Monthly Spiritual Exercises

Each month you can deepen your experience of our worship theme by engaging in the monthly spiritual exercise. If you are not part of the Soul Matters Circle, share your experience of the spiritual exercise with others on the “Friends of UCM” Facebook group, at coffee hour on Sundays, or even with your family and friends in your day-to-day life.

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February’s Spiritual Exercises

Option A: A Reunion with Your Former Self

A bored sociology student decided he could learn more out in the real world than by sitting in a classroom. So he picked up his camera and took pictures of interesting looking people around town, capturing not only their images but also their stories. Thirty years later he hunted them down to show them those old pictures and give them a reunion with their younger self. Check out pictures of these “reunions” here”:

http://twistedsifter.com/2016/11/reunions-by-chris-porsz/

http://www.upworthy.com/there-are-over-30-years-between-these-amazing-before-and-after-photos?c=upw1&u=41aa6fc0057fcfdc850d917bc669deaf216c544e

This exercise invites you to have a similar reunion with your own former self. Dig through your old photos and find 2 pictures of your “younger self” that best represent your core identity at that time. Then spend some time thinking about what you would say to and ask that younger self if given the chance:

What story would you want to rehash and revisit the most?
How would you thank him or her?
How would you apologize?
What complements would you give?
What secrets would you tell them to keep? Or not keep?
What warnings would you offer? What encouragement would you give?

Here are two videos to inspire you and get you into the mind frame of reunion:

To the Girl I Was: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9ERUJQpdeU

The psychology of your future self: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_you_are_always_changing

Option B: Your T-Shirt

Yes some of us may wear our heart on our sleeves, but virtually all of us wear our identities on our chests. Our t-shirts don’t just inform the world of our allegiances and accomplishments (alma mater, favorite band or sports team), they also tell the world what we want it to be (https://libertymaniacs.com). T-shirts announce our clan (http://101tees.com/50-funny-state-t-shirts) as well as our class (think about whether that polo logo on your shirt mattered as a teen). 

And here’s the most important thing about t-shirts: we keep them around forever. You know the t-shirt that embodies your identity because it’s the one that has holes in it! The wording has faded and the sleeve is torn, but you don’t care! It’s a piece of you. No way is anyone going to throw that away!

So this month, slip your identify over your head and wear it on your chest. Share with a friend why, although the image has faded, you’re still holding on. (New found identities and t-shirts are, of course, welcome as well.)

Option C: Bring Your Identity to Dinner

Identities love to come to dinner! Great grandma’s German pot roast. Aunt Audrey’s pie crust recipe. Norwegian family Christmas and that awful lutefisk. The requirement that great-grandpa’s knife with the ivory handle be used to cut the turkey. And with these dinner table traditions, the old stories come out and we are able to tell ourselves into being once again.

So this month, you are invited to concoct an “Identity Dinner.” Do it with your wider family and make it a way to pass on your traditions to the kids. Pull together your neighbors. Simply, ask everyone to bring a dish, an heirloom and a story that celebrates a piece of your heritage and informs who you are to this day.

Here’s some inspiration to help you get started:

One important note: For many of us, our heritage and identity now feels under threat. Gathering around a table as a Hispanic or Muslim doesn’t feel as safe or celebratory as it should. This is part of the exercise as well. Find a way for the dinner to honor the way our identities are under threat; make sure the dinner involves a commitment to help others feel safe as they embody theirs.

An Inclusive Congregation, Welcoming All