Here's your story. Tell the WCUU audience about it in your own words.
You traveled to visit Washington, DC, in 2008. You visited a big Unitarian Universalist congregation there, called All Souls, Unitarian. You wanted to know where the name came from.
You found a large, impressive building that really looks like a church. You went in, and the people were friendly.
Where did the name come from? It was first used in 1877, and it came from words of William Ellery Channing. He was a Unitarian minister who lived from 1770 to 1842. Today he is known as one of the founders of Unitarian Universalism. Back then, he said, "I am a member of the living family of all souls." He thought everybody had souls, and he referred to people as souls.
The members and friends of All Souls still do that today. Its web site says, "For more than 180 years, All Souls has sought to live up to its name. We welcome all souls to join us in pulling down the walls that separate us so that we may see ourselves as one human family."
So, you learned that UUs sometimes refer to people as "souls." That suggests that every person has one.
You have always admired Clara Barton. She was a famous nurse who helped Union soldiers during America's Civil War. She was also a Universalist, and you decided to travel back through time to see what she said about soul.
Unfortunately, people were shooting cannons and rifles at each other during that war. Some of the shells came very close to Clara Barton, and some came close to you as you wandered through time.
But you were lucky. You did not get hurt. You were lucky again when you read a letter Clara Barton wrote to her cousin. She spoke in the letter of her pain at thinking about the mothers, wives and sisters of the soldiers injured and killed in the war. She wanted God to pity and strengthen every one of them.
She said she wished that "Christ would teach my soul a prayer that would plead to the Father" God on behalf of the families.
So Clara Barton thought of the human soul as a place of prayer, and you had something to report on WCUU.
You are a little irritated. All the other reporters were assigned to travel through time and space to hear what UUs have to say about soul. You were sent home to read the UU hymnals. That was not as exciting as traveling, but at least you learned about souls.
In the big gray book, Singing the Living Tradition, you found Hymn 100. It is called "I've Got Peace Like a River," and if you read the whole first verse, it says, "I've got peace like a river in my soul." The other verses say you have peace joy, love, pain, tears, and strength, all in your soul.
In Singing the Journey, the small green supplement to the hymnbook you found Hymn 1007, "There's a River Flowin' in My Soul." When you read through all the verses, you found that the river was also flowing in your heart and your mind. "Aha," you said. "The soul is connected to the heart and the mind. It is a place were we experience many strong emotions, such as peace, pain, and joy."
So you made two discoveries to report on WCUU.
You traveled through time and space to nineteenth-century Massachusetts. You wanted to find out what Ralph Waldo Emerson had to say about soul. He was once a Unitarian minister, and he was a great and famous philosopher.
You found out that Emerson had tons and tons to say about soul. Not all of it was easy to understand. He often wrote and talked about the "over-soul." That is a huge and universal force that he said contains the individual souls of all people. The over-soul is huge to Emerson. It is a type of deep, divine thought. It unites everybody. It looks forward, toward the future, toward eternity.
Emerson also talked about the soul in every individual. Soul is the part of a person that sees and knows truth. It is deep power. It is the part of the whole in everything. It is beauty.
You wish your trip had been longer so you could have learned more. But you had to get back to give your report.
You sort of like staying home. So you traveled by Internet, and you found a UU connection to soul you had never seen before. It was a poem written by Tess Baumberger. She was a UU minister in 2008, and here is some of what she wrote:
Wouldn't it be great if you could take a picture of your soul?
Then when your mother wanted to brag about you she could show people the picture and say,
"That's my daughter, doesn't she have a beautiful soul,
All sparkly and many-colored and flowing all around her?"
Wouldn't it be great if we walked around
Surrounded by our souls,
So that they were the first things people saw
Instead of the last things?
Then people would judge us by who we really are
Instead of how we look.
So some UUs think of the soul as an important core part of us that it might be good for other people to see. Seeing other people's souls is not easy, they add, and that is too bad.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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