Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Both in and out of Foxholes - Some thoughts on Prayer

In one of my early jobs when I was a young adult,  I had a co-worker who always liked to engage me in philosophical and religious debates.  You know the type of person, the one who not matter what you say feels obligated to take the opposite position (Although that was possibly me as well during those conversations).  Well when the topic came to the existence of God, he would say there are no atheist in foxholes.  Everybody is praying to someone.  Never having been in foxhole myself,  I couldn’t verify his statement with personal experience. 
But I have had a few life threatening experiences in my lifetime, and I admit that I prayed the same prayer that St. Augustine of Hippo prayed to his God when he prayed about being celibate, he said Lord, just not yet, not yet.  So I know I am going to die sometime, but just not yet.  This would be a petitionary prayer, asking for something in this case from some childhood notion of an anthropomorphic God.   Often this comes in a time of deep need and helplessness.   It comes when we are at the end of our rope.  It is often an act of submission. a realization that we are not in control of all things in our world. 
An acceptance that although as I used to say, I am captain of my ship, master of my fate, as I have learned, I cant control the sea, or the rain, or the wind, and so although I can set the direction of my life, there are unexpected events, some bad, some good, that we need to be open to and adapt to them. Because even if I am Captain of my Ship, there is an old saying the Captain goes down with the ship!!  So perhaps praying for something is the realization and acceptance within ourselves that we are fallible, that we need help from others, that we are interdependent with all of existence.  It is about acknowledging in our lives the presence of something other than just ourselves in the universe.   But such a petitionary prayer is often used for others as well.  Hoping someone else gets well.  As the Norman Vincent Peale quote in your order of service says, “When you pray for anyone, you tend to modify your personal attitude toward them.” It is a reminder, a touchstone, an intention of your caring for someone other than yourself. It makes that person and the concept of caring present in your mind  And caring about and thinking about others helps us as well. I think this is what Jesus was pointing to when he said, Love you neighbor as yourself.  If we care for ourselves, mentally, spiritually, physically, if we love ourselves, it will lead us to loving others. And conversely if we love and care for others it will lead to loving ourselves. You don’t have to pray to someone, you just have to pray for someone.
Growing up in the Jewish Tradition, I learned certain prayers by rote. After repeating them every week for over 10 years, I can still remember many of them today. (Chant the Sh’ma in Hebrew) Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord is One.  A Unitarian message of oneness if I ever heard one.  Now this prayer has no personal meaning to me anymore.  Although I do catch myself humming the chanting sound every now and then without words.  Some of that is just comfort of childhood memory of days gone by.  But I think that is the point and one of the benefits of memorized or repetitive prayer.  It gives us comfort.  It gives us something to hold on to in times of despair, when no words can come forward we have some words.  Sometimes when the world is swirling around us, we just need to slow things down, and prayer can help us do that and  that comfort us.   Meditation is another form of prayer that can help us slow things down. It is often said that praying is sending out our aspirations and desires to the universe and meditation is listening to the Universe. 
I do consider meditation to be a type of prayer.  I have for a long time had a personal meditation practice.  The Goal of meditation for me is to quiet the mind, and increase focus.  I am ecletic in my meditation practice.  I usually focus on my breath.  But for anyone who has tried to meditate, you will know it is very easy and natural to let your mind wander from the breath. This is not new to us in the modern world.  Throughout history this has been a challenge, which is why many meditation practices include repeating a mantra or a word, or counting each breath up to the number ten as techniques to calm the mind.
Our mind is busy with inputs from so many different parts of life, that we often don’t stop to hear not only what our head is telling us, but what our heart is telling us. We are so often so busy responding instinctively to the stimuli around us that we forget or are not conscious about what is or could be giving meaning to our life.   So I ask you right now to just stop, stop for one second and consciously take a breath.  Take a deep breath. Think about what is meaningful or what could be meaningful in your life. (time for breathing) The ultimate goal of meditation, or any type of prayer is to make us more aware in life. Even when we are sitting in silence, we will hear the wind blow, we will hear the dog bark.  (story of dog licking face)  The goal of being more aware is so that when one is not meditating, you will maintain this same level of awareness.  You will be aware when someone’s attitude or energy is waning, you will notice and be conscious of how you respond to people.  As opposed to merely being reactive, you can train yourself be mindful.  But it takes work.
