Male … White … U.S. Citizen … Able-Bodied … College Educated … Privileged … Gay … Father … Son … Fiancee … Minority … Unitarian Universalist … Spiritual … Humanist … Leader … Organizer … Business Owner … Copywriter … Gardener … Artist …
I bring all of these identities, roles, and more to a new life in a new town.
Moving, although a stressful transition that can bring somewhat jarring and traumatic changes such as a new job or school, a shift in economic responsibilities, leaving behind friends, and losing comforting physical surroundings that represent memories made and relationships started …
... is also an energizing opportunity that offers you the ability to shed roles and responsibilities that no longer bring joy or meaning to your life, let go of unfulfilled plans or dreams, and allow you to finish writing your previous chapter so a crisp, new page can be turned to start the next one.
In a recent Palm Beach Post article about why some people love South Florida and some do not and move away, it was quoted that “moving does not guarantee happiness”, and demonstrates that continually examining how we view ourselves (and others) and repeatedly asking “who do we think we are” is an important exercise in deepening one’s understanding of oneself and crucial to our lifelong spiritual journey.
All life transitions — be it moving, a birth or death of a loved one, the ending of a marriage — push you to take an introspective look at who you have been, who you are at the moment, and envision your future self.
This exercise of self-exploration and reinvention is hardly limited to moments triggered by external circumstances, but accessible from within at any time.
I have found that a very telling way to check who I think I am at the moment is to view the “curated” identity I present via my social media pages.
It offers a quick visual representation of the “public” me by the things I “like” and “share, how and what I say in posts, and what confirmation biases I am displaying through them.
This always forces me to examine how I am presenting myself as authentic versus an idealized or contrived self and exposes areas that I need to re-examine and question further.
Examining identities within a wider circle is an invaluable exercise -- and recently, I, along with many other UUs of the Florida Southeast Cluster had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting and the “Thinking -- and Living -- Outside the Bubble” workshop led by Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith at the Treasure Coast Unitarian Universalist Congregation in nearby Stuart.
A healthy number of our Congregation’s members attended and had the opportunity to (respectfully) burst our bubbles of birth-given privilege, protection, and isolation through exploring our roles and identities to develop deeper understanding of others.
This Congregation has a wonderful opportunity right now to engage in meaningful conversations about how each of us as individuals and as a whole define this religious community as well as examine how the larger community perceives us.
Being new to this Congregation — I have a much different perspective than a member who has been involved for decades. I look forward to getting to know all of you better — and you me — by hearing your experiences, expectations, beliefs, and values and sharing mine with you.
But, by all of us raising our voices to share, listen, and redefine ourselves as a religious community — we can both illuminate our congregation’s positive attributes and identify its “growing edges” — all invaluable for informing our developing a ministerial road map for our future.
Much like the brightly colored and patterned strips of fabric that make up the tapestry panels in our sanctuary, all of our unique — as well as shared identities and roles — are woven into a vibrant and pattern that incorporates each individual into one cohesive whole.
It takes a lot of stitching, weaving, and pricked fingertips to bring the whole forth, but the journey and the results can be magnificent.
This exploration of the mystery, and the movement of the unknown into the light, is one of the projects of our spiritual journeys. Deepening our understanding of ourselves. Gaining courage in exposing more of ourselves to others. This is one of the important ways that we find meaning in our lives -- how we discover our truth.
Creating a safe space for this exploration is one of the important functions of a religious community. Providing opportunities for people to know themselves better. Encouraging respectful engagement … that allows us to walk together on the journey… and to live more fully into the possibilities of human relationship.
We are here to nurture these important human needs. To know ourselves and to know others.
As we move more and more of our lives in the sunshine, we have more light on our path, and more warmth in our relationships, and more energy to give back to the world.
Amen and blessed be.
(With gratitude to Rev. Kathy Schmitz of 1U Orlando for her inspiration in developing this service)
Excerpts from "Who Do You Think You Are", a sermon delivered by David Traupman at 1stUUPB, Oct 22, 2017.