I heard an interesting footnote to the timeline of our recent “flood”:
The Story of Four Coffee Cups
Over the holiday, a teacher had taken four coffee cups home from the STEM School. She wanted to give them a good scrubbing because we all know how coffee cups need a periodic scrubbing. The cups were sitting on the drainer next to the sink and had dried.
As holiday preparation always happens, this teacher discovered that she needed to make a quick trip to her HEB to pick up a few last-minute items. It was Friday evening before Christmas Eve and it shouldn’t take long. Oh and she drives right by Live Oak church and she could return the coffee cups and get them off the kitchen counter.
What a break for Live Oak! She drove into the church parking lot to see water running from a second-floor classroom window. Ice was forming on the exterior wall. She immediately called the emergency number on the bulletin board outside the office door. Mike Schultz answered and over the phone instructed her how to turn the water off at the main shutoff valve. (If you didn’t know it is located in the ground near the mailbox.)
Yes, there was serious damage done to the building because of the broken water line in the school attic. But if that water had continued to flow there would have been far more destruction done to our Live Oak building.
Unitarian Universalism has historically been a religion that champions reason, and avoids superstitious answers for why things happen. All well and good, and especially in these times where facts and science seem to not matter to conspiracist thinkers, something I know we want to hold onto.
But for myself, I believe that leaving a tiny bit of room for awe at fortuitous coincidences enables me to live with more of a default of gratitude rather than cynicism. And allowing there to be a spectrum of beliefs in our community about why good things happen means that our church can be more of the “big tent” we strive to be.
Magical thinking? Maybe so. But it also fits with the humanism that has shaped our faith, and the pragmatic assertion that if God (or love, as a force) is real, then we are its hands and feet.
UU 20th century theologian James Luther Adams outlined 5 elements of our faith. Two have come to mind this week:
- “We deny the immaculate conception of virtue and affirm the necessity of social incarnation.” (It takes our human action to make good things happen.)
- “Liberalism holds that the resources (divine and human) that are available for the achievement of meaningful change justify an attitude of ultimate optimism.” (We are justified in being hopeful.)
I guess that’s why I like the word “blessing.” I don’t feel required to name a source for the blessings that come our way. I can simply embrace the gratitude and look for ways in which to bless others.