Reverence IS indeed a useful and healthy emotion. It can also lie at the very heart of one’s ethical life— and the ethical commitments of a congregation, a religion… maybe even, one day, a nation.
The phrase “Reverence for life” was coined by the physician, musician, humanitarian, theologian and 1952 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965). It came to him while he was on a boat trip on the Ogooue River in what is now Gabon, where he and his wife Helene established a hospital in 1913. While he primarily served people as a physician, Schweitzer was also very attuned to the suffering of animals ever since he was young. He wrote, “A person is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred, that of plants and animals as that of other men and women, and when one devotes oneself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.”
Devoting oneself to ALL of life that is in need of help is something a bodhisattva or enlightened being would say. It is a tall order- even for a widespread religious movement like ours! But this philosophical orientation is one that resonates with many Unitarian Universalists. And so we begin another church year with the understanding that life is sacred, with a desire to help all creatures, and with a shared sense of wonder and reverence.
There are some big, important dates coming up this next week:
First, voting! The MA Primary is Tuesday Sept. 6th. There are some important choices to be made, so don’t forget to vote! You can find your sample ballot online, at My Election Info: Search (state.ma.us)
Second, the first Crossroads Music Concert is on Saturday Sept. 10th. Fun! Volunteers get in free.
Third, our fall Ingathering & Water Communion service is Sunday September 11th. All are encouraged to bring some water, a shell or stone from a summertime “sacred place” – which might be your backyard. (Water provided for those who forget.)
The Water Communion is a UU ritual that operates on several levels at once. It reminds us that earth’s beauty and “holiness” are present all over the place… and accessible to us all. It symbolizes our intent to always carry a sense of wonder, humility and gratitude within us. It reminds us that all are welcome and all of us bring unique experiences, understandings and gifts to the congregation. And it symbolizes our intentional, conscious decision to choose community, to create community again. When we each come forward to pour water into a common bowl, we symbolize that commitment and that choice- to join with others to share and create sacred space, sacred time, beauty, trust and compassion.
Maybe you will collect some water, a shell or a stone this long weekend. Next weekend, I hope to see you at the Meeting House!
P.S. Please note in the Board message that COVID restrictions including mandatory masking have been lifted. For those who wish, the far left section of pews near the garden windows will be a “masks only” section to accommodate those who prefer this. (Services will also once again be available via Zoom.)