Pastor's Weekly Wonder - May 15, 2020

Dear Friends,

Today, May 15th, is National Endangered Species Day.  And guess who is the endangered species?  Never saw that coming.

I took a course once on ritual, studied from an anthropologist’s point of view.  The essential lesson was that a ritual is to help a person transition through an intermediary (liminal, threshold) time, moving in that time from an established way of being to an unknown way of being.    Communion, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation, Weddings, the Blessing of the Sick or Threatened, and Funerals are such rituals. 

When you enter community or adulthood or marriage, when you leave school and parents for enter employment and “independence,” when you must say farewell to a loved one, you really have no idea what’s coming.   If you are lucky, your family and community provide some education as to what to expect.  Recognizing your responsibility for that knowledge is to happen during the liminal time.

We are in a large liminal moment.  To borrow from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, how are we threatened?  Let me count the ways.  O, well – I won’t bother.  It’s in the headlines.

The important thing, I think, is that this liminal moment comes with its own knowledge and instructions.  We will still be human when we find the medical and public health way through pandemics.  We will still be human when we work our way through environmental struggles.  We will still be human when the politics of the future are determined by the strength of our drive for peace, justice, liberty, equity, compassion.  Our role will still be to survive and thrive – and we know that we must do that in communities of individuals who know how to get along.

In time we will understand, I think, if we don’t already, how expansive must be the dimensions of our relationships of caring.   Our own UU tradition proclaims that to really secure a future of safety and happiness, our ways of relating must care well for every dimension of our world.  Lots to learn. 

Being endangered does not mean doomed.  It means there’s lots to do, starting now with educating and encouraging and assisting one another.  We are at a threshold where we have lots of knowledge from science and psychology and history and humanity’s religious response to it all.  And you and I have the great luxury of getting to learn about it and put it into transformational practice – what I think we could even call, ritual practice  - as new wisdom.

See you soon, I hope, on Zoom (speaking of new rituals to learn).   Stay caring.  Stay in touch. 

Blessings for the week,

Posted on May 14, 2020, at 10:26pm