Kurt's Reflections 8-12-2002

One of my spiritual practices is to sometimes use the words in the back of the hymnal Singing in the LIving Tradition for my morning or evening prayer  This book, which is, of course, first and foremost a hymnal, includes a section in the back of the book with groups of readings under the titles "Affirmations, Covenants, and Confessions," "Wisdom from the World's Traditions," "Jewish and Christian Teaching," "Words and Deeds of Prophetic Men and Women," and several others like that.  What I do is read a single entry from each section as a form of prayer and contemplation. After reading the entry I sit quietly and meditate and pray on the words. This, as we have talked and written in the past, is called lectio divina or prayerful reading. Every time I use this 'breviary' for my prayer, I come out of the prayer time feeling better, more confident, more optimistic, closer to God.


I write about this today because I think sometimes we believe prayerful reading can only come from the Bible. But, anything that makes us think, pray, meditate, can be lectio divina. Even the newspaper. As we read day after day of the lack of civility in the world, the increase in violence and war, the continued divisions in our society, we can find important words for our prayer in those words and visuals.


Now, we can also find despair in those words and visuals. We can get pretty depressed when reading those words or watching the news.


But that's where the prayerful part comes in. If we read those words, or watch that news cast with an eye toward reconciliation (even with those we completely disagree with) then even those hard words can be a form of prayer. Those difficult news stories can lead us to a new commitment to our mantra: love one another, serve one another, follow Him. And, they can lead us to a new appreciation for all of God's creatures...friend and foe alike.


But what does that have to do with a Unitarian hymnal, you might ask. I love this book because the statements under each category are always positive, encouraging, loving. So, they become the antidote to those hard words and stories I have read or seen. When I use this hymnal I know I'm going to be shown words by people who were the embodiment of that mantra above. People who love others, serve them and yes, follow Jesus. Because while UU's would say they are not Christians (though the Unitarians came from Christianity and there is a large segment of UUs that are Christian) they would say they follow Jesus' words and use them to live by just like we do because his words are about tolerance, love and compassion being the way to live.


Why am I writing this now? Because while it may seem the world is crazier than it has ever been; it isn't any crazier than what our parents and grandparents experienced. We just have more information and more ways to receive that information so it looks much worse. Our difficult times are no more difficult than the past.


But, one thing we can do differently is receive that information and process it differently than our parents and grandparents did. And we can get through these times with the help of others that we experience in what we read and how we pray. We will be fine, so long as we remember to love one another, serve one another and follow Him. I also think we will be fine if we are more intentional about our prayer life, and about who inspires us and what words they use to do so. We have to seek out the encouraging words and visuals. And we have to be serious about not consuming the negative, the hate filled, that which divides us. 


I hope we all are looking for the positive in the world including in our reading and prayer. I hope we all are confident that with the help of our families and our communities, like CCL, we will get through this current turmoil. Seek out the positive, friends. If we search after love, love will find us.


Peace and all good,