I once wrote a Co-Mingling Chant that expresses much of my theology poetically. Here are the lyrics:
Harmonic backdrop parts: [repeating]
A: The fishes in the seas and birds in the trees
Mother Earth and you and me
B: Birthing – breathing – living – dying
C: Outward… inward… outward… inward...
D: [rain stick]
1- Growing cosmos, circling planets,
mingling all around.
2 - Growing life forms, circling eagle,
mingling from sky to ground.
3 - Growing geodes, circling atoms,
mingling all the way down.
4 - Growing insight, circling wholeness,
mingling where love is found.
5 - Birthing, breathing, living, dying,
to all we are bound.
To all we are bound.
Any curious musician or music-lover may review the sheet music.
Written as my final project for a seminary Arts & Aesthetics course, this chant was inspired by lots of great chanting in a paganism class with Margot Adler; by process theology (dynamic, interrelated, all-natural reality); by love of nature and the grief and urgency that come from awareness of our present path of destruction; and by mystic perception, as captured in these words of William James:
“Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest, which co-mingle their roots in the darkness underground. Just so, there is a continuum of cosmic consciousness, against which our individuality builds but accidental fences, and into which our several minds plunge as into a mother sea or reservoir.”
You & Me & Theology
I am delighted to belong to a tradition for which theological diversity has been a hallmark for almost 200 years. My personal faith is shaped by forces similar to those that shaped Unitarian Universalism: direct experiences of wonder, awe, and connection, often in nature; the best of the Judeo-Christian heritage, including the call to prophetic action and to build the Beloved Community; the ever-unfolding revelations of science about our amazing universe; the rich insights and beauty found in the arts; and deep encounters with Eastern sources of wisdom.
I accept the labels eclectic, seeker, mystic, poet, panentheist, religious naturalist, lover of life. I have had moments of spiritual bliss and moments of existential despair. In my personal spiritual life I use many names for the holy, feeling that collectively all these words and images may come closer to capturing our vast reality than any single name could. Yet ultimately I am left with an intimate Mystery. In worship I tend to favor poetic imagery and be more sparing in the use of God-language, which connects for some people but disconnects others. The cornerstone of mysticism – the recognition that the spark of the divine is within everyone – is at the heart of my theology.
As a UU minister I support people as they develop and live out their own theology. Since I left the Protestant church of my childhood for our faith of "deeds not creeds," I understand that well-worn path to Unitarian Universalism. I also recognize that people come to us from many other heritages – Catholic, Jewish, pagan, humanist, Hindu, Muslim, Mormon, secular, and born-and-raised UU. I invite people into a spirit of curiosity, respect and mutual enrichment as we engage in meaning-making with a variety of viewpoints. Our diversity is itself a resource for our collective growth.
For more, click here to read the essay I wrote for the Ministerial Fellowship Committee about the theological context of my call to the ministry.