We call this work “blessing the space between us” (with thanks to the late John O’Donohue). Part of this work is a daily practice we share, by e-mail. Each morning, we read together a short welcome to the day, we take some moments to breathe and give thanks for life, to notice the gifts all around us. We name our fears, find courage, and help each other remember our highest goals as religious people – to grow in wisdom and compassion, to help bring more love and more peace into the world. We remind each other of our connections and shared commitments.
I can’t think of a single wise sage or teacher who said: “build some buildings, or temples or cathedrals and sit in them.” Jesus said: Love your neighbor as your self, oh, and love your enemy as well. The Buddha admonished: Help alleviate the suffering of every sentient being. Muhammad taught: Create a world of justice and equity.
The God of the Israelites offered: I will give you a new heart – one that frees, not a heart of stone. Gathering helps us and makes us feel good – safe in some ways – but gathering is not the aim or the goal of the the religious life. Over and over again, across centuries and across cultures, the great religious teachers convey to us the most important aims of religion, which are to live in right relations, to help others, to live with compassion and to create justice in the world. How is it that we have gone so very wrong?
The Rev. Jill McAllister is senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the School of History, Philosophy and Religion at Oregon State University, teaching comparative religion.
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