There is also a prayer practice called confessional prayer, or contemplative prayer.  This is when we look within and discern our own actions, or as the Ancient Greek aphorism goes "Know thyself" This could be through deep thought contemplating on writings, journaling, spiritual direction, connection circles, or  therapy. I have done all of these myself as a way to better understand what drives me and what gives my life meaning and what I find sacred in the world. And once we find meaning in our life it should lead us to action.  Prayer or meditation should never be an end unto itself. It should bring us comfort that lets us go on with our day, it should bring us awareness so that our actions in the world should be mindful, and lastly it should bring courage to face the road ahead and the work that still must be done to create our beloved community. 
We need to answer each others prayers. Have any of you seen the movie “Evan Almighty”  Personally, I think it is a really bad movie.  Although I think Morgan Freeman is excellent as God. There is one scene in the movie when Evan’s wife is at her wits end and Morgan Freeman as God says:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does God give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does God give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does God give them pportunities to love each other?”

So I ask you to be open to the opportunities that are around us. Be open to what moves you in your heart. Be open to the power of love to transform yourself and our community.  
In my experience in Unitarian Universalist Congregations and even in seminary, I had not had a lot of experience with prayer other than contemplative study.  So it was interesting that the first time I told my in laws I was going to seminary, and first you have to understand, my in-laws are very down to earth people, former farmers, who are fairly conservative.  So the first time after we visited them after my revelation of my new vocation, they asked me to say a prayer before the meal.  Now in 20 years prior to this they never once asked me to do this. I did a prayer of gratefulness, thanking the farmers, the workers who labored to bring the crops from the ground, the people who delivered the food to the markets, the servers in the restaurant, They haven’t often asked me to say prayers since then.   
My greatest understanding of prayer came to me when I worked as a chaplain in a hospital.  Many people were at their deepest spiritual need, no I take that back, We all have deep spiritual needs, but these people because of their illness were more aware of their deep spiritual need.  What I learned from that experience was that even in the darkest hour of our lives, we should be grateful for what we do have.  Most of the prayers I did at the bedside of patients were prayers of gratitude.  Gratitude for being alive.  Gratitude that the sun comes up every day and goes down every evening.   Gratitude for having family, a roof over their head, food to eat, doctors to care for them.  As the serenity prayer says,  Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
So this past month, I have been doing a lot of praying.  I have been praying that everyone has handed in their pledge cards, And I have been praying that everyone found within themselves the ability to be generous so that this Congregation can continue to be a meaningful part of your lives and in the life of the larger community.  We did one on one stewardship visits again this year, because we heard from many of you that you enjoyed getting to meet other Congregants and as well we also wanted to know what you found meaningful, and what you hope to find in the future to make your religious life more meaningful.  Myself and the leaders of this Congregation want to hear from you.   When you go downstairs after service, you will find a large silver bowl.  You will find slips of paper and pens.  We would ask that you to write your hopes and dreams for this Congregation on the slips of paper and put them in the bowl.  
Now a few weeks ago, the children and youth  created posters of their dreams for the Congregation. (we are not asking you to do posters, although if you want to you can). We want to hear from you because it will be easier to achieve our vision and mission, it will be easier to make our experiences here meaningful if we are all working together and rowing in the same direction. We are all in this together. I recently posted pictures of those posters the children and youth did on Facebook and someone messaged me and praised me about how wonderful they were.  And the truth I had to respond and you should know that I had almost nothing to do with that. 
I sat together with the Stewardship Team,  if they are here today, I would ask them to stand….for the last two years Barb Robinson, Mona Mcray, Amber Laughead, and this year Kate Rathmann Hanson, Emily Smith and Elaine Kresse – (give them a hand). (acknowledge visiting stewards as well) The Stewardship Team and I sat together and worked on our vision of  Stewardship and the Annual Pledge Drive and then they created it and implemented it and had a lot of laughs in-between.  They implemented it.  The powerful moments, the skits, the training for visiting stewards, the brochures and much more.  Countless hours and hard work because they believe in the vision and mission of this congregation
            The work this Congregation does will determine if our dreams come true.  I believe in my heart we have something very special here, and its because you make it special.   I say prayers of gratitude every morning for what I have.  And ultimately prayer of gratitude are prayers of celebration. A Celebration of life.  We should celebrate life, and our lives and what you have created here and what we hope to still yet create here in the future. So after the service we will have a special celebration downstairs to Celebrate the ending of the Annual Pledge Drive. 
