Of all our themes this year, Embracing Possibility is arguably most central to our faith. It has distinguished Unitarian Universalists from the start. Historically, when others saw depravity and sin at the core of human identity, we saw potential. When many were preaching that this world was fallen, we fell in love with the possibility of heaven on earth. Theologically, you might say we were the people who believed that God hadn’t given up on us and so we shouldn’t give up on each other or this world. Psychologically, it’s led to us being a people of “why not?” Why not give people another chance? Why not fight what seems a losing battle? Why not risk a little failure?
So that’s our religion. But what about us personally? How open have you been recently to “Why not?” How’s your faith in possibility doing? As we honor our religion’s faith in what’s possible, we need to allow space for the reality that trusting possibility isn’t so easy for many of us. Here’s how one Soul Matters member puts the challenge:
“When I think of possibility, I think of all the people and opportunities we close the door on. Such as: ‘I will never see eye to eye with my sister.’ ‘I couldn’t possibly leave this job to start my own business’ ‘I will never have close friends like I had where I used to live.’ ‘I will never really make a difference, so why bother?’“
We tell ourselves so many small stories about who we and others are. So many tiny tales of what the world could be. Part of it has to do with real life defeats. But often a bigger part of it is about imagined fear and protecting ourselves. There’s comfort in convincing yourself that the effort is hopeless; that way you don’t have to try and risk failure, hurt or disappointment, yet again.
All of which is to say that maybe Embracing Possibility has more to do with being a people of vulnerability and courage than we’ve thought. The work isn’t just about believing in possibility. It’s about being willing to endure a few wounds along the way. It can hurt to be hopeful.
So maybe the question this month isn’t “Are you ready to lean into possibility?” but “Who’s beside you and who are you bringing along?” “Who have you gathered to patch and pick you up when the path gets bumpy?” Whose faith can you lean on when yours grows dim? After all, no one makes it down the road of possibility alone.
And perhaps that’s the real secret: remembering that “Why not?” is something we all have to say and sing together. It’s not a solo act. For it to sink in – and better yet take flight – it needs to be at least a duet. Of course, a quartet is even better. And just imagine what we might pull off if we can gather a choir, all singing the tune of “Why not?!” at the top of our lungs