A story from Rev. Suzelle Lynch:
When I was a kid, the only thing that made me madder than being told to “count my blessings” was when my mom used to say, “Every cloud has a silver lining, honey.”
She was right, of course.
But when you’re a child, and your best friend suddenly decides she’s best friends with someone else, well, it’s hard to see the silver lining through the rainstorm of tears!
This month’s Soul Matters theme, “We are a People of Blessing”, has me thinking about those silver linings, though. It has me thinking about blessings in disguise.
Nineteenth century Irish playwright Oscar Wilde wrote, “What seems to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” The simplest definition of a blessing is that it is a beneficial thing for which we are grateful, something that adds to our well-being. But how do we get from “bitter trial” to “beneficial to our well-being?”
A small story.
During the summer of 2012, I traveled with our UUCW Nicaragua Brigades to build houses and community in the village of Piedras Menudos (“Tiny Stones”). It was quite an experience—learning about Nicaraguan culture, seeing the beauty and the poverty, and working side-by-side with the family whose house we were building. The construction was some of the hardest labor I’d done in years—shoveling dirt, sand, gravel and concrete; mixing mortar and moving cinderblocks. But I loved it.
I loved it, that is, until the soles fell off my work boots.
They literally cracked in half and fell off. We tried to glue them back on—no dice. I tried wrapping duct tape around them—in the dust and heat it stayed stuck for 15 minutes.
The only other shoes I had were my favorite shoes of all time, a pair of stylish, flimsy mesh maryjanes. No ankle support, nothing to keep out the sand and gravel and mud. But with no other option, I strapped them on and went on working.
At the end of the first day, those shoes were a mess, my feet were on fire, and I felt more than a little self-righteous and whiny. The minister had lost her soul(s)!
But that was the blessing in disguise. I didn’t lose my soul, I found it.
In the midst of the work, the pain, and the mess, there was a powerful love and friendship amongst our Brigadistas and the people of Piedras Menudos. I, who have so many material things, so much comfort, discovered that the deep connection of helping one another is soul-satisfying in a way comfort can never be. The path from bitter trial to blessing was paved with shy conversations in broken Spanish, smiles over beans and rice, truth-telling about American politics, and shovel after shovel of shared work that shifted my view from privilege to partnership.
Have you experienced a blessing in disguise? How about a cloud with a silver lining?
1. #soulblessings: Writes Rev. Claire Feingold Thoryn, "If you go online to sites like Instagram or Twitter and search for the hashtag 'blessed' (hashtag is sort of like adding a keyword to something), [you’ll see] people, especially celebrities, will post something that is essentially bragging and add #blessed to attempt to make the post sound humble. Celebrity photos of the red carpet, huge diamond rings, champagne, and extravagant travel, all are apparently signs that the recipient is #blessed."
So this month let’s right the ship! Let’s together honor those blessings that are richer than wealth and tastier than bacon, and that are true gifts, most of the time. Here's how you can participate in this communal spiritual exercise: 1. If you are on Twitter: tweet moments of true blessing using the hashtag #soulblessings. 2. If you do Instagram: post pictures of the #soulblessings you see in the world around you (and be sure to tag your picture). 3. If you use Facebook (yes, hashtags work on Facebook too!), you’re invited to post pictures or tell a story of #soulblessings both on your own personal page as well as on our group Soul Matters Facebook page.
2. Pay it Forward. Many of us are likely familiar with the idea of “paying it forward” rather than simply “paying it back.” To pay someone back for a blessing or gift accomplishes little more than evening the score. The concept of paying it forward changes everything. Suddenly the blessings in our life are sources of abundance rather than sources of debt. This spiritual exercise invites you to tap into these sources of abundance.
Two simple steps: 1. Spend a few days assessing the major blessings in your life. 2. Then figure out how to share them. The point is to get so in touch with the way you’ve been blessed that you can’t help but want to spread that blessing around.
As always, don’t treat these questions like “homework” or a list that needs to be covered in its entirety. Instead, simply pick the one question that “hooks” you most and let it lead you where you need to go. The goal of these questions is not to help you analyze what liberation means, but to figure out what being a person of creation means for you today. So, which question is calling to you?
Click here for more quotes related to the theme, selected by church members from church library resources. Check UUCW's Facebook page for further articles, videos, music, poetry, and more, related to the theme.
Each month, UUCW gives half of all undesignated offering monies to a non-profit organization as a way to help us live our Unitarian Universalist values and serve our community.Read more...
Imagine the Unitarian Universalist Church West of the future: a congregation with a building as open and flexible as our theology, as welcome and warm as our spirit, a building with mechanical systems that are healthy and efficient, office and meeting spaces that help our ministries hum along, and a floor plan accessible to everyone! We're describing UUCW’s Build 2020.
For the past two years, UUCW has engaged in a Holistic Study process to discern what needs to happen to transform our building into one that more fully supports our ministry and mission. We worked with Workshop Architects on that process, which resulted in a preliminary architectural plan. Click here to view the Holistic Study presentation.Read more...
Click on the image to read the March 2017 edition of our monthly newsletter, the West Wind.
Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 9:15 and 11:00 a.m.
The Rev. Suzelle Lynch
The challenge is always before us - when to hold on, and when to let go? We know that all growth involves change, and yet it is our human nature to prefer the comfort of the known. Today we explore this paradox in keeping with our Soul Matters theme, " We Are a Risk-Taking Community."
Children's choir sings today for Worship for All Ages! It's also "Choose the Music Sunday," purchased at last November's LEGENDARY Auction by Christopher Zamzow. Look forward to out-of-the ordinary musical offerings today!