The following is an essay – “what excites you about ministry?” – I had to write in 2009 when I applied for candidate status as a Unitarian Universalist minister. With my final step – ordination – on this Sunday – it’s affirming to see that I am still largely motivated by the same interests.
The light of a chalice. Pouring the waters. Exchanging flowers. Honouring Charles Darwin. Speaking out for justice. Celebrating connections. These are some of the UU rituals and practices which inspired me to turn to UU ministry. Three aspects of my vocation are most exciting: creating sacred space for reflection and connection, encouraging UUs to live out our shared values in daily life, and articulating the uniquely UU way of being in the world. Continue reading
Fourth century Christian bishop Augustine wrote “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.” Time is the kind of concept that makes my brain hurt if I really try to fully understand what it means. Yet we live our lives so precisely by the counting of time; every appliance and gadget has a clock on it. We always know what time it is, but do we know what time is?
Alan Alda, an actor and science fan, has a yearly challenge to scientists: to explain scientific concepts in a way that 11 year olds can understand. After a panel of scientist. s reviews the entries, eleven year olds across the United States choose the best answer. Last year the Flame Challenge was to explain what a flame is; this year the question is “What is time?”
I love this question and I think it is a great one for a Unitarian service or a religious education class. What is time? Is it the counting of the clock? The linear passage of life through space? How is time related to space? Is it an arrow, moving straight from the past to the future or is it, as the Doctor says, more timey-wimey and wibbley wobbley – whatever that may mean? What does time mean to Unitarian Universalists? We tend towards a theological focus on the here and now, on being present in place. We don’t argue for eternity. So what does time to mean to us? If we understood time better, would it help us to be present in the now? Exploring the concept of time seems like an illuminating opportunity, a way to make connections between science and wonder.
Time is a great mystery – worthy of our contemplation – even if we can never hope to fully understand it. I’m looking forward to hearing from the scientists tough enough to try.
I’m switching the Monday Meditation to Friday and hope to blog earlier in the week – and more often – on aspects of Unitarian Universalism.
Without dirt, without soil, without all that life in the soil, there would be no food, there would be no us. There would be no life as we know it if soil had not begun forming billions of years ago on our planet earth. We are utterly dependent on it, as are all living things.
Creation stories from many cultures tell of humans being carved from wood or shaped from seeds or being moulded out of cornmeal. In some, people climb out of the depths of the earth. The first man in the bible was named Adam, which comes from the ancient Hebrew word adama, meaning “earth” or “soil”. Whatever the image, these stories all share a common truth: we are formed from earth.
We come from earth, and in the end, we return to it. Dirt is the ultimate matrix of life, so much so, that farmer Wes Jackson suggests that humans are really just a stopover between dirt and more dirt. Continue reading