Abundance Discussion Questions

From “What is Abundance?

So what is abundance, this thing we all want?

Is it having a lot of money? Lots of friends? A job or spouse that provides for you? Enough food on the table? Good health? A roof over your head?

Where is the dividing line between lack, having enough, and abundance?

What is abundance anyways?

 

Prayer

by Marlene J. Geary
Chair, Sunday Services Committee
Unitarian Universalist Society: East
Manchester, CT, USA

How do Unitarian Universalists pray? How do Unitarian Universalists engage in spiritual prac­tice? Some questions to consider for this month:

As a person of a liberal religious faith, how do you practice your faith in private? Do you have any personal religious rituals?

In the book Simply Pray, Erik Walker Wikstrom describes four elements of prayer: nam­ing, knowing, listening and loving. Does this reso­nate with your own conceptions about prayer? Prayer is deeply rooted in our personal beliefs. It’s often so personal that we have no idea what our closest friends and family believe about prayer or how they engage in prayer. Prayer can be both individual and communal.

Let’s open up that discussion. What does prayer mean to us as Unitarian Universalists? As a part of a liberal religious community? What does prayer mean during a service? Does prayer re­quire a deity to be involved? What are humanist forms of prayer? Where is  the balance between the two? How shall we pray? from Judith Quarles (reprinted with permission)

First, let us be open to the silence. Let us hear the sounds in this room, the noises outside. Let us be­gin to hear the soft beating of our hearts. And let us listen intently for messages from within.

Next, let us feel gratitude for our lives and for our beautiful earth. As hard as life gets, as sad or lonely as we sometimes feel, let us always be warmed by the gifts of this life.

Next, let us hold in our hearts all those, known or unknown who are in need. May we find in our­selves the energy and knowledge to bring care to the world.

Finally, let us be aware of the blessing that it is not ours alone to do the work of the world. Love and community work wonders that we by our­selves could never manage. In this time of silence let us form our own prayers out of the concerns of our hearts.

—Amen, Hallelujah and Blessed Be

Surrender

by Marlene J. Geary
Chair, Sunday Services Committee
Unitarian Universalist Society: East
Manchester, CT, USA

 

“Surrender is simple and yet complex. It can be inviting, not threatening. It can be fulfilling, not defeating. It is an act that does not merely effect a natural progression of change; it is alchemical in its magical ability to transmute us from one state of being into another. It is a tool that we can willfully employ for beneficial devel­opment” – Mary Beth G. Moze, from her piece “Surrender: An Alchemical Act in Personal Transformation.”

Surrender means different things to differ­ent cultures. Eastern cultures tend to value trans-formative surrender for providing insight and wis­dom in a curative process. Western cultures often view surrender as the therapeutic result of insight and wisdom gained through intellectual or experi­ential analysis.

Surrender is often paired with the concept of resistance, but it all depends upon if you be­lieve that you have something to resist or if resis­tance is a natural condition. Surrender can be about growth and development as opposed to overcoming obstacles.

Western society is heavily focused on in­dependent achievement. It emphasizes the separa­tion between ourselves and others. Surrendering to something outside of ourselves often means defeat, humiliation and destruction of our own individualism. As a result, we see great resistance to the concept of surrender in the West.

But what if this was not the case? What if surrender was simply a transformation of the self? What if surrender meant access to a greater under­standing of the self? What would you not resist if you knew surrender meant growth of your iden­tity, your life, your soul, your community and your connection to the interdependent web of all existence?

Truth

by Marlene J. Geary
Chair, Sunday Services Committee
Unitarian Universalist Society: East
Manchester, CT, USA

“I call that mind free which…calls no man master, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith, which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come…” – Rev. William Ellery Channing

“What may appear as Truth to one person will often appear as untruth to another person. But that need not worry the seeker. Where there is hon­est effort, it will be realized that what appear to be different truths are like the countless and apparently different leaves of the same tree.” – Ghandi

It requires a certain amount of freedom to be able to seek the truth. In April our ministry theme called us to consider freedom. We affirm and pro­mote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning in our lives. But what is truth?

We start out believing as true the things we feel, taste, touch, see and hear. Then we discover tangible evidence that sensory truth is distinct and subject to biology. It’s a surprise when we learn that humans interpret colors differently. We’re amazed to find that cilantro reeks of stinkbugs and soap to some and offers a sharp lemony flavor to others.

Our circle of learning expands: we begin to see that experiences shape truths as well. Family, home, neighborhood, education and religious up­bringing all contribute to how we filter truth in our lives.

As Unitarian Universalists, we seek to ex­pand the filters of biology and experience. We are invited to examine the validity of what we believe is true. We are asked to keep searching to stretch the boundaries of our beliefs as a part of our spiritual growth.

Consider these questions when you are thinking about truth this month:

What does truth mean to you?

Who gets to decide when something is true?

How do you seek the truth?

Has the truth ever changed for you?

How would you respond to someone who be­lieves their religious creed is truth?

Are the UU Principles & Purposes a form of truth?

Grace

by Marlene J. Geary
Chair, Sunday Services Committee
Unitarian Universalist Society: East
Manchester, CT, USA

“Grace is not a strange, magic substance which is subtly filtered into our souls to act as a spiritual penicillin. Grace, unity, oneness within ourselves …” – Thomas Merton

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamott

We are exploring the theological concept of grace for the month of June. Grace is one of my favorite names. I picture grace as a strong wooden ship that sails through refreshing whitecaps and tumultuous swells.

There are lots of sea metaphors here—ships sailing together find a collective grace within fellowship. Finding in the midst of a storm, a moment of grace. Sailing on the brightest of calm winds, another moment of grace.

What does grace mean to you?

Would you call unexpected blessings grace?

From where do you believe gifts of grace come?

Have you found grace within the fellowship at your congregation?