Every moment that we have lived has led to the one we are presently living, and every moment we live from this point on will lead to another. “The Long and Winding Road ” was The Beatles’ twentieth and final number one single in the United States. Paul McCartney wrote this song as a reflection of the tensions that had risen among The Beatles, and as a way of saying that hardship is inevitable. This message was prophetic, as John left The Beatles within the year, and The Beatles dissolved.
Some choose to meet hardship with faith, which can be an uplifting source of comfort in times of trouble. Faith can also serve as a source of hope, joy, confidence, and purpose. Mushin Abby Terris, spiritual director of the Corvallis Zen Circle and today’s guest speaker, described faith not just as a belief, an emotion, or a fixed and unchanging thing, but a verb. It is something we live. We must enact faith and love in a world filled with injustice and ignorance, and we do so by demonstrating kindness, working for justice, and fighting for equality and the wellness of all people, even when it is daunting. “The Impossible Dream “, from 1960’s musical Man of La Mancha, speaks of all these missions. Taunted, laughed at, and never taken seriously, Don Quixote chooses to live a life dedicated to serving others and fighting evil. While many of his monsters are imaginary, his intentions are honorable, and while his truth is different than that of others, he lives simply and honestly, and gives of himself freely, very much as discussed in today’s sermon.
“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends…If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” Thus is the beginning of the romantic comedy “Love Actually”, a film stuffed with overlapping plots, humor, sadness, and all manner of love: romantic, platonic, faded, unrequited, young crushes, mature relationships, and familial fondness. Love is such a crucial part of the Unitarian Universalist message, and aligns with some of the Zen Buddhist principles we learned of today. How wonderful that faiths across the spectrum hold the guiding force of love as a common and fundamental truth!
In addition to love, there are many Zen Buddhist principles that parallel UU viewpoints. Faith and commitment are expressed in actions, and actions are guided by awareness. It is important to be aware of the present moment, and the potential it holds. Equally important is the awareness of the web of interdependence that we all coexist within: what we do affects others. If we can commit to the awakening of our full humanity, be mature in our conduct, and strive for simple and content lives, we can discover true meaning and our true raison d’être. Today’s service ended with “Purpose”, from the R-rate puppet musical “Avenue Q”. Recent college graduate Princeton longs to discover his own purpose, so that he can live doing what he is meant to. Fortunately for us, we already have an idea of what our own purpose is, as long as we remember to live our faith.