When I was 25 I was searching for a religious community. As a humanist who loves ritual my choices were limited to Unitarian Universalism or Buddhism. I dabbled in both for a while until I joined the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco in 1997. It took awhile for Unitarian Universalism to grow on me – the worship services seemed clunky and verbose. Unitarian Universalists were a strange collection of grey-haired intellectuals, social activists and home-schooling massage therapists. I did not feel ‘at home’ immediately, but I really loved that for the first time in my life I was not the radical feminist, green party, liberal, outlier of the group. Compared to these people, I was totally bourgeois. It was such a relief! I learned to let down my guard with UUs, and Unitarian Universalism became my refuge.
To become a Buddhist one takes refuge in the three Jewels – the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. They are a refuge in a world of suffering but they are also the vehicle for transformation of the world. That is how Unitarian Universalism is for me. I take refuge in our shared principals; I take refuge in our potlucks – where you can eat even if you didn’t bring anything to share; I take refuge in our huge [round] windows [in the Sanctuary]. When I arrive here on Sunday mornings I sit down and look out [those] windows and my whole body relaxes. For an hour or so I get to listen to beautiful music and poetry and wise words that lift my spirit and remind me I am not alone and everything is going to be okay, which is totally absurd because the world is a mess, our future is grim and on top of all that, I can’t even go one day without losing my patience or being hyper-critical or feeling lonely. But week after week, I come back to this deep well from which I draw a renewed sense of peace and acceptance for what is, which in turn nurtures a bold hope that I can be transformed, that we together are transforming the world through acts of love and justice.
My husband, Anthony, and I give generously to this Congregation because we are deeply grateful for this well, this refuge and this path of transformation.