Surrounded by the Divine Unknown A Homily by Henry Katzman

Each year Summer Seminary students select 4 or 5 student-written homilies to be shared at Sunday worship of the host Unitarian Universalist congregation. This year Henry Katzman delivered his homily, "Surrounded by the Divine Unknown", at First Unitarian Church Chicago Sunday Worship on July 29, 2018.

Watch it here, and read the transcript, below.


I was given a generally simple prompt, that being prompt being “What is the meaning of life?” Now to give an equally simple answer, I will flatly say, “I do not know.” But this unknown might be the discernment that I am looking for. These past few days I have lived closely with whatever that answer may be, singing, meditating, dancing and at times making unknown sounds that even the divine may look at with a raised eyebrow.

My ministry so far has been unique, most of it happening with the mental health system as a resident institutions, at times having no choice in how I partake. I have been a witness to the kind of suffering that tears at the soul, knowing that it may never be fixed. I have grown up in these places, filled with intensity and although I have found healing from the reasons that led me there, I also find that my upbringing into adulthood shapes how I experience new things.

This week was no different, as it approached I felt a mixture of excitement and dread, part of me screaming that, I am to different, I am to wounded and because of my different abilities I will not belong. As I felt this and as the day of the flight approached, my fear as well as hope deepened, knowing that I would have to face these things.

Life, a word that cannot exist without the concept of death, meaning a word that cannot exist without the concept uncertainty, I challenge myself and those around me to think as to how the unknown, plays in our lives, but also how we place expectations into the unknown.

As this week progressed I found that I knew less than I ever had before. Although yes, I do want to follow this path where it leads. The looming trees and weather reminiscent before a thunderstorm have made this path unclear to the point where all I can do is put one foot in front of another and repeat that cycle My path is sacred; the unknown for me is interchangeable with the divine and as I put expectations into the future I notice that I limit the capability of this divine. This week I let go off throwing those expectations into the unknown and instead learn from the moment, knowing that I am surrounded by the divine, but also a sacred and special community that loves me and I love them deeply.

The divine unknown sometimes doesn’t need to be known and I hope that everybody who hears this doesn’t know. In this celebration of what we call Unitarian Universalizism nobody has a monopoly on the truth, instead we share our small bits of truth with each to, making a body of understanding. Not unlike the cosmos, our faint light from our internal stars light up the sky to make a bigger picture, a picture at times we aren’t even aware of.

This week I have had a glimpse at this picture, not knowing what it was, but able to see how sacred it is and my divine place in it.