Let us celebrate our past, our present and our future, let us celebrate hope, Let us celebrate love, Let us celebrate our vision and mission, let us celebrate our lives, both the joys and sorrows, the ups and downs, the good and bad, let us celebrate life when we wake up in the morning and when lie down at night, let us celebrate life when you are home, at work in the community  and when you are here at the Congregation.   “This is the day we have been given. Let us rejoice and be glad.”All this I pray in your name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Standing on the Side of Love

I sometimes forget how old I am. After reading the opening reading, I was thinking it was only 1967 when inter-racial marriage was legalized by the supreme court of the United States.  Then I realize that 1967 was 45 years ago.  In the scheme of the world, not a long time, but it was in my lifetime.  I think we tend to think of things that happened in our lifetime as not a long time ago no matter how old we are.  Its been 45 years and it seems we are still fighting in this country for the freedom to marry the one you love. There have been same sex relationships since long before my lifetime. In fact I would say there have been such relationships since the beginning of time. 
Even our oldest religious books, which have passages prohibiting same sex relationships, the fact that there is a passage prohibiting it, gives notice to the fact that there were enough of these relationships happening to make mention of it.  But for a long time in our history, partially because of these statements written into our culture’s religious books, our western culture has suppressed same sex love. Now I could go into text by text and refute it, and find you texts that support same sex relationships, but that is for another day.  The fact is these relationships have always existed. 
In my lifetime, growing up through high school, I admit I didn’t know many gay or lesbian people or if I did, they didn’t share that information with me, because it was dangerous to be out, significantly more so then, than now.  One should never have to feel in danger merely by telling someone their sexual orientation.  We in the majority who are heterosexual , wouldn’t think twice if asked to tell someone we were heterosexual.  But for too long that was not the case for those who are not heterosexual. Too often they lived in fear, fear of being shunned by their family, fear of being discriminated in their profession. Fear of being rejected by their society.  But that time is coming to an end. Love will win the day.
My first experience of knowing a Gay man was one of my parents friends who had a son who was about 8 years older than I,  who would occasionally come to family gatherings, and I heard whispers about him from my parents that he was gay, but then that was quickly  followed by he is an artistic type who is moving to Hollywood.  So lets be clear that the message I received when I was a young child was that artistic types who move to Hollywood are gay. So I assumed all the gay people lived in California. That may sound na├»ve, but unlike today’s ability to share information via social media as a child it was easy to be unaware. Sex in general, let alone sexual orientation was just something that was not talked about.  I am proud that since 1971, the UUA has provided materials for sexuality education in our classrooms, first with ABS, about your sexuality, and now OWL, Our Whole lives. I have to say this benefited my children greatly and that when my children took OWL, it provoked great conversations on the car ride home probably conversations I might not have otherwise had.  We believe in gaining knowledge and wisdom as it becomes available, so why would we not do the same in regard to sexuality.
Then when I was 17years old I went to work in the mailroom of an Advertising Agency in Manhattan and moved to Greenwich Village in Manhattan and my view of the world changed. For those who are not familiar with it,  at least back in the late 70s  when I lived there, Greenwich Village was an area of the city that was not only the most hip place to live, but the neighborhood was also heavily populated by gays.  I use the term gay in that instance to define people of all different sexual orientations.  Back then the word Gay was used as an overarching word that covered all sexual orientations.  Now we use the phrase LGBQTIA which stands for Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Questioning, Transgender, Inter-sexed and asexual.  Q is sometimes used as Queer often by youth as a way to re-claim the word that has been used against them in a derogatory way. The A is sometimes used as Ally as well.  I consider my self an ally of people of all sexual orientations.  I am an ally to use my power in support of and to give others power that society as a whole does not always freely offer. 
Being an ally at first was an abstract issue of fairness.  I was raised to side with the oppressed.  Every year we would repeat at our Passover Seder, because we were once slaves in the land of Egypt, because we had been oppressed we could not allow others to be oppressed. And in most recent memory, in my parents generation, they lived during the time of the Holocaust when no one came to the aid of the six million Jews and many others who died in the concentration camps of Germany.  We would use the phrase never again.  I was taught, we should not allow discrimination against anyone.  Never again for anyone.
(talk a bit about UU Principles that support this – Inherent Worth, Justice Equity and Compassion in human relations)
              But abstract thought only works in the abstract.  When the rubber meets the road, when you have to sacrifice something of worth, when you have to cede your power to others, then the abstract can lose its allure. But living in Greenwich village was anything but abstract.  It was as real as it could get.  It was a great experience for me to live in a community where being heterosexual was a minority.  Now I knew that in the larger world I was still in the majority, so I never felt threatened in any way, but it gave me a perspective of how someone who has a sexual orientation of the non majority might feel within a community.  But really what I found, what I was embedded in, was a community of people.  A quite diverse community of people, Straight, Gay, trans, white, black, brown, rich, poor, creative and yes even some quite pedantic people. Just human beings trying to live their lives to the fullest and struggling and triumphing, and falling and rising. Coming together to create community.
