Cut loose, without devotion, a man becomes a comic.
His antics are passed

around the family table and mimicked so well, years
later the family still laughs.

Without devotion, any life becomes a stranger’s story …

Marie Howe, in her poem Without Devotion, explores the emptiness that results from having nothing to believe in; lacking the meaning that connects a person to something valuable enough that it prompts them to give of themselves. Such lives are often desperate and angry.

“Unitarian Universalists are neither chosen people nor a people whose choices are made for them by theological authorities— ancient or otherwise. We are a people who choose.” Forrest Church believed that it is our human obligation to make choices that expand and concentrate meaning in our daily lives. When we fail to heed the innate need for meaning, indifference holds sway and its cold winds buffet.

In the dark month of December it is important to bring light into our lives. Whether you celebrate the birth of love, its renewal, the winter solstice or find deep pleasure in building, tending and musing before a fire, it is a time to seek illumination. This month filled with festivities calls us to contemplate what brings us true worth and joy, what nurtures supple strength in the individual, families and our community.

What gifts are you willing to receive?

Many self-reliant people find it difficult to accept gestures of empathy or a compliment. They are deferred. UUs, independent minded people, tend to practice a modern version of stoicism, which tamps down the spirit. Public displays of heightened emotion, unless it comes from a child, are often found embarrassing. We prefer reason and people who measure and hide their feelings so that they do not stand out. This cautious approach to life tends to diffuse the bright light of joy. William Blake believed “joy and woe are woven fine.” You can’t have the heights without depth. The splendor of the stars relies on the darkness they are in.

This is the season to practice developing and honing your skills of being joyful. Opening the heart and focusing the mind on what is most important makes more room for joy, and joy needs lots of room. Stretching into risky territory can bring a new suppleness and appreciation, qualities I often find in toddlers who are not afraid of hugging and kissing. My 2 1/2 year old great nephew, Sam, loves to put his cheek against yours, to feel the comfort of flesh touching flesh. He has no fear of expressing his need to be held and loved. He loves to kiss his 4 month old sister Norah as well as his great uncle. I am lucky to be blessed with such a true presence; its gift.

May we all rediscover the innocence that allows us to love freely. May the season bless us with its gifts of devotion. May there be less estrangement. May you know and share love,



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