Imagine wandering into a Garage Sale and discovering that unique thing that you’ve been searching for for decades. At a sale in our Unitarian church in summer 2007, I found that perfect fit.
That summer, I was healing from yet another life changing experience. I contemplated the deepest questions of what it means to be human : What is the meaning of life? What is my life’s purpose? How can I best use my remaining years? For answers to these questions, humans have traditionally looked to religion.
Traditional religion was a positive and integral part of my growing up. I enjoyed church and went several times a week to play the organ, teach Sunday School, or for choir or social groups. As an adult, my involvement lessened as I struggled with the supernatural aspects of my faith. I found I could no longer, in all conscience, say the creed. But I still yearned for the many good things that religion offers.
The secular life was not enough. I wanted to meet regularly with people who discuss the deeper issues of life and learn together how to do better. I yearned for a community where tradition and ritual were foundations for celebrating life’s special events, and the wondrous gifts of the natural world. To find resilience, I needed a community where people find mutual support and consolation in the face of life’s problems. I was searching for a religious construction to frame my questions of human existence. I found this Unitarian community, a community that engages in real world endeavours as we commit to the pursuit of well being, freedom and justice for all.
That’s a lot to find at a Garage Sale. I studied the Seven Principles and tried Sunday service. Yes, there was structure and ritual, but no creed. People with outspokenly differing opinions were acting together through adherence to a Covenant of Right Relations. Soon I joined choir, Circle Suppers, Care and Connection committee and Spirit Quest. I was learning and finding friendships as I engaged in activities that gave me meaning and purpose.
Importantly, in addressing my deepest concerns in life, I found Unitarians leading my way. For example, as a member of a team dealing with end of life realities, I faced up to my life’s biggest fears. When I heard of Dying with Dignity, Unitarians gave me the boldness I needed to spread the word and speak directly to the media. Also, this congregation gave me the boldness and direction to speak of my guilt as a staff survivor of an Indian residential school.
That is some of what Unitarians do for me. So what do I do for the Unitarians? I make pledging a priority. A big part why I pledge is found in the Pledge package. I get it that we are a self funded, solidly managed congregation. Using the pie charts in this year’s document, I see clearly every expense from building improvements to our wonderful settled minister. Another pie chart shows 5 important Impacts of our Pledge. Those, along with the moving messages remind me that we are bolder together and I am enthusiastic about contributing to all. At one time I could be generous with my time and energy. I now find both of these in short supply. I may not be able to march, plant a garden, or help set up a home for refugees, but I can still show up, listen, speak and be heard, wash dishes and donate funds over and above my pledge when needed.
Another big part of why I pledge relates to a meaningful joke made by an actor accepting her Oscar. She said, “I did it all myself”. Before life tested me, I might have said those same words. But, life taught me different. When bad things happened to me, I realized that those same bad things happen daily to humans of every race and circumstance. As for the good things, I grew to know full well that all I have received in my life is rooted in circumstances for which I can in no way take credit.
Think about this: when did you first hear a speaker begin by acknowledging that we are on Treaty 6 territory and the homeland of the Metis? For me, this was first a Unitarian expression. Yes, it is an inheritance and a responsibility. Being born white in Saskatchewan comes with privilege that has both nothing and everything to do with me. Part of my responsibility, as I see it, is to give generously, as I have received so much.
I still donate to other charities but now supporting Unitarians comes first. I enjoy having input into deciding how my donations are used. I appreciate giving to a transparent organization in a place where doors have windows, and money matters are clearly explained.
Yes, Unitarians have made me part of something bolder and better. Together, we can become a part of the positive evolution of the human condition. I choose to help this possibility thrive now and into the future. I also pledge a legacy that will play a part in making that happen. Let us boldly pledge together to build a strong and sustainable community.
Joan Adair, Member