Updated: Apr 2, 2020
The first source from which Unitarian Universalism draws is the “direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life.” This source is important because it reminds us that religion begins with experience, not with words. Annie Dillard writes, “At a certain point you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, the world, now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive. You empty yourself and wait, listening.” This source is important because it reminds us that sometimes openness is a result of being broken open by the forces that create and uphold life.
Some believe that, eventually, our knowledge will vanquish mystery. They fail to realize that mystery is not a thing, it is a process. We plumb it by seeking the truth, but we cannot contain it. As knowledge and truth grow, mystery expands like the universe. We tend to pursue the mystery beyond the self, but we would be wise to attend to the mystery within us and within those we love. Norman Maclean wrote, “For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them—we can love completely without complete understanding.” Perhaps love is one of the most remarkable mysteries we will ever encounter.
As we engage this month with mystery, let us not limit our understanding of mystery to dispel truths which are available for understanding with reading, education, and research. Let us move fully into the mystery of whether we will begin creating a new physical home for this church on 29th Street in Bryan. If we do go forward with the purchase of that property, we will begin in earnest to understand “Who are our neighbors?” and to understand how we can be good neighbors. Let the mysteries begin!