Istanbul, July 2015. The beginning of an epic adventure caused an extra measure of adrenaline to course through our veins. The air smelled of grilled meat and spices. Sweat dripped everywhere as we walked the streets, unable to read the signs. We were jet-lagged. Nothing was normal, almost everything was unfamiliar.
Then we heard the call to prayer. Five times a day, the ezan (as it is called in Turkish) echoed through the city as a muezzin at each mosque melodiously called Muslims to make their prayers. Within a couple of days, the ezan was a part of my own rhythm and I found myself taking a moment of mindfulness each time I heard the call.
The very first worship service I attended at UUCC was Ingathering* in 2010. There was a wooden votive holder on the table by the lectern, arched and holding seven colored glass votive candles arranged in rainbow order. The service was titled “Our Rainbow Principles — an Ingathering”. I couldn’t have had a better introduction to Unitarian Universalism and I knew fairly quickly that I was spiritually home.
If the seven principles are the “what” of UU beliefs, the six sources are the “why”. Over the years, some sources have featured more prominently in my life than others. My childhood religious experiences emphasized Jewish and Christian teachings. My public schooling and university education emphasized the “guidance of reason and the results of science” as well as the “words and deeds of prophetic women and men.” My fourteen-plus years of parenthood are filled with direct experiences of awe, wonder, mystery and transcendence.
It was that thirst for direct experiences that led my family to travel the world together for eight months last year. It brought us to Istanbul first, where the ezan renewed my spirit, and it continues to lead me to experience wonder through other cultures everywhere I go. The challenge, I know, will be to stay open to the experiences available to me here in the routine and familiar culture of central Maryland. icon-fire
* An Ingathering Service, in a Unitarian Universalist congregation, is the first service after a summer hiatus. It has special significance for a close-knit community like UUCC.