Sunday, January 02, 2005

Don't be afraid!

I realize that several of these entries have made reference to the Unitarian Church, and I need to make it very clear to anyone who is not familiar with Unitarian Universalism, that I am in no way a bible-thumping christian. It's a liberal and socially progressive churuch. The UU church isn't about believing in god - in fact, it's based on deeds, not creeds, so there is no one true set of beliefs you are required to follow. Sometimes when a hymn or a reading or a speaker mentions god, you can feel many of the congregation grow uncomfortable.

Today the senior minister led his last service, after over 10 years in the church. He was there when I first wandered in, on an Easter Sunday, looking for something - I don't know what, exactly. Not god, not religion, but some of the sense of tradition and community that comes with a church, I guess. Anyway, in his sermon he told the story of Jesus rising from the grave and then he stopped and said, "Wow. That's pretty unbelievable, isn't it? Well, you don't have to believe it. It's not about whether or not Jesus rose from the dead but what we can draw from the meaning of the story." Something like that - it was 10 years ago. My heart just swelled. I was sitting in a beautiful 1830's church, filled with gorgeous stained glass windows (some Tiffany) depicting angels and saints and great thinkers, listening to a wonderful choir in long formal robes and a stately old organ, and the man in the pulpit was telling me that not believing in Jesus was okay. I wasn't going to hell.

I haven't been a regular attendee, though, it's only been in the last 18 months that I started going regularly and finally became an official member. Today was particularly sad, and I have to promise myself to keep going back. Like many, I went because Fred was such a wonderful speaker and I loved listening to him. It was like sitting in a beautiful room listening to a very smart and well-read philospher once a week. With music. Someone in the ladies' room after the service said she probably won't be back, because it won't be the same. It is, obviously, going to be a turning point. We'll see.

After, I went to the gym (yay me!) and grocery shopping. On the way home I passed an older man stopped at a corner with his hands full. "Can you carry this for me?" he said, and I walked closer (even though I had a grocery bag in each of my own hands, and a full backpack on my back.) He laughed. "No, I meant my friend," and sure enough, another man was just behind me. "But thank you - you have a good heart."

And I thought, that's what Fred has always preached - have a good heart. Be that person. And somehow I stumbled into it, without thinking, "I have to be good to get into heaven" or "I hope there is a god watching."


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