Jacqueline at Moxie Life is asking what comfort people find in the UU faith during crisis. I get that. She says:
The question is how does being UU help? What comfort is there in our religious faith. The quick answer, for me, is none. It actually leads to more questions then answers. I don’t feel comforted by my religious affiliation. There are no answers to my big questions. There is no practical advice or faith to fall back on.
I completely get what she is saying—I think; I do not derive any particular comfort from identifying myself as a Unitarian Universalist. We don’t really have a prayer we can say to ourselves in times of stress and crisis like other religions offer, do we? For me, who lived unchurched most of my life, what being a part of this religious movement has given me is a framework for comfort. I am comforted by the ritual of worship (which is why I become discomforted when it goes astray); comforted by song (participating in singing or watching the choir; I am often put off by sitting and listening to music being played from a CD, not sure why, but I drift and get pissy); comforted just by a well-crafted service, regardless of the topic.
I guess I’m one of those weird people who just like a good UU worship service: one that invites me into reflecting about issues large by inviting me into issues small and then expanding. There’s a rhythm to a really good service that provides that comfort I am seeking. A cadence, I suppose, that weaves words with song, thought with emotion, the personal with the universal.
This, I understand, can be done through any religion. Why I like a well-crafted UU sermon (even if I am only reading it) and why I find it comforting is that it does not tell me what I ought to do, what I ought to be, who (or what) I ought to be seeking comfort from. It provides the framework for me to fill in the gaps for my own self. It reminds me I am a part of a greater whole and reminds me that my suffering is not the only suffering in the world and that I can ease my suffering by connecting and consoling others. It reminds me to be a part of life, especially when I feel like retreating. And, it does remind me I am not alone. Who is with me may not be God, or Jesus, or the ghost of a loved one, but the love of that one—that love that does not die when the body does.
Is it the UU faith that does this for me? Yes, and no. And I realize that crises are not just about death, though that’s where I am right now. When the message of love is preached, I feel comforted. When the message of understanding is preached, I feel comforted. When the message of meeting yourself in your own human form and loving yourself anyway is preached, then I feel comforted, too. And I’m not sure I could get all this in the package I seek at a church of any other denomination.