Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holy of Holies

From the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Statesboro Newsletter
December 2009

MINISTERIAL MUUSINGS

Yes, the hectic pace of the holiday season is upon us. Where, oh, where can we find peace? Where can we find the Divine?

Poet Anne Sexton went looking for the Divine and wrote the poem quoted below about that experience.

GODS

Ms. Sexton went out looking for the gods.
She began looking in the sky
—expecting a large white angel with a blue crotch.

No one.

She looked next in all the learned books
and the print spat back at her.

No one

She made a pilgrimage to the great poet
and he belched in her face.

No one.

She prayed in all the churches of the world
and learned a great deal about culture.

No one.

She went to the Atlantic, the Pacific, for surely God...

No one.

She went to the Buddha, the Brahma, the Pyramids
and found immense postcards.

No one.

Then she journeyed back to her own house
and the gods of the world were shut in the lavatory.

At last!
she cried out,
and locked the door.

This poem was quoted by one of the speakers at the ministers’ conference that I attended recently and I immediately connected. Ah, yes, I know the place. The gods of the bathroom are very real to me. Here, and sometimes, only here, can one find solace, privacy, and peace, among the soap and toothpaste and toiletries. And there is even a throne to sit upon for meditation.

I became a Unitarian Universalist convert in this holy room. You see, I spent most of my life in the Southern Baptist church, but began questioning their beliefs in my early teens. I continued my spiritual exploration in adulthood, and rationalized that Southern Baptists lifted up the “Priesthood of the Believer,” so I could still be a Baptist and seek my own interpretations of the Divine. But when the conservatives took over the denomination in 1979, it became especially difficult; and I no longer felt that I could openly share my feelings and beliefs, not even with my husband who was a deacon in the church. When I saw a program in 1990 about Unitarian Universalism on television, I ordered the materials, hoping they would be delivered in a plain brown rapper. When the package arrived, I retrieved them from the mailbox – and took them – where? – to the bathroom of course. I hid them in a drawer under the “feminine products” along with my other contraband literature. It was here that I studied Unitarian Universalism and began to embrace this liberating faith.

Two decades later, as a Unitarian Universalist minister (with a new UU husband to boot), I no longer have the need to hide what I read in the bathroom drawer. But this room is still a very holy place to me. I especially love taking baths – soaking in the warm water, and smelling the soap. Here in this special “Holy of Holies,” I sing praise songs to Sexton’s "gods of the laboratory" and listen to their sweet refrain.

Hallelujah!

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