A six-year old once confided to me, “I’m afraid of the dark.”
I was intrigued by the non sequitur, but humbled by the trusting confession.
“So am I,” I said, “I think everyone is.”
“No, I’m really afraid of the dark,” he repeated. Hmm, I thought.
“Well, I live in the woods where the lights can go out at any time, and I learned to carry around a little flashlight with me, just in case.”
He looked into my eyes, and a little light bulb went off in his head.
I believe that making eye contact with children and youth is one of the most important thing I can do. When I’m telling a story or delivering a time for all ages I’m amazed at the rapt attention I receive by eye contact. Yes, I’m speaking to you, and to you, and still to you! All of you are important to me. Whatever you are afraid of, you have come to a safe place here. We care about each other. We have fun. And we come back week after week. We are not alone.
Our theme for May is “Story”, and reflecting on my experience, I believe that simply repeating my rehearsed lines may not be the best way to tell a story. Sometimes pulling the thread of a rare, surprising idea leads to an even more revealing tale. Sometimes it is important to challenge ourselves outside our comfort zones.
The UUA Common Read is an annual program that invites people to read and discuss the same book in a given period of time. It can build community in our congregations and our movement by giving diverse people a shared experience, shared language, and a basis for deep, meaningful conversations.
The Common Read for this year is Imani Perry’s book Breathe: A Letter to my Sons. I invite you to purchase the book now from In Spirit at uuabookstore.org. We will be engaging with this book at several discussion groups this month, each with a different program. A Saturday afternoon session on May 15 at 2 p.m., and three consecutive Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. on May 12, 19, and 26. This will conclude our Wednesday evening worship services for this church year.
I have purposefully not revealed the essence of the book. That is for you to discover, and I hope you will join us as we delve into the many layers and themes over the course of this month. I rarely give you orders but here it is: Buy this book, read it, and help us all understand.
Perry writes, “The point of religion, as I take it, as I find it meaningful, is that it gives us powerful metaphors for confronting our experience of the divine. But that’s not all it is. It is also community. My ambivalence towards communities is perhaps my greatest flaw. But I don’t want to be that way. I don’t want you to be that way. Because we need each other, deeply.”
To which my story ends: Amen!