Still with the goal of seminary swishing around in my thoughts, I decided to take some graduate courses in literature. With my bachelor’s degree in English, I chose a liberal studies program focusing on gender, religion and social issues, while also working to improve my writing skills.
Needing to write about an epiphany in my life, I was facing a deadline and had settled on something plain-Jane to get the job done. But when I began writing, the story was not so plain at all.
What fell onto the page was my early steps to finding my own religion, or even so, finding Unitarian Universalism.
From my early years as a veritable latchkey kid, spending more time tromping between school and (insert name of the latest-independent-fundamental-Baptist-church here) than I did getting my ass home.
It all spilled out, bouts of brimstone by greased old men in cheap suits, missed Sunday evenings with Mickey and The Wonderful World of Disney, and years of over-involvement, prayers for heathens, and groups of righteous people joining to discuss the second coming while eating ambrosia salad with tater tot casseroles, always ending our prayers with the name of Jesus because only heathens prayed only to God.
It was the awareness of an awakening. A growth that I hadn’t acknowledged. The discovery of my faith in the joining of words, in poetry, in writing, in essays and speeches, and my transcendence beyond the faith of my fathers.
I was 16-years-old, and I had taken the first step to my own freedom of religion.
Hey you, over there, even you are welcome here!
“Whatever the faiths you have known or the flags of your heritage, you are welcome here. Whoever you are and whomever you love, you are welcome here. Whether you ran in here today on little feet, or walked briskly, or ambled in, or rolled in, you are welcome here.”
(UUCEP Worship Associate Script)
Above are some of the first words you will hear when attending a Sunday Service at the UU Community of El Paso. They are truly heartfelt by those among us.
Ours is a faith of acceptance and each one of these words can be taken in the most literal sense. Whomever you are, no matter your background, you are welcome without regard to race, class, national origin, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression.
Unfortunately, many are in search of our faith without realizing it even exists! If you would like a more liberal, educational, and accepting faith environment, visit a UU community this Sunday. If you’re unsure where your beliefs lie, a great way to get help is to take the “Belief-O-Matic” quiz at Belief Net: http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Quizzes/BeliefOMatic.aspx It is a truly fun and enlightening quiz that can both affirm your chosen faith, or show you a new path to spiritual exploration.
As a creedless faith, UU’s rely on the support and acceptance by our members of our 7 Principles:
Our 7 Principles
1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person
2. Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part of
As I go on my 2013 pilgrimage, I hope to bring the meanings of these words to heart and to share. It’s simple to list words as they come–simple to list the principles. But what I hope to convey is the emotion behind the words and more importantly, the belonging to the words that come with our faith.
To learn more about Unitarian Universalism, or to find a community near you, please visit: www.uua.org or click on the chalice in the right-hand column of my blog. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a physical location, you can explore UU’ism through the Church of the Larger Fellowship: http://www.questformeaning.org/
For more information on the UU Community of El Paso, visit: www.uuelpaso.org