May 11, 2021
The Divinity School at Duke University publishes a wonderful and widely read newsletter called ALBAN. I have found its articles to be often “spot on” for key issues that face modern spiritual communities.
Recently, the editor of ALBAN noted that when the pandemic started over a year ago, many people asked: “When will things get back to normal?” As the impacts of COVID-19 dragged on and on, many people started asking a different question: “Will things go back to normal?”
As month after month passed in lockdown and/or closed churches, synagogues, mosques, etc., the ALBAN editor noticed the question changed to: “What if things don’t go back to the way they were?” Now the editor says she hears more members of congregations ask: “What could the new future look like?”
Some of us at Unity of Roanoke Valley view these challenging times not only as an opportunity to reopen the buildings and go back to the way it was before the pandemic but as a golden opportunity to relaunch URV in new and exciting directions! There were so many great things about URV before COVID-19, but the potential is there for us to grow and expand to … to where? Well, I love a term coined by our talented URV Vice President, Pat Eby. That term is ReUnity!
What is ReUnity? That is for our entire spiritual community to determine. That is why the Board got the ball rolling with a survey for URV members and friends to discover peoples’ dreams, visions, and concerns. Where and how would people like to see URV go? What is working and what is not working? What would help you in your spiritual walk?
If I could add my two cents: For me, ReUnity would look more like the so-called “community-based” model where many ideas – and resources to make dreams a reality – would “bubble up” from URV’s members and friends. URV would be a great “attractor” to the spiritual but not religious. Not only would we be an incredible spiritual community, but our 27 acres would be a wonderful center for retreats, education, and many different types of events. But this is just how I have envisioned ReUnity. Quite frankly, I am more interested in how you see ReUnity. Know that we can do it and be co-creators with Spirit!
At the start of URV Board meetings, a very touching thing is done. One of the members of the Board leads us on a “spiritual adventure.” Often a Board member will share a spiritual practice that means a lot to them. At a recent Board meeting, Pat Eby led the “spiritual adventure.” We started off with a simple prayer, and then she read from a recent column in the Roanoke Times, by Leonard Pitts.
Mr. Pitts notes that church membership has been declining for quite some time. “For the first time since Gallup began tracking religious membership back in 1937, it dropped below half. Back then, 73 percent of us belonged to some house of worship. Today, just 48 percent do,” he writes. But the interesting thing is, this is not because of a tsunami of atheism. On the contrary, “as many as 87 percent of us still profess belief in God,” Mr. Pitts comments.
How should we deal with the above trends and facts? Pat made a very good suggestion during this “spiritual adventure.” She suggested that we turn to Unity‘s five basic principles. In this time of prayer, Pat said that we should “open ourselves up” and “invite an infilling of hope, optimism, and welcome into our being, an INFUSION of creative service. We welcome original thoughts, abundant energy, and hearts of collaboration.”
Pat suggested that we remember Unity’s first basic principle and that there really is one presence and one power in the universe, “God the good, omnipotent.” When we do this, we can embrace a “CAN DO” power.
She suggested – following Unity’s second principle – that as we go through a time of ReUnity, we remember that the Divine Spark is inside all of us. We are already one with the One.
Pat noted that a key building block could be Unity‘s third basic principle: our thoughts really matter! “We are co-creators with God. We create our own reality through our thoughts and beliefs … We develop ways to hear and accept others’ contributions with respect while retaining the ability to accept and ponder, and not feel coerced to agree,” she added.
The fourth basic principle helps us to “align our heart-mind with God through prayer and meditation,” she said. When we are aligned with Divine Mind, we can be instruments of God’s peace.
As we develop and build a vision of ReUnity, it will be important to utilize Unity’s fifth basic principle: We live the spiritual truths that we know, and we walk the walk – not just talk the talk. Pat added that “as we practice, we are changed.”
I wish you could have been there as Pat led this “spiritual adventure.” I came away from it feeling really pumped up and ready to ReUnity with all of you!
What comes to mind right now is something from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. It is Carroll’s “Lobster Quadrille.” Alice is on the beach and the sea creatures sing to her:
Will you, won’t you, will you,
Won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you,
Won’t you, won’t you join the dance?
I hope you will join the ReUnity dance. It can be better than even before!