Spirituality in a Unitarian church.... there's something new
So since then I have been a Unitarian, and only a Unitarian (not that that precludes a lot of theological development). In some ways this has been a great period of my life, most of it spent in the United States. I enjoyed my studies more than any other time of my life. Personally, intellectually, and in a lot of ways it's been a great period of my life. But I have to admit that spiritually it has been a pretty dry period. Traditionally protestant 'corpse-cold' Unitarian worship does not do much for me. I've struggled, missing communion, silence, liturgy, or even great charismatic emotional worship. In some ways I've had to acknowledge that being Unitarian has been bad for my spiritual life. That's a problem. For too long I've been content to live on the surface, not bothering to delve into the depths of the soul. I've missed God. And I was never really thinking about the fact that I was talking about God without ever maintaining a living relationship with God.
But in the last few months I've been back in Birmingham. I've been trying to pray a few times a day deliberately. And I've been going to a weekly meditation gathering at church.
The more I've been going to these, the more I've got out of them. It makes me realise how un-spiritual most U*U churches are. I set up a Taize service in the last six months I was in Boston, but this was only once a month. Plus we were moved around month by month. Delegated to smaller rooms when the chapel was being used for something else. I resented this a bit, because what we were doing was worship and isn't worship the primary thing a church should do? I think of how many adult RE cources, social events and lectures that church put on, but there was never any intentional spiritual activities.
So its been really refreshing to come here and find a minister that actually takes spirituality seriously. This weekly gathering has become a really sustaining part of my spiritual diet. Nothing very exciting happens. It's sort of a cross between hymn sandwich and a Quaker meeting. We have a few readings and long periods of silence. We light a chalice, and each light a candle from the chalice. Anyone can bring a reading but usually its a lot of stuff from the minister and I usually manage to bring something. But there's an increasingly powerful depth to our shared silence. It has begun to feel like a spiritual teaching circle, as after our meditation we discuss spiritual topics. It's also been enriched by the fact that some Rastafarians have been coming too. It's been amazing to actually come to a place where I can be a Unitarian mystic. I'm actually regularly feeling the Spirit of God in a Unitarian church, which is amazing to me.
We need to reclaim our mystical radical reformation roots and let the Spirit outpour on this dry old community. And we've started. Thank God.