Rev. Lora Brandis
The Soul Matters theme for November is abundance. That makes sense. It is the month that we are grateful for everything we have. I have friends and colleagues who post on social media something for which they are grateful in a “30 days of gratitude” practice during the month. We are to count our blessings during the time leading up to the big Thanksgiving and then finish out the month with a daily gratitude until we start December, the month that drains us of our attitude of gratitude. December could be about an abundance of a different sort, if we let it. December could be only about getting stuff, if we fail to notice the abundance of what we already have.
The late Forrest Church, long-time minister of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in New York City, is often quoted for his mantra: “Want what you have; do what you can; be who you are.” He espoused this philosophy most often in the last years of his life after he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The quote makes better sense in the tension caused by knowing the circumstances of a life being cut short by an unwanted disease. Church is also often quoted for his definition of religion: “Religion is the human response to being alive and having to die.” Wanting what we have, doing what we can, being who we are, we religious folks notice the abundance all around us.
The starting place for noticing abundance is often self-acceptance. Brené Brown wrote, “For me, the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It’s enough. I’m enough. My kids are enough. You’re enough.” Buddhist and psychologist Tara Brach makes a similar observation when she writes, “the absence of self-acceptance is one of the most pervasive expressions of suffering in our society.” What needs to change in your life so that you can claim the spiritual abundance waiting for you in the simple act of accepting who you are?
You can engage this question and others like this in one of our Soul Matters Reflection Groups that meet during the second week of each month. You must be signed up at least 48 hours in advance of the session you choose (there are three from which to choose). This allows time for you to review the spiritual exercises and the questions for the month’s theme. Signup sheets are in the church lobby or you can register here: https://goo.gl/uUhWUH
As I prepare to preach, I live with the monthly theme in ways that show up for me in my daily life. Even after more than eight years of living with my sermon writing in this way, I continue to be surprised by what shows up. I bump up against the brick wall of my own “good enough” struggle or I find new ways to appreciate the people I love. I discover the newest way to declutter called “death cleaning” and realize I have already engaged that practice after our last move. It gives me great joy to make these discoveries. It gives me greater joy to listen as others make these discoveries in their own lives. This is the purpose of our reflection groups: to listen deeply to the discoveries of each other’s lives and to give thanks for the abundance these discoveries teach us.