Ever since becoming a teenager, I felt that I had strayed from the path of faith, God, and the like. I was baptized as a catholic because my dad was a catholic. As I grew and my dad got sicker and my grandmother visted more and more often, I was often the one to be dragged along unwillingly, but obediently to church to confess my "sins." What sins could a nine year-old possibly have? "I stole a cookie before dinner." BAM. 10 Hail Mary's for you. But hey, at least I got to drink the wine. However, I digress.
So naturally, after my father had past, and my grandmother and aunts and uncles stopped speaking to us, we slowly pulled away from the catholic faith. That is when I decided that I really had no idea what I believe. I felt I was an atheist, meaning that I believe in nothing, no God or deity, goddess, etc. I believe in doing good for the sake of it. Not for some reward of heaven after idea. Get what I'm kind of saying here?
Let's fast forward a few years when I met my husband. He, too was an atheist. But still searching for spiritual meaning in his life, where I was not. But still, I did feel something missing. I can't even really explain it to this day. But we began researching different religions. We even tried visiting different churches and the like. But nothing seemed to fulfill what we were looking for. But then something happened on the computer one day. We stumbled upon something called Unitarian Universalism. I know, I know, looong name, amazing results! Sorry, couldn't resist, for you Jerseyans!
We did extensive research into this religion. I mean extensive. We got books, read online articles and more, before we even decided that it was time to try out our local UU church, which, fun fact, it used to be used as a KKK building, yay, history! Now it is a place of love, hope, faith and friendship.
We first began going when Dan (my mother's boyfriend who we were very close to, just like a dad to us), and my mom wanted to go with us. So we thought, why not? It isn't going to hurt to give it a try like every other church we tried. Well, long story short here, we loved it. Mom, who is kind of old school, was a little indifferent to it, but that was okay. We had finally found a spiritual home amongst others who thought like us. On our first day there, a lady in front of us asked us our religion, I said I was an atheist, and she said "me too!" I knew I'd fit in right where I was that day.
Naturally, after Dan had succumbed to his esophageal cancer in July 2015, we stopped going for quite a while. I couldn't bring myself to go because he would go with us too. But soon enough, Jeremy thought that maybe being around a congregation of others may help me, so we went back. But his absence was felt the day we became members.
In our church, it is a liberal religion with an ongoing search for our own truth and meaning, whatever that may be. The defining belief, according to Wikipedia is that religion is a matter of "experience," and only that person may choose to decide what to believe. We have a whole different array of congregation members, from Christians, to Atheists and more. But anyway, here are some of the tenets, or rather the seven principles and purposes of Unitarian Universalism:
- To affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
- Justice, equity and compassion in all human relations.
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
- A free and responsible church for truth and meaning.
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
SOUNDS AWESOME, RIGHT?
It is. I absolutely adore it. Since becoming official members of the church last April, I do my best to make it to every single service, less my health decides otherwise. They even have wonderful potlucks, like yesterday, where I made unstuffed cabbage soup, and for a $5 donation, you can eat a hearty meal of soup and sandwiches! Long story short here, I love my Unitarian Universalist community, they have helped me grow spiritually, learn to love more, volunteer more, and so much else.
But What About The Kids?
Even their R.E. (Religious Education) classes are top notch. They teach about every religion. This year, they are focusing on the Bible, but merely as a historical book. Do you know how much I love that? I want Syrus to grow up and choose what he wants, but right now with Unitarian Universalism, he can learn about all the religions. Their R.E. classes do so much for the kids. They do so many amazing crafts, Syrus even brought home a beautiful wooden ornament he painted last year. They even throw Halloween and Christmas parties and have one of the awesome members of the congregation dress up as Santa and hand out little treats to the kids. Syrus has even made friends from church, which just warms my heart so much.
In a nutshell, I believe that I have truly found my spiritual home. I may not believe in any deity but I do believe in the seven principles. I've taken them to heart, too. Even if I do not like someone, I understand that they have an inherent worth and dignity. And the web that interconnects us all? I truly believe that we are all weaved together in some form or another.