On the Meaning of Life
“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.