Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Reverence for Uncertainty

I am at the tail end of a rare three day weekend.

Saturday was filled with me and Deb celebrating our 15 year anniversary! I never thought I could stay with anyone this long. I’ve often lamented that my brain is just not hardwired for long term relationships. Perhaps I need to reconsider that assessment.

Today, I got to celebrate the teenagers in our church. These kids never cease to amaze me with their maturity, compassion, mindfulness, honesty, independence, creativity, generosity, curiosity, humor and fearlessness. These kids are what the world needs more of. They represent the best of all of us. Of course there are always questions, uncertainties and moments of insecurity in any teenager’s life (and in most adults’ lives as well). These feelings are uncomfortable and some people choose to try to alleviate the discomfort and fill in the blank spots with other discomfort that they can control by way of self destructive behaviors (who me?). Even though we may not always deal with the uncertainties of life in the "right" ways, those of us who are Unitarian Universalists encourage one another to embrace the questions, confront the uncertainties and hold on for this crazy ride that is life. That embrace can help us face our mistakes.

That is not to say that we don’t sometimes want to jump off the merry-go-round or wish to have this roller coaster life meticulously mapped out, with a GPS, compass, and written directions in 3 different languages with pictures to illustrate...and a bagged lunch, just in case. It’s also not to say that UUs never engage in self-destructive behavior, we are by no means above that, but it seems that learning to cope with uncertainties, questions, and all of the unknowns of life gives us an advantage in a world full of constant change. It gives us an advantage in being able to find our way, with side trips and sightseeing embraced as part of the way.

I’m not sure if I have ever blogged about my penchant for losing my direction. The summer that I spent in London, I never found the same way back from the bar twice. I get lost in my own backyard if the dogs aren’t out there to show me where to go. It once took me four hours to drive from Landing to Kalamazoo because I had no idea which direction to go. And, in a less physical way, when younger, I had trouble finding my mental, emotional and spiritual direction as I kept going off the map to jump into side tracks of promiscuity, alcohol, religious fundamentalism, judgmentalism, self-pity and the paralysis of fatalism. I wanted to feel something by feeling nothing. Self-loathing was a normal state of mind and happiness was scary simply by virtue of being so rare. Numbness was more comfortable than sadness or joy.

Somehow, little by little, I found comfort in knowing that I don’t have to have all the answers. I began to be open to the possibility of not always being right. I found excitement and joy in exploring life’s big and small questions without the expectation of a black or white answer. I came to see that my Truth isn’t always the same Truth as others, but that doesn’t necessarily make one better than the other, instead, it usually highlights a diversity of vision. I learned that it takes way too much effort and consumes too much of my energy when I choose to hate or hold grudges against that which I do not understand. I came to understand that I was angry at the world and hated myself because I did not understand the world or myself. I came to know that understanding is found not in some stagnant dogmatic answer, but in the dynamic questioning of a kaleidoscopic ever-changing universe.

I came to know peace in knowing that I do not need to know.

I believe that our Unitarian Universalist kids have an advantage in knowing that uncertainty is an integral part of the human experience. It helps them learn how to stay flexible in an ever-changing world. They are taught to seek answers, but also learn to be at peace if those answers are not unequivocally answered. They are encouraged to question authority and social pressures to conform to someone else’s expectations. They seem drawn to determine right and wrong based upon the help or harm that an action will have upon the greater good of the world, environment, health and well being of the beings and web in place on this planet, Earth.

Although our Unitarian Universalist faith does not offer neatly folded maps with the “proper” road highlighted, the road that must absolutely be followed in order to reach a predetermined destination, our faith offers something more. Our faith offers the choice of where you want to go and the tools and resources to help you get there. Hopefully the ride for these soon to be adults will not be as bumpy as many of us have experienced. But, if it is, than hopefully they will recognize those difficult areas as challenges that will help them further grow in strength and integrity. My hope for this up and coming generation is that they enjoy this adventure that is their life.

I feel honored to have been invited into the lives of these young women and men as they mature toward the women and men that they have yet to become.

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