This past week, I met with my UU ministers’ study group which meets twice a year in order to read, write and reflect on topics that we might not otherwise investigate in the day-to-day work of ministry. This year we read a book called The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humbolt’s New World, by Andrea Wulf. Von Humbolt was a genius and a somewhat crazy adventurer– the kind of guy who would run toward a volcano if it started erupting. He was also the most well-known scientist in his day, the first European to bring about an entirely new understanding of the natural world to Europe. He made connections between flora and fauna all over the world, invented the idea of “zones” and the “cosmos”, advised President Jefferson, and recognized and proclaimed the interconnectedness of the natural world. His name is now largely forgotten but he deeply influenced people who then influenced Unitarian Universalism, including Charles Darwin and Henry David Thoreau.
Last week, I shared a reading in which UU minister the Rev. John Corrado spoke about all the losses that folks in congregations have often experienced. Corrado jokingly writes “We are all losers!” As Gary Adams said to me after the service on Sunday, “We’re all losers, and we’re all winners— because we have the gift of life.” How true!
To be alive is to experience loss, sometimes great loss. But to be alive, to emerge as a being after eons of evolution… just to get to witness the beauty of a New England fall is to win the jackpot. Whatever stripe of UU theology we profess, I suspect (hope?!!) we can agree on this.
This Sunday we’ll celebrate our 371st birthday, from our Puritan beginnings to our Unitarian Universalist present. Like all institutions begun by European settlers, our legacy includes the entrenched, institutionalized sexism and racism of the past. It also includes a lot of ideas which have evolved over time, some of which we hope will continue to be passed down- in some form- from generation to generation. Even North Parish is still evolving- and each of you is part of that. What an adventure.
See you at the Meeting House; there will be cake!