May the Clay Dance to Balance You

“May the Clay Dance To Balance You” is a line from John O’Donahue’s poem Beannacht/Blessing: “On the day when the weight deadens on your shoulders and you stumble, may the clay dance to balance you.”   This was a poem I used to open a number of meetings this week, meetings with members doing the labor of tending to our organization, it’s finances, it’s staffing.  I thought a poem from an Irish poet seemed appropriate the week of St. Patrick’s Day.

Sunrise at UUFSC

Sunrise at UUFSC

Organizational development.  Finances.  Budgeting.  Personnel. Human Resources.  These are not the words people first think about when they thing of “church” or “spiritual community.”   Yet these are the terms that point to the existential foundation and scaffolding of a religious community.  The “we” of our congregation can exist not only because of our love, our spirit, and our feelings– but also because of the labor, sweat, money, resources, and time of many people that makes a community possible.

Unitarians and Universalists are known for challenging highfalutin, flowery talk of spirituality with the gritty reality of human bodies and suffering.  Don’t talk to us about an afterlife and heaven before you can talk to us about the suffering and struggle of our neighbors and children.  You say that suffering from injustice is okay because heaven awaits? We don’t think so.  Heaven and hell are not ethereal things of the afterlife– heaven and hell are right here and now.  And it is through our imperfect, dirty human hands that we can create more heaven or more hell.

We Unitarian Universalists claim that spirituality is not just something airy-fairy–spirituality is us, our bodies, our labor, our relationships.  It is in our tears and in the dirt.  It is the clay that may dance to meet our feet when we stumble.

This Sunday, we will be worshiping together, honoring our gritty religious tradition and what it takes to make our dreams and values a true, living reality.


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