As some of you may recall, I am an unusual atheist; that is, someone who enjoys theo-philosophical discussions and has been known to frequent not one but two places of worship.
Nearly a year ago, I rejected my urge to decide between the Quakers and the Unitarians (prior posts on the subject are here and here). I am prone to swift, decisive action and remaining open was awkward yet refreshing. As expected, it allowed my own emotional reactions to die down and over the ensuing months I experimented with spiritual joint custody.
Like any child shuttling back and forth between two different homes, I am ready now for a period of stasis. I am not assuming the mantle of membership or anything like it, but for many reasons it has become clear that the Unitarians are more suited to me in this particularly active stage of baby-wrangling:
– Words of humor and wisdom from an engaging Buddhism-steeped minister.
– Lighting two candles (one hoping to ease the pain of loss, the other aimed at enticing new life) on behalf of my dear, ever-so-deserving friends.
– Flexibility for my children — Owlet almost always stays in “the big room” with me the whole service, rather quietly for a three year old, and Platypup usually spends the first part with us and the rest in the kids’ room. This is a biggie, as “rather quiet for a three year old,” while impressive, is nowhere near quiet enough for silent worship lasting longer than a few minutes, and Owlet strongly prefers to be with me. I am nourished by the deep connection I feel while snuggling her wriggly body during the short period of meditation and value the religious education by osmosis she might be getting this way, via mood and music, candles and contemplative silence, and possibly a few stray words once in a while. I look forward to the day she initiates a conversation on what she hears or observes there.
– The inspiring energies of such a large body of activist-minded people.
– Structured opportunities for community service requiring little planning or commitment on my part, which I have yet to do much more than vaguely consider but will be trying to incorporate as time and the kaleidoscopic stages of the wee ones allow; in particular, today a call for connecting in meaningful ways with the whole Santa Rosa community, with emphasis on collaboration amongst different races/native languages/income levels, an issue that has been burning in my being for some time now in search of a suitable outlet.
At this point I see my shift toward the Unitarians as a chance to relax into routine again. I anticipate returning to the Quakers in a season or two… Whether for a visit or a longer stay, who knows? There are dear friends as well as might-become-friends that I leave behind at Meeting. The adoptive family vibe is strong in a group with few children, and I know my little ones remain well-loved there despite our spotty attendance. Most of all, for me, sitting an hour in silence is bliss, and a tiny congregation is more native to my introverted heart.
In short, right now I feel very much like a Friend who attends UU.
And I am quite sure this is as it should be.