January 2022: Living with Intention

One thing I really appreciate about UUism is the unique lack of certainty. There is no great promise to believe in. We do not try to explain the unexplainable. It is OK to not have all the answers; it is good to ask questions. My curiosity pulls me into the oddest of places and I re-emerge bemused, confused, and well stocked with things to chew. From the outside, this looks like a very wishy washy house of worship, but to me this looks like how life works. I am buffeted by the world around me, challenged, lifted up, and tossed around. There is no reason for it, and there does not have to be. We are all on the ride together.
So why is First Parish a ‘church?’ What exactly are we doing when we enter into ‘worship?’ What is the ‘spiritual’ path? To this ex-Catholic, it seemed to me like all these terms got shoplifted from St. Vinny’s. It has taken a while, but I have started to see the light, as it were. First Parish is a place that venerates the experienced parts of our lives, the connections between people and the world around us, and respects the fact that we will not know everything. Entering into ‘worship’ is willfully being together to create the unique space that comes from many minds being present and still. We can move forward on our own spiritual paths by watching what happens during this time and learning from it. No, not every Sunday rocks my world; but just by showing up, I can help create the space for someone else to feel their own experience of openness, connectedness.
It is my intention to make the world a kinder place by being open to and fostering connections. Respect is what openness looks like from the outside. Connection occurs by being present – it is not all that complicated or deep, but it can sometimes be meaningful.  Sure, being ‘open to connections’ is kind of lazy as far as intentions go, kind of like a pot hole: here I am…. Yet I find that living with this intention can be enriching on good days and empowering on challenging days.
Intention is a guiding light, it is not a destination, it is not something to be achieved or to fail at – there is no end point. Living with intention is like having a favorite project that you know you will never finish – like learning how to play a musical instrument, it only gets better.  
Our time at First Parish gives us the space to look at our intentions and how our values translate to action in our lives. As we continue into the depths of winter, what intention leads you forward?  Does it free you to be more present in our world? 
May we all find meaning and connection, and may the winter be.
Eric Studer
on behalf of the Board of Trustees