I’ve spent the last 18 years searching for something to fill a spiritual hole in my life. I grew up Catholic but could never just believe what they told us to believe. After a professor spoke briefly about Buddhism in a philosophy class, I started doing research and really loving it but I felt like something was still missing. One day while sitting in a conference room with a co-worker waiting for every one else to show up, we started a conversation on religion (can’t remember how it got started) but she told me that she was raised Catholic and was no longer practising but that her and her husband were looking into a Unitarian Universalist church. I had heard of it but because of my prejudice of the word “church,” I never looked into it. She had sparked my interest enough to make me look past that.
Lots of research later and I really wanted to attend a UU church nearby. The Ex said he had no desire to go so every Saturday night I would stir up the courage to take Willow and myself there on Sunday morning. Sunday morning would come and I would chicken out. Fear of the unknown is a strong deterrent. After moving back to the area I was in before, I asked a friend if she wanted to join me at a church that was smack dab in the middle of us. She agreed and I’m so thankful for her agreeing because it really feels like I’ve found what I’ve been looking for for 18 years and what I wish I had as a kid when ideas and beliefs were forced on me. Yesterday’s service was the Coming of Age service. Fifteen and 16-year-old kids are basically “graduating” from the religious education program. They were each introduced by their mentors and they each stood in front of the whole congregation and talked about their beliefs. I was really amazed at how well thought out their answers were and how varying. Each teenager had their own point of view of what God is and they all came from the same church. It was really amazing. That was it for me. I knew it was the place Willow and I need to be.
The Unitarian Universalist Association is based out of Boston and has a really great website that explains just what this UU stuff is all about. Below is a little explanation of the UU belief system (if you can call it that).
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Unitarian Universalism draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of the UU religious community.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, head over to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s website and see if there is a church near you.
For those in Canada, here is a link to the Canadian Unitarian Council.