Monday, March 16, 2009

Ya Gotta Love Facebook

Any doubts I might have had about Facebook are gone. Today I received an email and friend request from a person I had lost track of and who utterly changed my life more than 20 years ago.

In 1985, I was taking doctoral classes in Business, mainly as a credential for advancement in the university administration. Things went well for a couple of terms. But, during the summer of 1986, I was fed up with the way doctoral students were treated. A fellow student named Joyce sensed my frustration and talked me into going out for a drink.

As I ranted about everything from classes to the state of the world, she told me that I sounded like a brochure she had just picked up at a church the past Sunday. The brochure was an introduction to Unitarian Universalism, of which I knew nothing at the time.

Within weeks, I belonged to a fellowship. I only lasted one more term in the doctoral program and lost track of Joyce until today. And here I am, getting close to the end of my preparation to become a Unitarian Universalist minister.

Would I have found this religious tradition anyway? Who knows? I had not found it after 30 years of life and 20 years of searching for a religion that made sense. But for that chance conversation, and for Joyce's compassion and caring, I might never have started down the path toward my call to ministry.

Is it any wonder that I believe in synchronicity? We just never know what impact even the smallest effort of reaching out to another person can have on their lives. Joyce, thank you so much for reaching out to me and starting these wheels in motion.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Value of Good Times

One of the reasons I began blogging was to express opinions about "big picture" issues and to discuss matters of ultimate importance. Usually, my posts border on the serious (perhaps ranting), because something has riled me up or otherwise made my hair stand on end.

Not today, folks. Today, the house special pizza with everything on it is free to all. Pull up a chair for yourself and your own muse and enjoy a slice on the house.

Oh, don't get me wrong...the world is still a mess. The economy is in the crapper, basic human rights remain in jeopardy across the globe, and our vision of beloved community seems a distant dream. Tomorrow, I may well go nuclear and blast some new injustice.

But, today, I am happy. And, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I highly recommend it to everyone.

Why am I so happy that I risk my daily pizzatorium profits sharing my joy with you? There are many reasons, but the biggest of them is that after years of worthwhile work raising a family and helping others, I am pursuing my dream. I am preparing for a life in ministry - a life of hard work and commitment, a life that is enormously rewarding, and a life that my experiences have forged for me. I am living in a tiny apartment watching my life savings dwindle away, and I couldn't care less because I am doing what I love to do.

I've got my computer, Coltrane on the stereo, fresh-brewed coffee, and you, gentle reader. I'm working at a church that is amazing, but still can use my talents. I am meeting interesting people, exploring the greatest city on Earth, and entering a living historical tradition of courageous men and women who changed the world. And, for the first time in a long time, I've got the ability to appreciate it all and know just how lucky I am to have the chance to do the same.

That, of course, is the issue. Every day, people tell us how to live our lives. Companies spend millions to tell us what to buy, what new disease lurks in our future, and how to eat, smell, and look. Bosses tell us how to act and think. Society tells us what is right and wrong. And all of them pretend to tell you how to be happy.

Do you know how to be happy? This is how. Sit down and figure out for yourself what you want to do with your life. Then go do it. It really is that simple. Write down your goal on a piece of paper and post it on your refrigerator. Then make everything in your life serve that goal.

Is it easy? Of course not. Nothing worth having ever is. But, no one in the world can do it for you. And here is the secret. If you are putting off your goal because you are trying to help someone else achieve their goal, it doesn't work. Because, in the end, you can't fully help others until you have helped yourself. Until you have pursued your own goal, you are not in the right frame of mind to help another achieve theirs.

Is entry into the ministry a sacrifice? You bet - just ask any seminarian. The discernment process of becoming a minister is painful and frightening, and successful completion of the process causes wounds and loss. But, only by surviving this process, by thriving in this process and achieving this goal, can we as ministers help others to do the same.

So enjoy your pizza. Because when you leave the pizzatorium, I want you to think about your goal in life, whether you are on a path to achieve it, and if not, why not.