Expectation – December 2015 Theme

Soul Matters for December: What Does It Mean to Be a People of Expectation?

Wise Words:
God give us rain when we expect sun.
Give us music when we expect trouble.
Give us tears when we expect breakfast.
Give us dreams when we expect a storm.
Give us a stray dog when we expect congratulations.
God play with us, turn us sideways and around.
(Michael Leunig)

Expectation Defined: Merriam Webster says an expectation is a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen; a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be Synonyms: anticipation, assumption, hope, probability, belief.

Expectation Redefined! We all know the common mantra: “You get what you expect.” That’s part of what it means to be a people of expectation from an UU perspective. We UUs believe that human beings have tremendous power to shape and create their own experience. So if you expect people to be good, you will discover and notice goodness. If you believe life is on your side, you’ll see opportunities unfold over and over again. We like this way of relating to expectation because it reminds us we have control. It’s about noticing we have options. It’s about taking hold of the situation and putting our stamp on it.

And yet, sometimes holding too tightly to our desired expectations leaves us blind. Sometimes getting what we expect leads to expecting to always get what we want, and then we are left gasping when we don’t! Being a people of expectation is also about realizing that our human control is limited. It means asking ourselves, “Are you willing to let go of expectation and be led by the Unknown?” Are we willing to dance in the rain when we expected sun? Can we welcome the stray dogs that amble onto the stage when we’re waiting for applause? Letting go of expectations is good for the soul!

Another way to look at it is through the lens of trust. Do you trust that this wildly unpredictable life of ours won’t lead you astray? When your expectations get turned on their head, do you see that as a threat or do you have the faith to live into it?

Some Spiritual Practice Questions on Expectations

Take a look at the questions below, and pick the one 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 expectation means, but to figure out what being a person of expectation means for you today. Which question is calling to you?

  • What would happen if you knew this month was going to be the start of some yet-to-be discovered new adventure?
  • What about your holiday expectations?
  • Are you expecting too much of yourself? What can you do to change that?
  • Is it time to let go of an expectation you’ve been chasing for a long time? How can you do that?
  • Has the weight of societal expectations become more than you want to bear alone?
  • Do you expect the best or the worst of people? Are they innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent?
  • Are you really open to whatever comes? How?

Spiritual Exercise: Perhaps Poems

Perhaps Poems challenge us to turn our deepest assumptions and expectations about even the most basic and beloved things on their head. Take a look at the poems at the link! Consider writing your own perhaps poem, inspired by the ones on the website. Just start with the word perhaps and go from there: http://beyond-the-pale.uk/perhapsShare your poem with a friend!

A Ritual of Expectation

Solstice fire rituals. Christmas advent wreaths and calendars. Hanukkah candles. This is the season of ritual -- rituals of preparation and expectation to be exact. Expecting and trusting the light to return is no easy task. It’s one thing to intellectually believe that the dark always gives way to the light; it’s quite another to feel it in your bones.

All religions say this task is much easier with ritual, and with rituals done together. So this month, recruit your family or circle of friends and engage one of the winter rituals of expectation. Here are a few links to help you decide which might be right for you:

Hanukkah -- eight days of practices: http://www.uucw.org/component/content/article/674-hanukkah-practices

Advent -- creating your own ritual: http://adventforatheists.weebly.com/

Solstice -- come celebrate at UUCW on Friday, December 18th at 7 p.m.! See this link for more ideas to use at home: http://tinyurl.com/pdty2tm

Kwanza -- http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/celebrating.shtml

UU Family Christmas rituals from UU World Magazine -- http://www.uuworld.org/articles/creating-uu-family-christmas-rituals

More Wise Words On Expectation

“A Walk” by Rainer Maria Rilke

My eyes already touch the sunny hill, going far ahead of the road I have begun. So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
It has its inner light even from a distance
And changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which hardly sensing it, we already are;
A gesture waves us on, answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

“Kneeling in Bethlehem” by Ann Weems

And the baby!
Whoever expected a baby?
Whoever expected the advent of God in a helpless child?
Had the Messiah arrived in the blazing light of the glory
of a legion of angels wielding golden swords, the whole world could have been conquered for Christ
right then and there and we in the church - to say nothing of the world!
… wouldn’t have so much trouble today.
Even now we simply do not expect to face the world armed with love.

(full poem: http://tinyurl.com/og2mgnz)

I believe that we live the story we tell ourselves–and others–about
the life we’re leading…If you constantly interview
your child for pain, your child may begin to hear a story of
social suffering emerge from her own mouth. Soon she will
begin to believe it and will see herself as a victim.
(Michael Thompson)

If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom? (Kahlil Gibran)

Related Quotes from the Library Committee

What follows are Quotations gathered by Library Committee members from UUCW Library resources.

From Karen:

  • “At any given time, we have a viewpoint or stance about life; we include some things, exclude others. If we’re sincerely attempting to free ourselves of the tyranny of our stances in order to glimpse a world unconditioned by our prejudices, our attempts themselves will shake up those viewpoints…. When we actually feel our feelings and our connectedness, our worldview shifts radically to include more and more situations and people. Each time we do this, each time we go into the suffering and let it be, our vision of life enlarges.” (From Turning Suffering Inside Out by Darlene Cohen, p. 87. Call No. 294.3 Doh. )

From Ruth:

  • “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.” (St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul, quoted in Hymns to an Unknown God by Sam Keen, p. 68. Call No. 291.44 KEE.)
  • “Thây, there are many questions about cows. One such question was whether our discriminating mind, our tendency to form judgments, is a cow that we should consider releasing.” (From The Path to Emancipation by Thich Nhat Hanh, p. 134. Call No. 294.34 Nha.) 

From Norma: 
Quotes on hope.

  • “Beginnings are opportunities for making endings better.” (L. Annie Forester.)
  • “Blessed are those who dream, for some of their dreams will come true.” Harry Meserve. (From Quotations from the Wayside,ed. by Brenda Wong, p. 47. Call No. 242.4 Won.) 

From Carolyn:

  • “Basically I believe that I am a work in progress and as I evolve I keep cleaning house, ridding myself of old thinking, habits, and beliefs that no longer serve my current life. In essence, I try to make room for new ways of thinking and acting, feeling and being. Some I adopt and some I reject. But the end result is that I keep evolving.” Betty Boone, “My Spiritual Home.” (From Freethinking Mystics with Hands by Tom Owen-Towle, p. 85. Call No. 289.1 Owe.)

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