I attended a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.
Our first workshop assignment was to brainstorm topics. Probably because I spent a large part of my life as a psychotherapist, steeped in life and death matters, I thought up dozens of topics. Thinking is one thing, writing another . . . and sermonizing? . . .
My topic choice was “selected” by two of the participants (who shall remain nameless in case my topic is a bust) as the one that interested them most. Not sure about the title yet but the theme is the interconnectedness of all beings.
Here’s the first 5 minutes:
“This limitless universe is like the human body, all the members of which are connected and linked with one another with the greatest strength . . . “ –(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 245–246)
Sounds lofty but I’ve believed that since childhood. Don’t know where my belief came from – it wasn’t from any religious leader because I didn’t have any. Even as a child I had the notion – I hesitate to call it a knowing – that we are all connected. . . that we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.
My belief probably originated in my own magical thinking.
I was in grade school during the height of the threat of nuclear destruction, the cold war between the United States and Russia. In 1950 the U.S. began the construction of the hydrogen bomb. Nuclear destruction wasn’t an abstract idea in my 6-year-old mind because I had seen newsreels at the movie theatre – (the days of black and white newsreels, two cartoons and a double feature for 50 cents) – newsreels with pictures of hydrogen bomb tests and people digging bomb shelters.
During the school day I believed the drop-and-cover drills we regularly practiced would protect me . (How adults thought that going into a school cloak-room because there were no windows and covering our heads with our arms would protect us from nuclear attack boggles my mind today.)
At night, in bed, in the dark I lay awake trying to decide where I could go in our tiny 2-bedroom house when we were bombed and I wasn’t at school. There was no safe place, all the rooms had windows. In our backyard there was an old, deep, dark cellar dung into the ground and covered by huge, heavy wooden doors. Too heavy for me to open. The concrete steps were really steep and led into a pitch-black hole. It smelled and I knew that there were spiders and maybe even snakes inside. The cellar was even more scary than the bomb.
The more I thought about being killed by a bomb, the more terrified I became.
I knew nothing about prayer, not to mention God, but one night, having exhausted all the possibilities of safe places, I silently prayed. Silently, so no one would hear me, I prayed for world peace. The next night I prayed for world peace and my mother and father being safe. Another night I added my younger brother. I didn’t particularly care for him but I was as scared of my parents’ thinking I was a bad sister as I was of the bomb and the cellar. Night after night I silently prayed, each night adding another relative. Newly added was my fear it would be my fault if anyone was killed by the bomb because I didn’t pray for them. It was my secret ritual and the only way I could stop thinking about that cellar. One night I was over-whelmed with the responsibility of remembering to include everyone I knew . . . . and I stopped praying . . . I stopped praying for almost sixty years.
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To read Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE
Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE
Read Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE