‘Hands-on’ faith, midwinter spirituality, Sandy relief, and more

A hands-on sort of faith

The new blogger writing at Raising Faith finds her young son’s relationship with the Jesus-figure from their nativity set “both disturbing and liberating.”

Si only has eyes for Jesus. Or, more accurately, he has eyes, arms, fingers, lips and occasionally teeth for Our Savior. He carries him around in the palm of his hand. He kisses him. . . . And occasionally, my orally fixated younger child places the plastic version of the infant son of God into his mouth entirely. . . .

Gilbert Chesterton encourages us in this direction, saying “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”  (Raising Faith, December 9)

Matt Kinsi learns life lessons from his first encounter with the sport of curling.

[The] last lesson—you never know when your dream might come true. If I had a bucket list, curling would have been on it . . . And I finally had the chance to do it. And it was all because I happened to catch a tweet at the right time. You never know when your dream might come true, but you should always have an eye out just in case it might pass you by. (Spirituality and Sunflowers, December 8)

Watching ice skaters glide across the rink, Christine Organ wonders what it would be like to give this risky sport a chance.

Maybe I’d teach [my kids] the importance of swallowing your fear, taking a risk, and feeling uncomfortable for a few minutes. Maybe. You see, I am a fairly risk-averse person. Security is preferred over possibility. . . .

Chuck Palahniuk wrote in his book Invisible Monsters, “The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.” And maybe that’s the only way to really feel alive too. Cut open and occasionally falling down. (Random Reflectionz, December 12)

Sara Lewis and her children learn a lesson in patience from growing mushrooms.

Growth happens when no one is looking.  It happens after you’ve given up on it.  It happens in between the check-ups, the moves, and the fussing. (The Curriculum of Love, December 8)

Midwinter celebrations

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern likes many things about Chalica—except its name.

I admit to liking that it seems to tick off the establishment. . . . When a religion is alive and thriving, the people generate their own forms, spontaneously and often without the leadership, or even blessing, of their ordained or professional guides. This holiday makes me know that ours really is a living tradition. (Sermons in Stones, December 7)

The Rev. Chip Roush retells the Hanukkah story as a fable about Superstorm Sandy.

Once upon a time, perhaps about a month ago, in a makeshift kitchen in Rockaway, New York, Chef Lorence DuPage provided free meals for several hundred people who had lost their homes to Superstorm Sandy. Chef Lorence cooked all day, and well into the night, for several days in a row. . . . Chef Lorence had lost his kitchen to Hurricane Katrina, seven years ago; so he knew what surviving a storm felt like. (So May We Be, December 10)

The Rev. Carl Gregg invites us to explore the unique spirituality of winter.

If a spirituality of winter is about simplicity, is there anything you feel led to let go of in your life? As we enter this season of bare trees and stark landscapes, we can see the transformation of the external world as an invitation to ask what we need to allow to fall away from our lives. (Carl Gregg, December 10)

The Rev. Dan Schatz suggests some of his favorite midwinter music (The Song and the Sigh, December 7), and the Rev. Dan Harper points us to a collection of video messages for children about waiting patiently during Advent.  (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, December 8)

What do UUs believe?

Drawing on the UUA’s First and Seventh Principles, Thomas Earthman answers the question, “What do Unitarian Universalist believe?”

This is the essential “belief” of the Unitarian Universalist: The inherent worth and dignity of every person. . . . The other belief, which is easier to establish as factual,is that we are part of, not just something but everything: an interdependent web of all existence. These are the two beliefs that form the whole essential foundation of the Unitarian Universalist movement. They can be oversimplified as being a dogma of love and respect. (A Material Sojourn, December 12)

The Rev. James Ford woke in the night and sent himself an email with this insight: “By observing we bring meaning to the universe.” The next morning, he explores the idea:

What I find bubbled up for me last night somewhere on the other side of Nod was how meaning and meaninglessness are indeed important things. . . .

[W]hen we bring our human consciousness to the matter, immediately meaning comes into the picture. A little thing, sometimes, maybe ususally. A big thing once in a while.

And sometimes, rare though it may be, our whole lives revealed. (Monkey Mind, December 13)

The Rev. Brian Kiely draws our attention to a new collection of essays on Unitarian identity, published by the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, available for free in electronic format.  (Ministerial Musings, December 11)

Around the blogosphere

The Rev. Christana Wille McKnight celebrates the send-off of a delivery truck filled with donations for those recovering from Superstorm Sandy.

It is hard to express the beauty that I saw in this drive.  Through connections in the community and the goodness of people’s hearts, one idea from one loving person grew into something  greater than any one of us could ever be on our own. (Ordinary Days, December 12)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern writes an open letter to Senator Lindsey Graham, who suggested that a constitutional amendment would be needed for marriage equality.

Perhaps the issue is not that you are unaware of the Ninth Amendment, but that you are simply seeking to raise the bar for a right that displeases you, now that courts, legislatures, governors, and public referenda in many states have affirmed it. (Sermons in Stones, December 12)