As a child, the future career I longed for most was to become a priest. Every Sunday morning before the rest of my family woke up, I would put on my Dad’s bathrobe and my Mom’s scarf, set out two candles (which I couldn’t light because I was too young to light a match), and pretend I was the preacher giving a mass.
I spoke sermons, baptized my baby dolls and cut tiny circles of bread to serve as the Eucharist. As I would play I could feel a calling of service and spirituality unfold inside me like a fragrant Easter lily.
In the faith I grew up in however, women were not permitted to be priests. That dream died on the vine until a recent weekend when I was asked to create a service for the Unitarian Universalist church, of which my Mom is a member.
This particular congregation has a part-time minister, which means that half the time the minister creates the service, and on the off weeks someone from the congregation itself does the job. When the worship organizer learned of my work and asked me to create a service, I may have knocked her over with the volume of my resounding “YES!”
Not only was this a chance to live my childhood dream, it was an opportunity to give back to a community that has given so much love, friendship and kindness to my mom and myself.
The U.U. principles are inclusive of all roads to faith. The theme I chose for the service was “Letting Spirit Speak Through The Senses.” We sang the songs Morning Has Broken and Wake Now My Senses, and read the touching, simple poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer.
For my homily, I shared straight from my heart about my personal journey of disowning and then reclaiming my body as an instrument through which I communicate with Spirit. I shared stories about using my senses to pray, like this one about the day my Dad passed away. We did a meditation that honored the body as a temple, and an exercise to open our eyes to the beauty all around us.
I recorded my talk to share with you here. Just click the image to have a listen. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! (Note: The audio quality did not come out as superb as I planned so I invite you to use it as an opportunity to listen more deeply.)
To close the service we sang “Annie’s Song” by John Denver, (a.k.a. “You Fill Up My Senses”.) Mom was standing next to me, and as I put my arm around her shoulders and she put her arm around my waist, we both started to cry. That song was a lullaby she used to sing to me as a baby. As the whole congregation sang together, I swelled with gratitude at how lyrics to this song were imprinted into my cells as a child, and helped to shape my destiny.
Here’s to childhood dreams coming true in unexpected ways, and dreams we may not even know we have, like performing ministry in a miniskirt.
All My Love,