From Our Minister

Last week, as agreed upon by the Unitarian Universalist ministers and our congregations in the Alabama and Gulf Coast Cluster, I preached at the UU Fellowship in Auburn while their minister is on sabbatical. Amanda Schuber graciously accepted my invitation to fill the pulpit here, introducing our theme for February, Desire.

The question to ponder this month is

What Does It Mean To Be A People of Desire?

Here are some additional thoughts on the topic, for your consideration.

Fall in love with
the agony of love
not the ecstasy
then the beloved
will fall in love with you
— Rumi

Is it possible that this month is really about heartbreak? We may be able to indulge some desires without much cost, but we are fooling ourselves if we think we can pursue spiritual desires without suffering a broken heart. The desire for a better world. The hunger for deep connection. The longing to actualize our full potential. Leaning into these desires is to let yourself care deeply for what can’t ever be fully attained. When it comes to the most beautiful and noble of our desires, it’s all about loving and pursuing that which will always be out of reach.

And of course we reach anyway. We can’t help ourselves. It’s what it means to be human. Plato puts it this way: “We are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods and which would have us believe that we can have a great love, perpetuate our own seed, and contemplate the divine.” Notice the implicit plea to be grateful. It comes “from the gods” he says. This madness, this dis-ease, these unstoppable desires for great love, great change, and great connection are a gift! The prize is not the moment we are finally quenched; it’s that first moment when we were wonderfully cursed with thirst! Heartbreak and heartache are not dangers to be avoided; they are signs that we are living fully and leaning into the holy dis-ease that makes us most human.

It’s why Rumi says “fall in love with the agony of love.” He knows many of us avoid pursuing our deepest hungers because of fear. No one’s deepest longings ever come true. Better to play it safe and keep those deep hungers at a distance. But in this case, playing it safe also means going numb. And we were not created to go numb.

So friends, get out there this month and get your heart broken. It won’t feel good, but you will know you are on the right path. And remember Rumi’s promise: somewhere in that agony you will feel yourself loved by and deeply connected to life.

Not a bad deal.

In Love and Hope,
Rev. Alice