I grew up not identifying with any religion, but also feeling like “atheist” wasn’t the right word for me. I believed in people and nature, the power of the earth and the beauty of poetry; I just wasn’t sure if any of that could be summed up in one religious ideology.
In college, I started going to Unitarian Universalist services and found the perfect balance between spiritual community and my curiosity. I didn’t have to identify with any one tradition, but I could take bits and pieces from different faiths. It also helped that the community held as deep a love for dancing, nature, poetry, and clogs as I did!
1. You really love chalices.
Look how beautiful that thing is! It doesn’t even matter if the chalice lighting reading is good, the flickers of the chalice flame are just so mesmerizing.
Can it be time for the sharing of joys and sorrows all ready? You just want to light more candles.
2. Faith means love and love means everybody
Everyone feeling welcome at service is a BIG DEAL to you. Religion, sexuality, gender, race, class–none of it matters. Standing on the side of love means making everyone feel comfortable in their congregation.
You know the drill: Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.
3. You kind of identify with every religion, and none of them…is that possible?
Last December you jumped between two different Channukah parties, a Winter Solstice gathering, and a Christmas service. You’ve heard just as many Hindu poems as you have Jewish prayers and Christian psalms.
You’re pretty in love with the living tradition. As they say: deeds before creeds, deeds before creeds.
4. Social justice is very important to you.
If your congregation doesn’t have one of these signs, you’re sure going to make sure it does after seeing this.
5. You find yourself adding double U’s to any and all words.
CommUUnity. I love UU. SqUUad goals. UUmbrella. UUkulele.
If you can add a “U” to it and if you say it around your UU friends then it’s fair game.
6. You read things like this for fun.
It was actually a really interesting read! You probably saw it in the Blue Boat newsletter last winter.
Religion + conversations about privilege = perfect read.
7. Caffeine is very important to you, but so’s social justice.
If there’s no fair trade coffee at Coffee Hour, then the world might just end.
Luckily, there’s always loose leaf tea as an alternative.
8. You own too many books.
Every minister or youth leader or family friend has given you a copy of the UU Pocket Manual. You hope someday it will help you to explain Unitarian Universalism in just a couple sentences, but really who are we kidding?
Your bookshelves are overflowing with other books, too: religious or otherwise.
9. If you live in New England, you’ve been to Walden Pond more times than you can count.
You’ve walked around Walden Pond. You’ve sung by Thoreau’s cabin. You’ve probably had a long conversation about transcendentalism or environmentalism while you were at it. And if there was time left after, you stopped by Louisa May Alcott’s house!
10. Sometimes people think you’re a hippie, but you’re really not.
You’re not sure if this video is from Woodstock or last year’s summer camp, but you promise there’s a difference!
11. You really care about your faith, even if it doesn’t always sound like a religion.
You’re not always sure if you believe in a heaven or afterlife or any of that, but you’re definitely sure that everyone deserves to feel loved.
12. You’ve tried to explain what you believe to friends and it’s not always easy.
Well, you don’t have to believe in God…but you can believe in God! We draw on religious teachings from Jews, Native Americans, Muslims…no we’re not all from those traditions…but some of us are! Supporting others is very important to us…but we don’t try to convert people!
It’s a tough job, maybe that explains those eight pocket manuals you’ve been storing under your bed.
13. You’ll put the “Universalist” in Unitarian Universalist if it’s the last thing you do.
No one goes to hell, no religion is better or worse than another. Some people might say you’re wishy-washy, you just like to say it gives you more opportunities to learn from others.
14. Instead of greeting groups as “everyone” or “you all,” you’ve starting saying “friends.”
“Friends, let us gather together today and forever remember that WE WERE ON A BREAK.”
15. Contradancing is kind of your thing.
You might look like your 72 instead of 27, but you couldn’t care less. Did you hear there’s going to be a live band at the contra next week?
16. You know exactly which tattoo you want to get.
It’s going to have a chalice, and probably your favorite poem or song lyrics too.
17. And you compare clogs at service.
Your style is slowly evolving into “mom-chic.”
18. And then it’s off to the farmer’s market!
You really want to bring your homemade roasted vegetables to the potluck next week, but you have got to find some heirloom tomatoes if you want to get it right.
19. Rainbows are kind of your favorite.
They’re beautiful and a great way for remembering the seven principles!
20. You practice your spirituality in lots of different ways.
Remember that time in Youth Group when you baked sugar cookies for each other and then wrote letters to God/the Spirit/the lightbulb/etc? Or that time you played dreidel while sipping fresh chai? Yeah, so do we.
21. You’re just really grateful to be part of a diverse community.
Somedays you’re not sure which one to check, but you know that’s okay because you’ll always be welcome in your commUUnity.