Welcome to the Empty Chalice

This blog is intended to be an exploration of Unitarian Universalism (and the wonders of life) from the perspective of an almost-but-not-quite minister living in Canada in the twenty-first century.  What are the possibilities of this tradition for this new century?   How can we tell stories from our history in a way that can provide guidance for the future?  How can we use our symbols and rituals to enrich our communities and our lives?

I hope to explore these questions and, although it goes against typical Unitarian expectations, begin to shape some ellipitical, elusive, sideways answers.

I take much spiritual sustenance from our chalice symbol.  I light a chalice at home.  A meeting at a congregation feels incomplete with a flickering flame.  But I also love the chalice as a cup, a cup that often holds a flame, but can also be empty.

The empty chalice is a powerful symbol that can help us develop our spiritual wisdom, which would be a good thing. Particularly today, when we are saturated with information coming at us from books, magazines, radios, websites, blogs, facebook, twitter, tumblr and on and on.   Our brains are full, and while that makes for much witty conversation and funny wall photos, I wonder what it does for developing wisdom?

I like this zen story.

An eager student travelled to the home of a wise zen master. He came to ask the master if he could become his student. While the student began to speak about his previous studies and what he knew, the master quietly served tea. The student talked and talked until he realized that the master was still pouring yet the cup was overflowing.

“Master!” he said, “You are spilling tea, the cup is full!”

“You are like this cup,” replied the zen master. “How can I show you zen unless you empty the cup?”


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