But by the mid 1980s, the AIDS epidemic had become endemic among gay men. Friends, acquaintances,  neighbors, store owners, started dying at an alarming pace, and initially whether out of fear or hatred, very few people came to help.   Never again, Never again rang in my ears.  But there were also people who cared, people who despite not knowing the risk to themselves, cared for people stricken by this disease, and although many lives were lost, it showed me that love could win the day.  The truth is back in the seventies, it was a little wilder, partly because being gay became a counter culture and I think in part because there was no legal right to marry.   What I experienced, was that although there were some people who were in a committed relationships, when you don’t have the right to marry, people were less likely to be in a committed relationship.   I do think marriage is a good institution.  How did the Beyonce song go, if you liked it you should have put a ring on it?  I know marriage hasn’t worked for everyone, but to me the point of the institution of marriage, is that it allows for committed relationships to be recognized by the community. It is a sacred event that is an aspirational statement about the commitment of your relationship.   Any two people who love each other, no matter what their sexual orientation should be allowed to be part of the community…the beloved community
Unitarian Universalism has a long history of supporting Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Issues. Among the many programs started by the UUA, I could go on and on seriously, but  let me hightlight a few:
1970 the General Assembly of Congregations passed a Resolution to end discrimination against homosexual and bisexuals.
In 1973 UUA created a Denominational office that is now known as Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Ministries.
In 1989 we created the Welcoming Congregation program to be intentional and educational in our Congregational life on these issues,
In the mid 90s we started training on issues about transgendered persons. 
         And in 2008 in the wake of the shooting at our Knoxville Tennessee Congregation due to their welcoming nature,  out of this tragedy, arose a response from the entire  Knoxville Community that was described as an outpouring of love.  A moment when people realized that what they once thought of as harmless rhetoric had led to hateful, hurtful, harmful actions.  Religious people from all walks of life realized that the gospel we need to be speaking about is one of love not hate. One of love not fear, one of love not alienation. 
And so arising from the groundswell of such feeling the Standing on the side of love campaign was created. It was created with the stated goal of “harnessing love’s power to challenging exclusion, oppression, and violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, race, religion, or any other identity.”  They have written sonnetts about love, written songs about it, made movies about it.  But how does one harness the power of love.  We have talked about many values these past two years. Compassion, Sacrifice, patience, gratitude, hope, courage and hospitality to name a few.  I think woven through each of those is the value of love. Love not in some abstract way, but love in a real way. Love as a verb.  How do we live with love in our hearts for another. How do we live with love in our actions towards one another. When we act out of a place of love we cannot harm another. It is the act of love that counts.  Not the intention or aspiration, but how we act.
            Now I know there are some of you who believe that religion should focus on religion and not on social justice.  And since we are a pluralistic religion that allows for differing beliefs, I respect that. But I ask you all to consider, if we are to uphold the value of love, how can we sit by as religious people, as people of values, as people who state in our Congregational vision that we support social action initiatives in our congregation. How can we sit by while others are suffering. How can we sit by as families are torn apart by our immigration laws, how can we sit by while somewhere in the quad cities children are bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  How can we sit by in this great country of ours when in some states  two adults who love each other still cannot marry.  How can we sit by if we truly claim to stand on the side of love.   Let us make our vision true.  I ask every one of you if even in some small way, by writing a letter to your congress person or senator or the president about  immigration reform that keeps families together, that allows for a path to citizenship for hard working honest immigrants, or to volunteer  with our ESL or tutoring at Williams Middle School and the West Davenport Center, or to work with our new LGBQTIA advocacy group (you now know what those letters mean).  Let your hearts be heard, and let your hearts lead you.  Let us say never again to injustice, never again to hatred, never again to fear.
