I don ‘t often speak publicly about my faith journey. But recently, my Unitarian Church began including a new component in our Sunday services called “Sharing Our Stories” where we speak about how we found our way to Unitarianism and what it’s meant to us. Recently, it was my turn to speak. The comments below are adapted from what I talked about:
In 1985, I was wheeling my new baby down Main Street in Colorado Springs. On a whim, I decided to check out a small church on the corner, All Souls Unitarian. In retrospect, I think I’d been searching for a spiritual home, but my background in sociology had left me with a healthy dose of cultural relativity and a wariness about any faith community which claimed to have all the answers and wanted you to sign on the dotted line for its particular creed.
Like so many “come-outters” who’ve found their way to Unitarian-Universalism, I was also wary about religion because of my childhood experiences. My mother and grandmother were rabid Christian Scientists in the days when that meant you never called a doctor and rejected medical intervention of any kind. That hadn’t worked out too well for my mom who was institutionalized for mental illness within six months of my birth, and later, like her mother, was severely crippled by rheumatoid arthritis.
Nonetheless, my grandmother clung to her religious beliefs. One night, she was babysitting us while my father was teaching a course at Columbia. My older sister was writhing in pain from what we later learned was acute appendicitis. My grandmother adamantly refused to call a doctor and sat by her bedside reading Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health and Key to the Scriptures. When my dad arrived home, he rushed my sister to the hospital where she had emergency surgery. The doctor told my father that had he arrived twenty minutes later, my sister would have died. That was pretty much the end of our foray into Christian Science.
So, I was pretty skeptical about organized religion. But on that day in 1985, when I began reading the brochures I’d plucked from the literature racks in All Soul’s lobby, I literally had one of those “Aha” moments. Holy smokes, I thought. This is what I am! I’m a UU. I didn’t think I had all the answers. I wanted the right to forge my own spiritual path and to respect the rights of others to forge theirs. But most of all, I wanted a place that was also committed to the transformative power of inclusive love and caring, a community that was about walking the walk when it came to social justice and genuine respect for the inherent worth of every individual.
Within a month, I was not only attending services, but I’d signed the book and went on to serve on the church board and spend four years as a high school youth advisor.
I’ve continued to be an active UU since moving to Louisville. Two programs have been especially meaningful to me. One is my long time involvement as a facilitator for a comprehensive sexuality education program called OWL (which stands for Our Whole Lives). I cannot begin to express how rewarding it’s been to help young people develop the skills to care about themselves and others and make healthy choices in their relationships. The other has been my involvement in the music program as a member of my church choir. Music, dance, all the arts are truly food for the soul. And at my church in Louisville, I’ve had the unusual opportunity to work with its former Music Director, Frank Richmond, a world class musician and composer, and choir director.
I share all this because I think one of life’s greatest joys is finding a place where you feel you “fit” My “A-ha” moment 35 years ago led me to a faith that’s been a special part of my life.
And since I’m incredibly curious (and nosey!), I’d love to hear from you about the “A-ha” moments in your life. What were they, and what difference have they made in your journey?