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Soul Matters @ OUUC

May 2017                                                                                             

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May's Theme: Integrity



integrity quote try again


Sara's Reflections

Sara Lewis1

in·teg·ri·ty

noun

1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

2. the state of being whole and undivided.


Our theme for this month is Integrity, which I find peculiarly appropriate for the moment we are in. Integrity is needed in our national and local politics, in our divided and divisive culture, in the UUA and the denomination as it faces a new discussion about racism and systems of white supremacy, and in our local congregation as we face an unexpected ministerial transition.


If I were picking a story to tell for the theme of Integrity, I would tell The Empty Pot. In this story, there is an Emperor without an heir, who sets a challenge to all the children of the empire: grow the best plant from the seed that will be provided. But there is a twist - the seeds have been sterilized so they will not grow! Young Ping gets his seed and plants it, cares for it ... nothing. He repots it, tries again ... nothing. He sees all the other children displaying amazing plants, but still he has nothing to show. On the big day, he is the only one there with an empty pot ... and so he is the only one with the true integrity to become Emperor some day.


This story is about being honest, certainly. It is about having the strength to be different from the crowd, and about doing what is right rather than what is easy. But it is more than that ... it's a story about facing our own failings and inadequacies.


We can all strive to "grow the best plant", or make the best decisions, or be the best person, but as humans we may still find ourselves holding an empty pot. Who knows ... there are so many things we may have done wrong, or it could just be bad luck or bad timing, but still there it is. To be a person of integrity is to be willing to show the places we met failure and disappointment as well as the places where we excelled with Pinterest worthy results.


In our nation and our politics, I see people engaged in greater numbers and with greater enthusiasm. But I also see that with engagement comes disappointment and it will take integrity (1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness) to maintain our commitment.


In the UUA, the conversation about racism has not created new problems ... it has revealed the problems that were simmering under the surface. We've had a Band-Aid ripped off, and there is hope for greater integrity in the future. At the same time, there is real pain and I believe we can't swerve to hope and a happy ending too fast ... integrity demands a true reckoning with our own failings.


In our congregation, good intentions and good people were still not enough to stave off disappointment. We face a time of uncertainty again, and the frustration of feeling like we can't move forward but are stuck. It's very frustrating, and it will take integrity to move through.


Coming together in these times will require integrity (2. the state of being whole and undivided). To face the challenges of this moment, we need to face our own failings (to hold our empty pot), but also to have the courage to enter into conversation with other flawed human beings and recognize their strengths and weaknesses as well.


How does the story end? Ping went on to become a wise Emperor, and to rule well. He carried on the tradition of looking to the wisdom and integrity of people, particularly the young, and he wrestled with his own big questions. With integrity, the Empire remained strong and happy.


May we move forward with Integrity as well. May we wrestle with our Big Questions. May we hold our Empty Pots. May we be whole and well.



Sara Lewis, Credentialed Religious Educator

Director of Lifespan Religious Education, OUUC


Reflection Questions:
1. One of our quotes reads "there are times in this harum-scarum world when figuring out the right thing to do is quite simple, but doing the right thing is simply impossible". Are you facing such a situation? As you struggle, are you being kind to yourself?

2. Parker Palmer writes: "I now know myself to be a person of weakness and strength, liability and giftedness, darkness and light. I now know that to be whole means to reject none of it but to embrace all of it". What one thing could you embrace right now to feel more whole?

1.    


Spiritual Exercise



Your Greatest Act of Integrity

 

All of us have it: that time in our life on the strength of our character stood out and we acted out of our deepest sense of what was morally right or most true to our core. Revisit and re-celebrate that moment by sharing it with your group. Spend some time this month reflecting on how that moment of high resolve not only brought you pride but challenge you to live up to it again and again.





Other Media That Might Inspire:

Podcasts and Videos

 

The Calm Within

http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=2568 



Articles

Seeing Ourselves in the Hunger Games, by Cynthia Landrum

Against Innocence, by Rosemary Bray McNatt




For Young Souls:

the empty pot

Books:

The Empty Pot by Demi

 

The Day the Crayons Quit

by Drew Daywalt

 

Ruthie and the (not so) Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin

 

The Berenstein Bears and the Truth

by Stan and Jan Berenstein

 

Dear Mr. Rosenwald

by Carole Weatherford

 

The Story of the Jumping Mouse

by John Steptoe

 

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth

 

Movies:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Brave

Mary Poppins

Frozen

The Miracle Worker


To receive other recommendations, words of wisdom, reflection questions, and more all through the month as we engage with this theme, join the OUUC Soul Matters Facebook Group!
In This Issue
  • Sara's Reflections
  • Reflection Questions
  • Spiritual Exercise
  • Recommended Media
  • For Young Souls
  • Words of Wisdom
ouuc chalice




"I now know myself to be a person of weakness and strength, liability and giftedness, darkness and light.  I now know that to be whole means to reject none of it but to embrace all of it."

- Parker Palmer





“Everyone makes mistakes, so being a person of integrity does not mean you haven’t committed a moral or ethical violation, ever. It means having the strength of character to learn from those ‘misbehaviors’ and seek continual self-improvement.”

- Eric Kail




“But there are times in this harum-scarum world when figuring out the right thing to do is quite simple, but doing the right thing is simply impossible....”


Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid


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Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation
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Olympia, Washington 98502
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