I have two dogs. One of them is convinced that every new sound is emanating from a fierce beast who has come to devour us. If I even say “hello” aloud he bristles, barks and growls, convinced that I have declared a new scary monster is outside. He is a sweet, loyal, and very anxious dog. My other dog thinks the entire world is made of deliciousness and ear scratches. A new person, new sound, new anything, is a source of wonder for her. Can she chew it, eat it, will it pet her? She is a sweet, loyal, and very goofy dog. In fact, I just lost another stick of chapstick to her sense of wonder.
Both of these furry ones are good teachers. In mid-November I went on a UU clergy retreat (like a mini conference) with ministers from the region. There we met for hours and days discussing a new draft of Article II of the UUA Bylaws…
Hang on, did you just doze off? I promise, this is an exciting part of the bylaws. Article II contains mostly the Principles and Sources. I noticed as we started reflecting on the proposed draft changes, that we were all feeling like my anxious dog. The words in the new draft, the shape of the new draft, any aspect that was new felt like a big bad scary thing.
But we sat around and talked about what we were feeling, whether it was discomfort, confusion, loss, excitement, relief. And gradually all that anxiety and worry began to transform. We started to look at the changes with a sense of wonder. If we talk about these in our congregations, what great conversations could we have? What new perspectives can we witness? Could just talking about this draft be part of what we need to recenter, recalibrate, and regather after this global pandemic and all else that has shaken our communities?
We ended up a lot more like my second dog. We even got a little goofy by the end of the gathering. Perhaps we need a little goofiness to experience wonder. Or maybe it is the other way around?
If you’re curious to learn more about the possible revisions (it’s still early in the process), check out this link. I’ll share more on a December Sunday. And we’ll have opportunities to discuss with fellow UUFA-ers in the new year as well.
But for now, I lift up your power to choose to approach the world with wonder. It changes everything. Yes, as my first dog will assure you sometimes there might be bad things afoot. But most of the time, they are wonderful things you can chew on or that provide a warm embrace.
As we move into the holidays, many of us will experience delight, others will not find much to celebrate. With compassion in our hearts, may we embrace this season with a sense of wonder. No matter what is making all that noise in our lives, let us wonder what goodness and light we might create with it. If nothing else, it’s something to chew on.
With warmth and care,