It’s been a long and winding road that has brought me to the point of visiting a Unitarian-Universalist (UU) church. From a general disdain for the idea of a place which has no unifying theology, along that winding road, to arriving at an eagerness to visit, by myself, a place where I knew absolutely no one and absolutely nothing about.
I arrived early, early, early. The rest of the fam was heading elsewhere, and if I wanted a ride, that’s the time I could go! Knowing that there wasn’t any particular creed that I was expected to adhere to allowed me to feel comfortable being myself, and I reached out to multiple people and introduced myself.
Our most recent church experience has been at a mega-church where the focus of the morning is definitely on the “main stage” presentation. With something like 14,000 people coming through the doors every weekend, getting to know people is not what I would call easy. This morning at the UU, the congregation numbered around 65, which felt a heck of a whole lot more accessible. I mean, I’m all for pushing my introverted self to be more extroverted, but 14,000 is just way too much to wrap my head around.
A man named Thomas Starr King is credited with explaining the difference between Universalism and Unitarian: Universalists believe that God is too good to damn people, and the Unitarians believe that people are too good to be damned by God.” Wherever my spiritual journey ultimately takes me, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the different ideas that different people hold.
There are seven principles of UU:
Belief in the worth and dignity of every person;
Belief that all people should be treated fairly and kindly;
Belief that we should accept one another and encourage spiritual growth:
Belief in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
Belief that all people should have a say in the things that concern them:
Belief in working to achieve peace and freedom;
Belief in caring for planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.
I don’t know about you, but when I read those, I feel a sense of relief.
After the lay-led “sermon,” the congregation broke up into four smaller groups and discussed the questions which were raised by the speaker. They were similar to the questions Seth Godin addresses about creating, and others who are talking about stepping up and taking your turn.
The 8212 steps happened as I walked home, since the aforementioned fam was elsewhere. I’ve driven along that stretch of road, but just as I am finding every time I walk, walking is a whole other animal than driving.
When I drive, I must watch the road, be aware of traffic, follow traffic signals, wait my turn. While I still have to do those same things when I walk, they are qualitatively different, and they don’t preclude me from noticing what has been discarded along the roadside, how squishy the ground is, and how much space there is between me and the traffic (not a lot as you can see in this photo).
The road I walked has intermittent sidewalks and is otherwise not particularly friendly to pedestrians. With the exception of one obnoxious pickup truck who intentionally blew diesel smoke in my face, the many cars that passed me gave me a wide berth, and I didn’t see anyone looking at their phone while they drove.
The UU church meets only twice a month, which feels about the right frequency to me. The entire deal is run by volunteers, including the speaker, which means maybe I could do some speaking there if I decide to be more committed to this group of people. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.
I know lots of people walk regularly, but I recommend walking somewhere you haven’t walked before. It’s an eye-opening experience.