But there have been smaller ones, as well - fireflies, bumblebees, a brilliant sunset.
Life can (and certainly should!) be filled with moments of awe- both large and small. These experiences evoke wonder and amazement. They aren't just pleasurable, they're transformative, encouraging us to contemplate the meaning of life and see ourselves as part of a larger picture.
Awe is that feeling when you stand in a dark night, look up at the sky, and see millions of stars glowing. You may not be able to define the word, but you certainly know it when you feel it.
May you find abundant moments of awe in your lives and may you recognize them when they come!
Wishing you peace and blessings,
Dear Ones- Our theme for the month of October is “Finding Our Center”, and in thinking about this theme, I’m reminded of a children’s playground. In any playground worthy of the name there’s always a “see-saw” (also known as a “teeter-totter”, and I’m sure other names, as well). You know what I’m referring to, of course. It’s essentially a fulcrum, on which 2 people bounce up and down at each end of a plank. If the children are essentially the same weight, they pretty much balance each other out. However, if, for example, a small child is at one end, and an adult is at the other, well- the kid just doesn’t have a chance!
I remember, though, as a child, alone, crawling along the plank, finding the exact center of the see-saw. At that point, both ends are exactly in balance.
It’s actually much harder than you might think- particularly if the plank is a heavy one. The least shift in weight throws off the balance, and there is the tendency to then overcompensate.
Life is sometimes like that, isn’t it? Life just seems completely out of balance. You don’t seem to be able to catch a break. Crises arise that need our attention, and so we have to put our focus there. Then something else comes up that reminds us that we should have done this other thing. Then something else comes up, and so on and so forth until you feel like you’ve completely lost control.
Sometimes things happen which are completely outside of our control- the death of a loved one, illness, an unexpected financial burden, the car breaks down. These things can certainly throw us off balance.
But sometimes there are some things that we can control, things that don’t have to be a crisis- things that are only a crisis because we allow them to be. We sometimes give far more power to a small trouble than it deserves.
Finding a balance, coming back to equilibrium, is often (always?) difficult. It’s a continual challenge and process. But, it seems to me, the key to finding balance starts with finding our center.
And so this month we’ll be focusing on exploring exactly what “finding our center” means and how we do it- both individually and in community.
And to help you with that, don’t forget that after our service on the first Sunday of each month(that’ll be Oct 2), Jeff Matthias will lead a discussion group on that month’s theme to go “A Step Further”.
Please join us!
Wishing you peace and blessings,