There is a story of an old Hasidic rabbi who asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and the day had begun, for that is the time for certain holy prayers. “Is it,” proposed one student, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?” “No,” answered the rabbi. “Is it when you can clearly see the lines of your own palm?” “Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell if it is a fig or a pear tree?” “No,” answered the rabbi each time. “Then what is it?” the pupils demanded.  “It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that they are your sister or brother. Until then it is still night.” Let the daylight in. Let us stand on the side of love. Let love win this day. May it be so.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

You Say You Want An Evolution

Proverbs Chapter 11 verse 29 states “Those who trouble their households will inherit the Wind.” Some of you may be familiar with that phrase.  It was the title of a play and then a movie about the Scopes Trials in 1925. Although the script play fast and loose with the facts of the actual event, The Scopes trial was an actual trial where a teacher was put on trial for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution.   What does it mean to inherit the wind.  Having lived through and experiencing  numerous  hurricanes in my 18 years living in Florida, I can tell you that inheriting the wind is to inherit something that is noisy  relentless and destructive.  When you are in the middle of the eye it is quiet, eerily so, sort of like when you believe something despite knowing the facts are to the contrary.  You are in a bubble, but as soon as you move from where you are, as soon as you come out of the eye, as soon as you engage with other people, the winds blow and destruction happens.   And as we come upon Charles Darwin’s Birthday this week I was thinking of this play. I am thinking about how Evolution plays a part in our religious and spiritual life, and wondering as to whether and how humanity will continue to evolve.   For if species do not evolve they often become extinct. 
Evolution can cause a revolution in the world and in our lives.  When I think about revolution I often think of it in two ways.  The first thought my mind goes to when I think of revolution is political upheaval.   This type of change happens when a large enough constituency of people see a better way to organize the lives of the society they live in.   This type of revolution has now been aided by the evolution of Social Media.  Those that have adapted to social media have learned to use it to create revolution and overcome oppression.  The evolution and revolution of social media has broken down barriers between cultures and countries.  
So for those who are resisting, get on Facebook Twitter Tumblr and like our Facebook page, join the revolution.   The second  type of revolution, is in a way of thinking.  Some revolutionary ideas over the course of evolution include creating fire, creating language,  the creation of the printing press, creation of different modes of transportation,  to the creation of the internet.  (I’ve even heard there is this new thing, called an iron to get the wrinkles out of my shirts. I haven’t tried that one yet. But what a  Revolutionary idea.)  Each of these revolutionary creations have changed the way we live our lives and changed the way we interacted with others.  Each one has caused disruption to the way things were, but each one forced us to adapt as a species.
 When we look at Darwin’s theory of Evolution in a very simplified way, it speaks to a species and its traits survival being based on its ability to adapt to its changing environment. We have often heard the phrase “survival of the fittest”.  But Darwin actually did not write that, but I guess it sounds better than the “survival of the adaptists”  Darwin showed that changes were only very gradual and over a long period of time and was clear to point out that the changes due to evolution did not indicate improvement of the species just its adaptability to survive. 
Of course in order to improve, we first must survive.  Often evolution involves cooperation.  Just as a single cell amoeba had to cooperate with other single cell amoebas to form a multi cell amoeba before we could have ever come into existence.  We as individuals and our society are becoming more and more complex, and more importantly, we are becoming more complex at an exponential pace.  Therefore,  we as humans have to learn to cooperate with each other if we are going to survive. We are adapting. Individuals and societies who adapted to the idea revolutions I spoke of earlier were the one’s who have prospered and who have survived. 
But at what point will survival of our species require us to cooperate with each other versus waging violent wars on a cyclical basis.  When will survival of our species require that we cooperate with the land we live on instead of excavate it.  We have heard recently of the terrible smog problem in China.  It wasn’t too many years ago that we had similar problems in this country, particularly in California.  We could have chosen to ignore it, but we determined that for our survival we needed to make a change. And we changed.  We will have to choose whether we are going to continue on the course we are following and continue to destroy our planet, or will we take the actions that we now we need to take to not only survive but to thrive as species.  This led me to think about the question as to whether religion is a trait that is necessary to help humanity evolve.  What is it about religion that helps us not only survive as a species but thrive as a species. Well I think at a most basic level, religion gives comfort to people in the face of our awareness that we are going to die.  The uniqueness of our species, is our self awareness of our eventual death and our ability to express our thoughts about it.  How we express our thoughts has changed over the years, it has become more complex, but ultimately this is the question we deal with, knowing we are going to die, how are we going to live.  Religion does require sacrifice on all of our part.  Religion utilizes our time and resources. We take all our single cells and combine them with other single cells to transform us into something that is better than what we ever could have been alone. 
