Message from Rev. Lynda Smith

Dear UUFA Friends,

“We don’t have to think alike to love alike.” so said Universalist, Rev. Hosea Ballou. UU’s believe that diversity, at all levels of human culture and of nature is part of life. And we revere science. But as Max Planck, the famous physicist put it: “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And it is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of the mystery we are trying to solve.” At the core of Unitarian Universalist theology is permission to ask questions and to follow the path that opens. We do not put our faith in creed or doctrine, rather we put our faith in the ultimate confidence that we have the capacity the follow that path created out of questioning. It is utterly amazing that we are able to ask questions, for to question puts us on a quest. Questioning both reveals our limitations and our urge to go beyond them. The most common type of questioning is that which solves the problems that occur in daily life. We are curious about what baffles us. We apply whatever practical skills we have, as well as our powers of reason and memory and the knowledge of experts. This questioning leads us along a calculated path. We see the possibilities, choose the most probable, and use trial and error or simple deduction until our problem is solved. This calculative approach is the scientific and technological way that predominate our lives. But there is another way of questioning and thinking. Heidegger neatly summed this up in an address he gave in 1955: “Calculative thinking computes. It computes ever new, ever more promising and at the same time, more economical possibilities. Calculative thinking races from one prospect to the next. Calculative thinking is not meditative thinking, not thinking which contemplates the meaning …in everything there is.” (The Faith to Doubt, Stephen Batchelor) Sometimes people regard a meditative attitude as mystical, philosophical, or out of touch with “real” concerns. But the calculative approach can be manipulative and controlling as it dissects life into fragmented parts. While the ability to calculate accurately is a boon in some aspects of life, it can distort and delude when its importance is exaggerated. If our view of the future and our ethical decisions are determined by calculation alone, we lose hold of a calmer, more contemplative relationship to life. Calculation solves identified problems but is helpless in penetrating the mysteries of life that are more difficult to define.

The mysterious lies at the very heart of our lives; those unanswerable questions go to the very profound core of life and death. A mystery can never be solved, but it can only be penetrated or appreciated. The more intimate one is with a mystery, the greater the secret is revealed. The intensification of a mystery leads not to frustration but to a release. This is the paradox of how the meditative process calms and grounds us. Meditation is not really a specialized activity. We all have the capacity within us. We only need to be aware that we all have this within, care for it and nurture it. Meditation is a growing awareness of what our existence is saying to us and asking of us. Do you have a process or an activity that calms you and grounds you? Be well and take good care of yourself.

Rev. Lynda Smith