Reading for Reflection
An excerpt from Theology Ablaze by Tom Owen-Towle:
“Our Unitarian Universalist version of religion is ultimately not about beliefs but about behaviors, not about creeds but about vows – in short, keeping life’s central vow: loving and being loved. What might this mean?
First, love is primarily a verb rather than a noun. Our purpose is not to define love, once and for all. It can’t be done, plus the exercise doesn’t prove all that useful. Our mission on earth is to love – to share, create, give love, to bear love – to be lovers of nature, ideas, humans, projects, animals, plants and the deities…
It’s relatively easy to love when we’re feeling grand or to disappear when the going gets rough or stifling. What’s strenuous is “holding to the difficult” (Rilke), acknowledging one’s thorny past or dreary present. “Holding to the difficult” mandates facing another human being rather than fighting or fleeing. It entails staying awake while staying put. It requires diving into the depths, when we’d prefer to wade in shallow waters…
Just when we think our task is done, love insists on yet one more appropriate demand. Just when we’d rather stay on the periphery of our congregation’s life, love calls us to renew our membership vows, to mount the stage of responsible action. Just when we’re lured to coast in a friendship, love reminds us that truthful, trusting communication is required…
Which will it be for you, right now in your theological evolution: fear or love? If you choose love, then you’ll have no choice but to sit down and ponder: what and whom have I been put on this region of earth to love? As love cracks open our shell, it’ll tell us exactly what this beautiful and broken world requests from us right now.”
Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.
Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.
Only music keeps us here,
each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.
And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return.
– Wendell Berry