I asked my wife to post this piece, which she wrote...I hope you enjoy it!
What follows is the credo statement I have worked up today after participating in Building Your Own Theology, a class offered at our church (Unitarian Church of Los Alamos) where we explored our beliefs about ethics, reality, human nature and the sacred, plumbing our religious history for what we have learned, rejected, what we choose to keep, where we are now.
The credo is supposed to be a statement of my beliefs about the nature of humanity, Ultimate Reality/God, the relationship between these and then the ethics and necessities this lends to my life.
I believe that to be human is to constantly encounter Paradox.
The consciousness that I have developed as I gained the ability to produce language tells me that I am separate and whole unto myself, with unique thoughts, perspectives and traits. In fact, my individuality is what makes me who I am—the uniquely valued wife of my husband, daughter of my parents, mother to my three boys. Yet, at the same time, I am just one iteration of an evolving Universe fully beyond my understanding. My bones, skin and brain are particles of stardust that have existed since the moment Existence ever was, and will take another form after me, time and time again. I will someday exist as matter that no one will recognize, in memories of others that tell only part or half the truth of my story. No matter who I am or was at the end of my days, one day I will surely be part of everything, something unrecognizable.
As part of the fundamental toolbox of my humanity, I can create ideals of justice and compassion out of the thin air of imagination and declaration. I can nurture, heal, transform, give meaning, lend comfort. And, inescapably, I will hurt, self-deceive, and participate in systems that bring death and suffering to fellow humans, fellow animals. My instinct to personally survive, to garner resources, to bring the world as it is into accordance with the world as I need to see it, sometimes wins out over the possibility of Beauty or Compassion or Wisdom, no matter how dear I hold these ideals. I think that we are unwise when we place unwarranted faith in human nature to be anything other than as it is, but I find in the compassion and understanding that I can have for that nature, a peace with the world and a way to practice love.
I think human beings create a concept of God to allow them to connect in some way with that part of themselves that is an expression of what is possible and beautiful, that part of ourselves in which we can quietly find peace and acceptance, that part of our DNA that reacts with love and recognition to all other living things. I do not think that there is a God that is sentient, in any sense larger than that the concept encompasses the sentience of those creatures who happen to have it. I do not think that there exists a God that has a plan of any kind, that the Universe is travelling in a predictable direction, or that inherent fairness from a source larger than humanity will win the day. While thinking these things may lend comfort to me, and has in the past, I find that wrestling with the task that a masterless Universe presents me with makes me a better person, a person who cannot just sigh to myself in the face of suffering that “God simply has a plan that we don’t understand” and turn away, but am called upon to lend a hand or face the consequences of my inaction.
The ethical creed that arises for me out of my understanding of humanity and Ultimate Reality makes it necessary for me to question everything, to be wary of any and all absolutes that I am offered. I can offer Wisdom in the form of my unique point of view, and so I try to. I can bring Compassion and so I actively strive to bring compassion to my relations with other people and creatures. I can create reality with the words I speak and so I conduct myself with Integrity to whatever extent I can muster. In a world that can prove no absolute truth of any kind, where our understandings of the machinations of nature are a moving target, where absolute ethics exist only in the form of societal agreements fortified by the imperative that we survive as social creatures, I still find Beauty to be everywhere and human beings most beautiful of all. I see this as the unconditional love that a family has for all of its members. The world and human beings are deeply flawed and imperfect and I love them because they are mine and I live with them. I know no better way to live here than to love the world, just as it is, as it seems, as it spins out its meaningless, gorgeous threads that make up the tapestry of history, and in which we all find our own pattern there to see.
I will end with the thoughts of Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, who has written in her beautiful song, “We Are”:
For each child that’s born a
“A morning star rises
And sings to the universe
Who we are.
We are our grandmother’s prayers.
We are our grandfather’s dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of God.
We are Mothers of Courage
Fathers of time
Daughters of dust
Sons of great vision.
Sisters of Mercy
Brothers of love
Lovers of life and
The builders of nations.
Seekers of truth
Keepers of faith
Makers of peace and
The wisdom of ages.”