When I was five years old, I asked my mother “What is God?” Since it was the 1960’s, she replied “God is Love.” That seemed to make perfect sense then and it still does today! As I’ve grown, however, I had to define for me what “love” is, as it gets overused in this culture. I have come to believe that the Holy is the experience of love and that this love is fierce, prophetic and authentic.
- Love is Fierce. It is fierce like that of a mother bear – wild, protective and intense. Love is not a wholly rational, bound by convention or laws. Love asks us sometimes to get angry and to speak truths.
- Love is Prophetic. This prophetic love is exemplified in the speeches of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who loved his nation and the people in it too much to let it be anything less than what it was capable of being. It’s the belief and the hope that the universe does in fact “arch toward justice.” Love calls us to be active in the world, first by transforming ourselves, then each other.
- Love is Authentic. Authentic love reminds me of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, when, being authentic to himself, he cries out in prayer that the cup might pass from him. It’s such a beautiful human moment, where all alone in the garden, he knows that the authorities are coming for him, that only a horrific death waits. Yet while he cries out, he also stays; he does not run or hide. Instead he faces what needs to come, staying true to himself. Jesus could not be anything other than who he was. Love calls us our highest and best selves.
Love that is fierce, prophetic and authentic is not easy; it challenges me constantly.
My theology is unapologetically idealistic, but it also recognizes our brokenness. Buddhism believes that everyone is a Buddha (awakened), they just don’t know it yet; Christians believe that Jesus resides in each of us; and in Hinduism, that everyone is Brahman, the ultimate divine. Unitarian Universalists express this as the “inherent dignity and worth of all.” I like to think we are like those benevolent aliens from the movie Cocoon, where the aliens wear a “skin suit” so as to appear human, but underneath they are beings of light. This light, in fact, has wonderful healing qualities that bring out vitality and creativity. When I think of my fellow humans, I believe that we too are beings of light with amazing healing abilities if we could just bring them to bear. But our skin suit – our cultural and psychological baggage – keeps us from being fully ourselves; and it is part of our journey in life to uncover our light and let it shine.
This is why I am Unitarian Universalist. I am a Unitarian because I believe the Holy is one – no matter how we name it – as Justice, as Community, as Love, as God, as Brahman, as Allah, as Mother. I am a Universalist as I believe that each of us, no matter our beliefs, experience a Holy love that is so huge it defies our meager attempts to bind it. I am called, then, to love these three ways: to love the Holy, the stranger and myself fiercely, prophetically and authentically. The congregation is a microcosm of the Beloved Community where we work this out together, with all our brokenness and all our light.
Reverend Sian Wiltshire has been OCUUC’s minister since August 2013.