This month’s theme is Mystery, and I want to open this muusing with the words of Jennifer Leota Gray, who writes:
Guide us away from the desire to
Shine light in all the corners.
Teach us to embrace the night,
For without the darkness,
We never see the stars.
What a beautiful metaphor to begin this, the darkest time of the year. This deepening season invites us to contemplate the mysteries of our own lives as we are gentled into the turning of the year, drawn to our warm beds, cozy fires, thick wooly socks, and images of sugarplums dancing (here’s a mystery for you: what, exactly, is a sugarplum?)
Embracing the mystery, for me, means allowing myself to relax into not knowing so that I can experience the magic that comes from letting go. I am a person who is proud of her education, actively feeds her reading habit, and enjoys a good home-made science project. In fact, the anxiety of not knowing – not knowing what’s coming next; not knowing how my children will fare in the world; not knowing what the “right” decision is in any given situation – this anxiety can leave me stymied, or worse, petrified, and caught in a trap of flustered over-thinking. This pressure to know leaves very little room for the mystery, which may be why I am so drawn to living a spiritual and religious life as an antidote to my anxious tendencies! Embracing the mystery is easier, for me, when I give myself permission to just let go and not know.
How is it for you, to not know? Do you gravitate to the mystery, or shy away from it? We are invited at this time of year to set down our knowledge and instead embrace the wonder, awe, and mystery that moves through our lives. How can the oil have burned for eight days and eight nights? How can one tiny person have impacted the world in such profound ways? How can we know the sun will return, the harvest get us through the winter, the cold and ice retreat? How can we know that we are loved, and affirmed, even in a culture that may tell us otherwise? As the Unitarian Universalist hymn asks us: Where do we come from, what are we, where are we going?
This month, we will explore Mystery in Sunday services, in SpiritJam sessions, and in Soul Matters discussion groups.
Sundays’ line-up includes:
December 9: The Voice of God: Join our ministerial intern Sarah Skochko as she explores the voices of prophetic people throughout history, and the voice of the great mystery as it may move through our own lives.
December 16: A Service of Carols: Every wonder what was behind our beloved, bawdy carols? You guessed it: Many were drinking songs banned by the church. And of course, now they are some of our most beloved. Come and sing and learn about the history of carols.
December 24: 4:00p.m. Christmas Eve Family Service. This service is meant to be inclusive of all ages from cradle to sage. There will be singing and storytelling, celebrating the Christmas Story.
December 24: 7:00 p.m. A quiet service of stories, music, and meditation on this season of the inbreaking of light.
December 30: The Burning Bowl Ritual: As we begin the new year, it is good to let go of the old year and all that has weighted us down. This is a service of letting go, setting ones’ intentions, and sending those intentions out to be witnessed by something greater than ourselves.
Soul Matters Discussion Group meets with facilitator Jean DeVenney on December 2 and 18. These conversations are open for anyone to join in – for more information, see the UUCE calendar and Adult RE page on our website at uueugene.org.
SpiritJam participants will explore the theme of mystery with jam sessions like: “First Day On Earth” jam, “Mythbusters” jam, and “Escape Room” jam! We’ll also include old favorites like “Lunch Sack” jam. Each Sunday morning we join in learning, worshipping, and faith formation together as a community. It is a joy when adults and children engage with one another, asking big questions, and exploring the mysterious nuances of our lives.
So this month, embrace the mystery here at UUCE!
It is good to be together,
(your Director of Lifespan Religious Education)