Wondertwisted, or what’s in a name.

When you find something that seems to fit you, you have that honeymoon period. It’s a sweet phase. There’s a seductiveness to each discovery, a flush of excitement with every revelation. When you have your first fight – well, terror. Will you still be the special one? Will you go back to feeling somehow chosen for a relationship set apart from the world?

That’s how I felt in 1995, when I discovered Unitarian Universalism, a covenantal religion that prescribes neither creed nor practice. It was exciting to come to worship and share a space with Humanists, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Pagans.

My most significant years in the faith have been the last four. Well, it’s 2010, and the honeymoon is over.

I’m past the first fight, and the second and the third.

I’m in this relationship that feels stalled, even as the craving that drove me to UUism is as present as ever. It could be that the small congregation I joined and served is more inclined to be politically liberal than religiously liberal. It’s a good place for the rugged individualist. It’s less suitable for the person who wants to have some sort of solidarity with a religious community, and serve a clear, shared vision.

It could also be that UUism in general seems to find its identity more easily in political liberalism than it does in a shared sacred worldview.  We’re working for religious transformation, we think. But how? Why? And what for? If it’s to leave a footprint in legislation and nothing more, then what’s the point? Don’t get me wrong. When civic leaders answer a public call to make a more noble government, that’s a gorgeous manifestation of transformation. But religion is greater than protest and campaigning. Religion asks us to make over our souls, and then to serve God’s children.

No such challenge seems to be issuing from the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the congregation I’ve been in for four years is struggling to decide what is it and will be. That leaves transformation off the agenda for the time being. And that leaves me frustrated.

Even though I’m not sure I can stay in the UU tent much longer, I still feel the prickling presence of the holy in my life. With every wave of sadness, every bubbling up of laughter, every new chillbump brought on by music or language or silence, I feel wonder doggedly following me. I’m all twisted up in wonder. I’m all stirred up with no altar at which to pray.

Wonder makes me antsy to do something and be more. The secular world, with its self-help books and diet plans, doesn’t speak to my heart. Doing good work and being moral is a sacred business.

I’m ready for the wonder, and all it imports.


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