Becoming Partly Intentional

What kind of person would you like to be more like -- and that an ideal congregation would be able to help you be? For Unitarian Universalists, the seven principles are important – yet the principles are pretty general. If we could say how we wanted to be changed by affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person; how we would hope to be transformed by affirming and promoting justice, equity, and compassion; what we thought it would do to us to affirm and promote acceptance of one another, or the free and responsible search for truth, or respect for the interdependent web of existence; then we would know two really cool things.

First, we would know we were serious about those principles. If I expect my commitment -- to the goal of world community, to the rights of conscience, to encouragement to spiritual growth -- to change me, that’s a meaningful commitment. If I don’t expect it to change me – if I don’t expect it to make a difference to who I am -- then I’m just paying lip service to those ideals. I’m just saying, “Yeah, that sounds good,” but I’m not expecting it to change my life, which means I’m not expecting it to really mean much to me.

Second, if we could say how we expected the work of upholding our principles to change us, then we would have a much better idea of how to specifically embody those rather abstract and general principles and ideals. We don’t need to spell out details of the meanings of the terms of our principles. If we know what kind of people we are resolved to be on a path toward being, that will tell us what we need to know about how we’re going to affirm and promote inherent worth and dignity; peace, liberty, and justice; respect for the interdependent web.
To what will you commit? Who is the person you hope your congregation and your commitment will help you become? What kind of work -- inner and outer -- are you ready to do, and which your congregation can guide?

I need to be clear: this is not about what’s wrong with you that needs to be fixed. You are not broken and you don’t need fixing. You are perfect exactly the way you are.
I learned about human perfection almost 32 years ago on the day my first child was born. I held her in my arms, and she was perfect. And she grew, and she was challenging, and she became a teenager, and that was sometimes difficult. But if I stopped to ask myself the question, where along the line of her years did she stop being perfect, I would have to answer she never did. Her unfolding, her growing and changing, her challenge and difficulty, were a part of her perfection. Even when it was appropriate to identify a particular behavior as a mistake, it was a perfect mistake. It was exactly the mistake she needed to make to learn what she needed to learn in the ongoing unfolding of her perfection. If she never stopped being perfect, then, I realized, neither did I. If I never stopped being perfect, then neither did you.

I believe in your perfection. I also believe that perfection is not static. It is a dynamic blossoming and unfolding. We can let that unfolding happen accidentally. It is inevitable, in any case, that accident will play a large role. Or we can bring a measure of intentionality to our growth and unfolding.

It is the function of prayer to give voice to the yearnings of our own becoming. In prayer, then – and in journaling and meditating and soul-searching and conversation with other earnest seekers -- let us seek the articulation of a mission which is ours, the articulation which will marshal our resources to unfold our perfection in a partly intentional -- rather than wholly accidental -- direction.

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This is part 4 of 5 of "Mission: Possible"
Next: Part 5: "The Gym and the Infirmary"
Previous: Part 3: "Name the Change"
Beginning: Part 1: "The Vision Thing"

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