Last week fifteen of us sat in a circle downstairs in the new chapel. It was my first opportunity to put that new space to one of its uses-adult education.
After the usual brief personal introductions I asked that we go around again but this time introduce ourselves as a Biblical character. I’d never started a Bible Story Class that way, but what followed was fascinating as well as provocative.
We didn’t have God, Job or Jonah–three tough assignments for Unitarian types.
We did have Judas, which is a tough job but tempting for a Unitarian to take… Judas complained, “Look, if it wasn’t for me the whole thing never would have happened! We would have had a nice Passover meal and gone home and that would have been the end of it. But I had an assignment. It had nothing to do with the money. I didn’t care about the thirty pieces of silver. I did what I had to do.”
Jesus was annoyed. He said he had been misunderstood, misquoted, and misused.
It didn’t take long for each of us to identify with the fifteen characters as we looked at the old stories through their eyes. When he did the Genesis series Bill Moyers quipped, “The Bible is a book which either reads us or is worthless.”
The stories and characters provide an orientation for us, a way of locating ourselves in this vast, incomprehensible universe. Without a sense of orientation in one’s life, there’s no sense of direction–and we need a sense of direction. Where have you been, so far? Where are you going, next?
Orientation–acknowledging and accepting who you are–results in a sense of direction. The Bible-story characters help us to stop awhile, step out of the day-to-day world, climb the proverbial mountain, and look down to see ourselves as we truly are. Then we can reconsider everything we’ve thought, believed and experienced so far. Lo and behold, suddenly we’re reoriented–we see who we are by seeing where we’ve been.
We put the pieces of life’s puzzle together again and again, hold it, look at it, and feel whole. Without that integrated outlook, we feel broken, wounded, disintegrated. When we put the scattered pieces together, ‘warts and all’ as Lincoln told the artist doing his portrait, we feel the key thing: integrity.
As I’ve struggled to find the right words for this letter the world is being blanketed in snow, again. I keep looking out my window at the remarkable beauty, then turn back to the keyboard, looking for words. The beauty of Nature distracts me, but it says so clearly what my words can’t: there is beauty and there is love. Life is good. “O taste and see.”