Measured Extravagance

12 March 2004 - 12:52 p.m.

The week in review:

2 1/2 bottles of Dayquil/Nyquil so far.
One set of galleys proofread. (I love my CMS.)
Received an unexpected, thrilling compliment: "What they remember about you at [a small church where I preached last year] is that you got them to sing."
Five ten-cent library fines. (Oops.)
A new contract. (More articles to write!)
65 F in Nashville. (Yeah!)
A surprise box of Trader Joe's chocolate raspberry "sticks" on my doorstep. (Recommended by M'ris, supplied by Strad.) (The BYM: "More like fingers than sticks." Me: "It's chocolate raspberry digits!")
Sixteen poems submitted, one rejected (ten the week before), one accepted.
A "testimonial" drafted for the upcoming canvass campaign. The request:

'Would you be willing to help us out with a short written "testimonial" as to why this church is important to you, what activities mean the most to you, and why you make a recorded pledge each year?'

Here's what I came up with:

I keep an online diary, which provides an easy outlet for my exhibitionist tendencies -- but also makes it disconcertingly easy for my friends to parody me. In one such send-up, my friend Merrie zoomed in on my tendency to post entries that start out, I didnt feel like going to church this morning, but Im glad I went, usually followed by a story about how something or someone in the service amused or moved me. Guilty as charged: my favorite spot in the entire world on any Sunday morning is my own bed. Hauling myself out of it in time for vocal warm-ups is an endeavor that generally requires at least one alarm clock, two cups of tea, and copious amounts of decidedly unholy swearing.

But I do go through with it, because I would otherwise miss singing both nifty new hymns and magnificent old melodies. Other days I show up simply because Ive promised to help out in the office or at the grocery table. Some mornings, I show up with anticipation, hoping that the speaker will stimulate and expand my thinking. Other mornings, the revelation and delight stem from being able to enjoy Susans [our pianist] sparkling virtuosity or an eloquent poem or the beauty of a flower arrangement.

For me, at its best, Unitarian Universalism is a profound celebration of the possible. Because I belong to this church, every Sunday morning brims with the possibility of coming across something new, or a new angle of something familiar. Moreover, being a Unitarian Universalist magnifies my ability to bear witness to what is good and beautiful and possible in this world: to give but one example, whenever I encounter homophobic hysteria in the form of We dont want openly gay people teaching our kids in Sunday school, it gives me deep satisfaction to observe that our DRE [Director of Religious Education] exchanged vows with his husband in this church two years ago, and that our youth coordinator will be marrying her girlfriend later this spring and that theyre both awesome at what they do. Sharing my time and resources with other religious liberals allows me to testify that there is indeed a caravan that is not of despair that there is still faith that justice will prevail when enough people stand on the side of love and compassion, whether the cause be gay marriage or living wages or preservation of our natural resources. I contribute to First UU because my money helps sustain that faith it helps pay for the first-rate musicians and top-notch speakers, it supports our membership in the NAACP and other organizations speaking out for equal rights for all, and it underwrites the events worship, fellowship, milestones, conferences that bring together people who love this world too much to circumscribe it with narrow definitions.

One year ago, it appears I was chugging Robitussin, collecting rejections and acceptances, and busy-demented-happy. Plus a change. . .

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