Meaning Making in July 2024

By Kathy McGowan

It seems to me that we are currently living in a time when so much feels binary. If we do not feel “this way” then we must feel “that way”. It is so easy to be triggered by words which make us internally say “hell no” or the opposite. Our bodies are made to react to threats. Have you noticed that everything feels like a threat these days?

I am constantly asking myself what our unique role as Unitarian Universalists is in our current time. I continually come back to thinking about how we are different from other groups, organizations, and affiliations. Well, we are religious people so what does the world need from us that it does not get from schools, governments, community organizers etc.?

I always come back to our ability to be reflective. It is our job to be able to observe what is happening around us, which in this day, means around the globe. We observe, allow ourselves to take the time to feel our feelings, take in the real pain that others are feeling, put all of that into a larger context in order to make meaning out of all of it.

Whew, that’s a lot. But meaning making is what we are all about.

We were built to react for survival…you know, fight, flight, or freeze. But I am reminding us that we need to respond not react. We need to be guided by love, not fear. Our current culture wants us to react to fear. In order to live our faith to the fullest we need to respond in love.

Keeping love at the center does not means that we do not feel things other than love. It does mean however that as we take the journey around all of the many things we are feeling and want to react to, we come back to responding in love.

Let us be good observers of all that is happening around us. And it is a lot. Let’s be together in loving spaces that help put our observations into a context that goes beyond our own desires. The world needs us to feel love, be loving, and send love to those whom we may not think are deserving so that we may know each other better.

Take good care of yourselves friends, for in order to put love at the center, we must first love ourselves. Know that you are lovable so that you may be loving to others.



About the Author

Kathy McGowan

Kathy McGowan has been on the Congregational Life Staff for the Southern Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association since 2013. In that time her areas of focus have been in systems thinking, theology, conflict, intercultural sensitivity, and staff supervision. She is one of the primary...

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