About a year ago I decided that as I still hadn't found a religion that I felt suited my own experience of spirituality and god, I would create one!
A few of us met to discuss what it would be, and we began our research, during which I discovered New Unity, a Unitarian Church, in Islington/Newington Green, and felt that their ethos was similar to my own. I intended on going to a church service but didn't get around to it, and as with life, things happen, and, over a year later after becoming quite ill, and at the end of a relationship, I was looking for somewhere I could connect to, be a part of an existing community. I remembered the research I'd done, and decided I'd finally go to the service. Today was that day. The first time since I was 10 years old, I attended a church service that wasn't a funeral, wedding or christening.
The service was led by Andy Pakula and had the title Slow down! New Unity Church is Unitarian and has particularly liberal views, welcoming agnostics, atheists, jews, muslims, Buddhists and anything in between.
I joined in the singing, although that isn't my strongest skill ever! And I was delighted to see a beautiful ritual as part of the ceremony; anyone who wishes lights a candle for a
joy or a sorrow, or both and if they chose they can share with the congregation what they are lighting it for.
There were some beautiful joys shared, and some touching sorrows. One lady cried as she was sharing, so much so that I couldn't make out her words. The words were irrelevant, what was important was that she was heard by the congregation and I loved that a space like that was available. That here is a space where it's ok, it's accepted to experience human grief, no need to "stuff it back down".
What this said clearly to me, is that all of me, no matter how joyful or sorrowful is welcome in this church. It was a touching moment; there were certainly tears in my eyes.
There were a few minutes silence for meditation, more singing and a reading, then a story. The story made me smile, very much so :)
It was about an MBA educated man explaining to a poor fisher man how catching more than he needed and selling it would provide him with great fortune, so that he could live a relaxed life and enjoy time with his family; something he already had by only catching what met his families' needs.
The sermon wasn't preachy, it reminded me of many of my own blog posts, a mixture of sharing from experience of how as a mere human being doing our best and learning is enough, and adding wisdom and knowledge from other sources.
The opening asked about how often do you do one thing at a time? Not very often I thought! Commenting on how we are taught that being busy is valuable. How so many of us live as though we are never going to die, and then we die without ever having lived.
And in finishing up, a reminder that the worth of what you are, is greater than what you do. I liked that phrase so much I wrote it down, on the little pamphlet that accompanied the service.
This is a warm congregation, a warm, friendly and loving church, the values of which are community, spirituality and love. There was no hell or damnation, no judgement or dogma. Just a gentle, warm loving acceptance of all whom were there.
I felt at home here. I felt inspired by listening to the readings and Andy's sermon. His way of communicating touched people today, left an impact, added value, it made them think about how valuable they are as people.
It made me think, it affirmed my recent choices, to slow down, concentrate on regaining my own physical health. Attending the service today made me feel warm, connected. I felt at home, like I've never felt in a church before.
I suspect I probably will set up a church of my own at some point, whether I call it a church, or a community, I'm not sure, but for now, I feel New Unity is somewhere I can go to feel at home.