Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins - December 3, 2023
A Place Called Home
From Monthly: "Mystery"
Our Soul Matters theme invites us to consider that we live in a generous and grace-filled world of Mystery. Proposed Amendment 5 to Article II of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Bylaws: “As Unitarian Universalists, we proclaim that direct experiences of transcending mystery and wonder are a primary source of inspiration. These experiences open our hearts, renew our spirits, and transform our lives…” – Comment by Matthew Johnson: “This amendment was created by a group of a dozen ministers, and improved by a small group at the workshop. It brings back that beautiful and vital phrase: direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder. It adds scientific at the request of some congregations as well, and clarifies that gratitude is not our response to all of our religious heritages.” On Letting the Mystery Be… I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything. There are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask, “Why are we here?” I might think about it a little bit, and if I can’t figure it out then I go on to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose – which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell. ~ Richard Feynman I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. ~ Gilda Radner It seemed to me, as I struggled afterward to recall the experience, that self was utterly absent: I and the chimpanzees, the earth and trees and air, seemed to merge, to become one with the spirit power of life itself. ~ Jane Goodall on her mystical experience I like to think of mysticism as the art of meeting reality, the art of richer and deeper awareness. It is an experience that comes unbidden…it is not the intellectual conviction that Being itself is my being, but rather an ineffable experience of that Oneness, flooding in to overwhelm our illusion of aloneness, separateness. ~ Jacob Trapp On Mystery as the Antidote to Worry… I accept that life is uncertain — that the goal is not to become more certain about anything but to relax more into the mystery of not knowing what will come next. And then, miracle of miracles, out there in the deep and uncertain water, I come into a peaceful knowing-a faithful wisdom that surpasses control and certainty. ~ Elizabeth Lesser On the way to the play we stopped to look at the stars. And as usual I felt in awe. And then I felt even deeper in awe at this capacity we have to be in awe about something. Then I became even more awestruck at the thought that I was, in some small way, a part of that which I was in awe about. And this feeling went on and on. My space chums got a word for it: “awe infinitum.” ‘Cause at the moment you are most in awe of all you don’t understand, you’re closer to understanding it all then at any other time. And I felt so good inside, my heart felt so full, I decided to set time aside each day to do “awe-robics.” ~ Lily Tomlin as “Trudy the Bag Lady” Primary Wonder. Days pass when I forget the mystery. / Problems insoluble… jostle for my attention… / And then once more the quiet mystery is present to me… / the mystery that there is anything, anything at all… ~ Denise Levertov. On the Mystery of the Person in Front of Us… To be able to marvel at the face of our neighbor with the same awe we have for the mountain top, the sunlight refracting. This manner of vision is what will keep us from destroying each other. ~ Cole Arthur Riley On Noticing the Mystery of the Ordinary World in Front of Us… Inside It All. Beneath the masks, beneath the names… is a thrumming, ecstatic atomic swirl, unseen and omnipresent, inescapable and holy… How is it I sometimes see only woman, man, cottonwood, spider, self, other… ~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer Full piece On Mystery’s Call to Humility… We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world… We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it. ~ Wendell Berry On the Mystery of Hanukkah… The real miracle of Hanukkah is the fact that, even after the Temple was profaned, it could still be restored. Who you are matters. What you need matters, and your intuition-the still, small voice within-tells you this, all the time. The hard part is making the space and time to hear it-but sometimes in the dark, it’s easier to find that one, tiny flicker that we need to follow all the way home.” ~ Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg When we share something material, we are left with less of what we started. But currencies of spirit, elements such as light, love and knowledge, defy these physical conditions-they increase as they are shared and become eternal. On Chanukah when we use one flame to light another, the glow is not halved – the light is multiplied. ~ Micaela Ezra On the Mystery of the Solstice… Winter Solstice. Let there be a season when holiness is heard, / and the splendor of living is revealed… / There are inexplicable mysteries. / We are not alone. / In the universe there moves a Wild One / whose gestures alter earth’s axis toward love… ~ Rebecca Parker.