Nurturing Perfection: Friends Along the Path, 1

On 2014 Jan 19, Community Unitarian Church adopted this mission:
  • to nurture each other’s spiritual journeys,
  • to foster compassion and understanding,
  • to engage in transformative service.
That is not simply this congregation’s mission. It is, rather, this congregation's articulation of what we understand to be the mission of all of Unitarian Universalism. If you have to move to some other city, and you join the Unitarian Universalist congregation there, you can expect that they, too, will be looking to nurture each other’s spiritual journeys, foster compassion and understanding, and engage in transformative service. At least, I hope that would be true, and I think for the most part it would be.

We needed to articulate our shared sense of what Unitarian Universalism’s mission is so that we can be guided toward doing what we think Unitarian Universalist congregational life is and should be all about: nurture each other’s spiritual journeys; foster compassion and understanding; and engage in transformative service.

In this "Friends Along the Path," series, The Liberal Pulpit will examine particularly the first two missional objectives: nurture each other’s spiritual journeys and foster compassion and understanding. Any group that makes progress in those two will also be more ready for effectively engaging in transformative service. And that service will in turn serve to nurture their spiritual journeys. Service will foster compassion just as compassion fosters service. Each of the three parts of this mission supports and strengthens the other two. Still, for now, we shall focus on the first two. In the next series, The Liberal Pulpit will focus on engaging in transformative service.

For those readers who are members of a congregation, let me ask: How is your congregation doing at nurturing its members spiritual journey? If you’ve been attending your current congregation for a year or more, have you, in fact, found that your spiritual journey has been nurtured? That is, in the last year:
  • Have you become more grounded or wiser?
  • Do you have any greater equanimity or inner peace?
  • Are you happier, more joyous, calmer, less irritable?
  • Is your emotional resilience or your self awareness any greater, your reactivity or your defensiveness any less?
  • Has your sense of connection with other people, your compassion and lovingkindness for others gotten any better?
  • Do you notice abundance more and fall into the grip of imagined scarcity less?
  • Are you any more present and any less distracted?
Maybe, in the last year, you have changed in these ways. If so, has your congregation had anything to do with that?

Let me hasten to say this: you are perfect exactly the way you are. Oh, sure, maybe yesterday you were adding up some numbers and got it wrong at first, or this morning you were typing a quick email, and your finger hit the wrong key – a typo. Our word for things like that is “mistakes.” Mistakes don’t mean you’re not perfect. Mistakes are just what your brain, or fingers, had to do at that moment. Perfection has a little randomness built into it because that’s how we learn and grow and evolve – just as the evolution of a species happens because DNA replication has a little randomness built into it.

When we can’t see any point to it, we name the randomness “mistake.” Fine, call it that. It’s all part of perfection’s unfolding – for perfection is not static. Rather, your perfection includes your arc of growth and development.

It is your being and also your becoming.

Perfection doesn’t mean that there aren’t those things we label mistakes, nor does perfection mean possessing every possible skill. A perfect flower is a perfect flower, even if it can’t dribble a basketball, or work a geometry proof. And you're a perfect you -- mistakes and lacks of skill and all.

The thing is: sometimes we all have a hard time seeing our own perfection – let alone other people’s perfection.

That's where we need friends along the path.

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This is part 1 of 4 of "Friends Along the Path"
Next: Part 2: Paying More Attention

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