Religion is not only a reminder that we are not alone, but religion consistently reminds us and connects us to the concept that we are part of something greater than just ourselves.  That we are a part of the evolutionary process,  that we are part of the universe, not separated, not isolated, but connected, and interdependent with it and with each other.  The universe would not exist in the way that it does today without us.   Part of the challenge of religion today is that it is telling the same stories, with the same interpretation for the past two thousand years. 
The beauty of Unitarian Universalism is that it is dynamic religion and it adapts to the changing times and to the new knowledge and experiences we have in the world. Creation and revelation are ongoing and we are a part of it.  Religion has always used symbols to help us understand our place in the creation of the universe.  Those symbols change over time, and have to be reimagined and reinterpreted, but they still have meaning.  Let me explain. Has anyone out there seen the movie Lion King?  It is a great movie if you haven’t.  It is the story of the journey of a lion cub to self discovery.  There is one scene in the movie that I found enlightening.  Simba the lion and his friends Pumba the warthog and Timon the meercat are sitting in field looking up at the stars and Pumba asks Timon do you ever wonder what those sparkley dots are up there are, and Timon says I don’t wonder I know, they are fireflies that got stuck in the big blueish black thing, and pumba disappointedly responds, Oh, I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away…and then they ask Simba, and Simba says: Somebody once told me that the great kings of the past are up there looking over us.  
And although one of those answers may have been the more scientific technically accurate answer, (I’ll leave that to you to figure it which one) I think one could say that none of the answers were incorrect from the perspective of the speaker in that it helped each one gain meaning to their understanding of the world.   The stars in the sky are our ancestors . We are actually made out of the stuff of stars.  A star had to go supernova, had to be destroyed in order for our planet to be in existence and for us to be here today.  
We are part of a long line of causal effects over the course of the existence of the universe.  
The late  Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard Paleontologist said “the pathways that have led to our evolution are quirky, improbable, unrepeatable and utterly unpredictable. Human evolution is not random; it makes sense and can be explained after the fact. But wind back life's tape to the dawn of time and let it play again–and you will never get humans a second time.”  That’s a daunting thought. And so the primal question we have to ask ourselves is, do we believe that evolution, that the conditions that brought us to this point in time have meaning?  Do we believe that the universe and our lives are just a random set of events or do we believe there is a purpose for our existence? We are a meaning making species. What things mean may change over time. Including religion.  But what we believe does matter.  For we often create self fulfilling prophesies.  Do we believe that we can have a shared ethic as a human species and if we do, if we believe that is possible, how do we work to make that possible. And if we believe that there is an evolution of humanity then we should be open to the idea of an evolution of faith.   
James Fowler in 1940 wrote a book entitled Stages of Faith which I still find relevant today. The highest stage of faith he calls a Universalizing Faith which involves “overcoming the paradox between realizing the possibility of an inclusive commonwealth of being and ones need to preserve their own being and well being.” Sometimes we have to lose something, sometimes things have to be destroyed in order for evolution to move forward.  Maybe what is lost is our belief of our superiority and exceptionalism, perhaps what must be lost is our materialist way of living. Perhaps what must be lost is our compartmentalizing all the different aspects of our life and society. 
Fowler asks us to ponder these questions: 
What are you spending and being spent for?  What commands and receives your best time, your best energy?
What causes, dreams, goals or institutions are you pouring out your life for?
As you live, what power or powers do you fear or dread?  What power or powers do you rely on or trust?
To what or whom are you committed in life?  In death?
With whom or what group do you share your most sacred and private hopes for your life and for the lives of those you love? Do you share them with anyone?
What are those most sacred hopes, those most compelling goals and purposes in your life?
Those are the questions he asks us to ask ourselves as a way to find meaning in our life. These are important questions to dwell on.  As the opening reading said, “Our spiritual growth awakens our potential, pressing us deeper inward to pick up that design and outward to express our creativity in the world.”  It is not enough to do one or the other.  We must do both.   If we only focus on the inward, it will lead to narcissism and isolation. If we only focus on the outward, we will burn ourselves out and forget why we are doing what we are doing. 
We need to look inward, to retell our story, to reimagine the ever fast paced ever changing universe, to re-invigorate the passion that is lost in all the suffering we see in the world  and to reconnect to the interdependent web of life.  There are many challenges facing us in the world today.  There is a strong wind blowing. Its time to end the troubles in our human household.  It will take time to have an evolution that leads to a revolution. So maybe we need a revolution to lead to our evolution.  A revolution of caring, a revolution sharing, a revolution of hope, and a revolution of love.   May it be so.