My cominister Rev. Meredith Garmon delivered this sermon on September 27, 2009 at the Unitarian Univeralist Fellowship of Gainesville (audio below for listening or for downloading. Written manuscript available upon request or for UUFG members on the website: UUFG). I followed his sermon with some spontaneous comments; the written excerpt follows below.
For me the "downside of spirituality" is that our various practices often do not tell us how to deal with the pain, hurt, and suffering that exists in the world. If spirituality means we are to open our hearts and minds to all that is, this means that we must make meaning not just of beauty, but of tragedy, and the tragic choices each of us makes, or that our communties and species makes. How do we do this?
I got a glimpse how one person answers this this past weekend. I had the honor to officiate a godparenting ceremony outdoors at Payne's Prairie State Park. Before the ceremony began a park ranger walked up with a whip on his belt, "to control gators" he replied when asked about it's function. He watched the ceremony and at the end he said:
"I don't know if your bible is my bible. But my bible says 'to walk circumspectly.' Out here at night walking around under the stars you never know what is around the corner - lizards, snakes, gators, bison, horses, feral pigs. There is much that can harm you and you've got to be careful. I mean, I don't think we can stop what's coming, the bad stuff, but we can walk carefully to ward off some of it. And as we go, we walk under those beautiful stars."
So maybe spirituality helps us walk open to beauty and to tragedy, and my guess is that there is so much beauty that it might just be harder to make meaning of the incredible beauty than the immense tragedy."
How do you hold the pain?
Is it worth trying to grow your awareness of interconnection, to both beauty and tragedy when you can't stop the tragedy?
How can you grow your sense of interconnection and meaning with others?
Download Downside of Spirituality