Today, while I was living it, seemed like a rather ordinary day, and yet some strange things happened. Early on at our UU Sunday service, where the theme this month is “being creative,” some strange spontaneous things happened. In this setting being creative means being creative in the moment. Not just talking about the subject as would be done in so many other venues with other ministers, but actually doing rather risky stuff for the leader of a group of almost two hundred individuals. Reverend Scott began the service, in which our chairs had been arranged in concentric circles, by asking someone, anyone, to light the chalice. It’s a simple task of putting a flame to a little pot of flammable fluid. That symbolic gesture has usually been assigned to someone beforehand and is totally routine, but this time it required someone from the group standing up and going over and doing it. Ask yourself if you could get up in front of two hundred people unbidden personally and go do a simple task like that. There was a long pause, what seemed like forever, before a person quite near the chalice actually walked over and lit it. Probably only about twenty seconds, but it seemed like forever.
Then the Reverend Scott asked someone to come up and give the benediction. That was more of a challenge because it is usually a prepared minute-long statement, often a sentimental poem or prose piece by a famous person. No one was prepared for that and so no one came forward, and time went painfully forward while this large group of individuals squirmed in their seats, unwilling to expose themselves to ridicule. Then I walked forward to the center of the circle, and I had nothing to say. I was totally unprepared and everyone was looking at me, and I had nothing to say. Certainly, nothing like we were used to hearing, … profound … sentimental … memorable.
It was, for a long moment, like everyone’s personal fears of having stepped forward … when they had nothing to say … and there I was standing there, the perfect living example of their personal anxiety, frozen. I had nothing to say. And then I said, “Pay attention to the person you are looking at!” and then looked directly at the Reverend for about a second and walked away, back to my seat.
It was rather like “Love the one you’re with.” Somehow, it seemed appropriate at the moment. And, after the meeting, a couple of people came up to me and said they liked the comment. It was spontaneous.
I had several other meaningful conversations today, but now it’s time for my bath.