Experiences of Transcending Mystery

From Kathleen Hogue UUSM DRE

DRE Kathleen HogueWhile the Seven Principles of Unitarianism may be considered our creed, they do not stand alone as the substance of our faith.  We are seekers of truth and meaning, and our Six Sources are where we go to look for it.  Ours is an evolving faith, and how rich we are to have the Six Sources that are also continually growing.  They are where we learn about the world, ourselves, our past and how to live with one another.  My favorite of the six sources is “Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.”

Recognizing these direct experiences is difficult because they could be different things for each of us. For some of us it may be a feeling we get when walking in the woods, gazing at a sunset on the beach or the stars at night. Or it could be in listening to a song, reading a poem, meditating, or sharing a meal with friends. For others it may be in the birth of a child, the miracle of not losing your home in a fire, the survival against all odds of a cancer patient. One thing is for certain: it is nearly impossible to predict or duplicate these direct experiences. But we desire to do so because this is where we often experience a renewal of spirit and a connection to that which some may call God. 

I find most of my direct experiences of that transcending mystery and wonder are related to being in service with others.  They are where I see “miracles”. I found one following a mass shooting at a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona in 2011 where among others a nine year old girl, Christina-Taylor Green was killed.   Along with other UUs from my congregation, I joined a group called Angel Action, to protect mourners at her funeral from Fred Phelps and his followers from the Westboro Baptist Church.  We stood, some of us complete with angel wings, hand in hand and did not let the hate cross our line. The mourners were able to mourn in peace.  I saw this as a miracle of human love. 

In June of 2012 several thousand  people from across the country, mostly consisting of Unitarian Universalists (but also people of other faith traditions) came together in Phoenix, Arizona to protest the Tent City Jail.  It was an all night rally, calling for the shutting down of the complex, which was known for its inhumane treatment of undocumented immigrants. Most of us held candles and wore yellow T-shirts that read “Standing on the side of love.” Led by the Rev. Peter Morales, we sang songs of protest and chanted, “Shut it down. Shut it down.” I saw this as a miracle of compassion. 

Over the past year at UUSM, many of us supported Hugo Velarde and the others called “the Anaheim Three”. They were arrested in 2016 and charged with assault and battery for resisting arrest. They were protesting a white lives matter rally being held by members of the KKK. We showed up each day of court proceedings to chant, carry signs and be present in the courtroom.  All of which I believe may have been instrumental in the positive outcome that eventually took place.  I saw this as a miracle of justice. 

I feel happiest when working with others for the greater good.  When I am not, I feel empty and as if life holds no meaning. Vanessa Sampson Birchell Buckman from Bridge UU in Jacksonville, Florida writes: “The discomfort and anxiety you feel is the space between where you are and where you know you need to be. Your direct experiences in the space between is where you achieve a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.” No, we cannot plan or duplicate these experiences, but we can create more opportunities for them to arise, when we do the work that our hearts call us to do together in faith. What miracles is your heart calling you to do? 

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