I write this column on a Sunday afternoon, after our Earth Day multigenerational worship service. I felt tearful at both services, full of gratitude and joy at the many gifts of serving this religious community. I feel particularly overcome, at times, during worship because I am so often struck by your collective openness, sincerity, and willingness to try new things.
We live in a cynical world. It is easy to sit by the sidelines and feel jaded and superior. It is safe. There is seemingly no risk in scowling at optimism and hope. It is tempting to deem the world ugly and feel the satisfaction of being right. It takes far more courage and vulnerability to deem the world beautiful and risk being disappointed.
I first joined a Unitarian Universalist church at the same time as one of my co-workers, and we would talk about how unseemly our enthusiasm for our church might sound to others. We must look like cult members, we thought, with our beaming faces and glowing eyes. “We love our church!” We were embarrassed by our own happiness.
Think of that: we were embarrassed by our own happiness.
I spoke a few weeks ago about brokenness, about all the things that break our hearts, our spirits, our souls. I see cynicism like a coat of armor protecting hearts sore from grief and loss and wounds. But the same armor that keeps us protected from pain also keeps us sealed off from love, joy, and healing.
Our sore hearts need the balm of friendship and laughter. Our sore hearts need the healing that comes from singing together, from lighting candles together, from hanging paper leaves on a drawing of a tree.
These are simple rituals. They don’t take special talents or finesse. All they take is open hearts, the courage to stand up or otherwise participate, and the willingness to join in when it is easier to stay seated and silent.
And this is why I’m often overcome on Sunday morning. There you are, hearts open, courageous, willing, singing, lighting candles, hanging paper leaves, sharing flowers, speaking your truths, setting armor aside in favor of love and joy and friendship and laughter.
It is my sincerest hope that the joy and happiness of our small community will spread like ripples in water, spreading beyond our ability to see and know, spreading joy and happiness out into the world that so, so desperately needs it.
Bright blessings, Sharon