Steven serves UU Santa Fe as Consulting Lifespan Learning Director
We are spiritual beings by birthright. We are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings encountering a human experience. What we do here is Human Being Training.―Steven Mead, Religious Educator
Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the great Jewish Reconstructionist theologian, mused that "Religion asks three things of us: to believe, to behave, and to belong." Covenantal as we UUs are, we put a lot of freight into behaving and belonging. But being theologically ornery, not so much in believing—now, don’t misunderstand, we think believing is important, but not one way or another usually. So I would like to suggest that we Unitarians are asked to Behave, Belong, and to Be something. Being. Now to Be something, that takes training—Human Being Training. That’s what we do here—in our sanctuary, in our classrooms, in our meeting rooms, and in our community engagement. And for Unitarians, there is scarcely a more urgent obligation than teaching our children and youth. Of their Becoming.
Now, Human Being Training is a long process and if you think yours is over, I remind you of Paublo Cassals, one of the world’s greatest cellists. Throughout his entire life he maintained a disciplined regimen of practicing for five or six hours every day. On the day he died, at the age of 96, he had already put in several hours practicing his scales. A few years earlier, when he was 93, a friend asked him why, after all he had achieved, he was still practicing as hard as ever. “Because,” Casals replied, “I think I’m making progress.”
I think I am making progress. If this isn’t an expression of Becoming, I don’t know what is. Young or old, we are all Becoming—so that we are comfortable in our own skins—with our identity—that we live a life of grace and graciousness in our community, and that we understand that we a part of something greater than ourselves. There’s your Unitarian bonafides for you: right relationship with self—our unique self—with others—our communal self—and with the sacred—our universal self.
What’s your story of Becoming?