Ministers Column February 2011

Dear Ones:

Now this is winter! There have been big snow falls—and frequent snow falls—in New England over the years. But not since the blizzard of ’78 do I remember anything like the more than two feet that fell on Wednesday, January 12th. My boys were in heaven with two days off from school. After the storm on the 12th we had six more inches of frozen, wet mess on the 18th and another day off from school. And now, as I write, we’re looking at more snow the weekend of the 22nd. To all you snowbirds in Florida and Arizona who re­ceive this newsletter: we miss you! Come back soon . . . . We could use the help shoveling.

Snow is, among other things, a natural reminder to slow down. I had trouble heeding this winter advice. The universe was speaking to me saying—“slow down!”—and I ignored it. That was a mistake. I was determined to get to some meeting on time in the aftermath of one of those January storms. Tired and sore from shoveling out the top of the driveway, dis­tracted by my malfunctioning garage door opener, I pulled out of my garage without re­membering to shut my car door. The loud crack brought me back to my senses. If the snow hadn’t been able to get me to take a break, a broken car door did.

My mechanic had a good laugh. He reminded me that the same thing happened at this time last year. He was right. I had to laugh too. I want to re-introduce the idea of “prayers of orientation” this month. Prayer is our theologi­cal theme for February. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means for Unitarian Univer­salists to pray. Prayer is, after all, one of those haunting words (see my Oct. 17th sermon for a reminder)

I am a theist, but I don’t believe in a god who answers prayers. I can’t imagine how such a god could exist. So I don’t engage in petitionary prayers (asking god for something). I prefer prayers of orienta­tion. That is, simple words that orient me to my day; words that remind me how I want to be today, how I want to treat others, how I want to feel. The one who most needs to hear them is me.

     May I remember to move at winter’s pace and go slowly on this day when ice and  snow make travel treacherous.

     May I remember to breathe deeply when things (like car doors) break.

     May I move through my day with an open mind, an open heart, an open spirit.

     May I find peace this day.

With love, Rev. Josh