“Wow. You may not be ordained, but you’re doing ministry already.”– Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association(UUA). Watch as Audrey Havelah Laughrey, UUA Summer Seminary 2015 graduate, delivers her “preach-off” sermon at First Universalist Church of Denver.
Yesterday, I was given two things by the Summer Seminary staff. First, I was given a rather simple question. What is the meaning of life? And then I was given three minutes. While the programming of Summer Seminary was very fulfilling, I don't feel quite ready to answer a question that no theologian, philosopher, teacher, or sophist has been able to address with a resounding yes from any kind of majority of humanity, both from the past or in the present.
I have learned in Summer Seminary the framework of an answer in the form of a handful of "ologies." But these aren't answers. They have flashy vocabulary that let me immerse myself in academia and dance around the question, kind of like how I am now. I am ambitious and stubborn, but I am not nearly intoxicated enough to walk into a room of people like this one, who are likely filled with anti-creed, anti-dogmatic Unitarian Universalists, and proclaim that I am lighting the new way with the word that is objective and holy, the word of Audrey.
Honestly, I don't really care if you ever name a meaning in your life. Now if I stutter or mumble even a little bit, it'll sound as if I'm saying your life doesn't have meaning. However, I am only suggesting that finding, knowing, having, or having faith in a particular "meaning of life" does not make your life any more poignant or meaningful, at least innately.
If I die tomorrow with life's meaning still unnamed, my life will be no less incredible, and I will feel no less fulfilled. A good, hearty soup is no less good and hearty even if I don't know quite how it got that way. That's the joy of certain uncertainty.
Perhaps my refusal to give a trite and shallowly thought out answer to this question is proof of the infamous Audrey non-conformity, or perhaps it's exactly the response that we needed to hear to this question. By which, I mean as religious individuals, we spend a lot of time exploring questions like this one.
From those ponderings we found the five jagged rocks of Unitarian Universalism, the seven principles, a book full of hymnals, actually a world full of music and literature that leads us on our journey every single day, though I believe most of us don't know exactly where we're going, where we're being guided to.
Trust me. As a youth on the cusp of young adulthood, I am very familiar with the pressures of having a 650-word-or-less answer to this question. However, agonizing over this has shown me that this meaning business might be more trouble than it's worth. So consider this a fair warning. If someone asks me again the meaning of life, I'm going to tell them to shut up and enjoy their soup.