June 2022 Grace Notes on the theme of Pleasure
The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea, and sky and their amazing life.
Pleasure is the joyous wonder found in everyday living.
Many know that I am a devotee of the 20th century Marine Biologist, Rachel Carson; and it should come as no surprise that I often turn to her writings when looking for a way to celebrate the world of the senses. I want us all to follow her insight that connecting with the natural world is a source of pleasure, but not only that, it is a deep and everlasting reservoir of power and strength that will help us live more fully. This month let's allow the everyday miracles to dazzle us with their wanton splendor. The beauty of the natural world is seeking us out, hoping that we might really notice it, with awe and reverence. I am talking about taking into our souls the extravagance of prickly flowers and scented herbs; notice and delight in the gracious proportionality of the built environment, the symmetry in architectural forms, the harmonious arrangement of musical notes in a song, the qualities of light and shadow and the gorgeousness of lengthening sunsets as they go headlong into summer solstice. I am inviting us to taste the salt air along the beaches and marshes as if our lives depended on it.
Our spiritual theme is Pleasure and this is our summons to find the joyous wonder that our senses impart to us. This is a journey into the heart of the spiritual practice of sensuality, which in this context is the appreciation of the three dimensional, physicality of our world. We need a true and comprehensive sensuality, especially in our hyper visual-centric media culture. It’s shocking how we are bombarded with images, often accompanied by sounds, but we have so few opportunities to smell, or taste or touch. I would encourage us to change all of that, and engage our other senses; perhaps, by stopping to smell the roses, touching the ancient lichen covered stonewall, hearing the full cacophony of pre-dawn birdsong, leaning into a warm hug.
Religion has been maligned, perhaps deservedly, by many for being concerned with everything not of this world; being obsessively preoccupied with the speculative, the supernatural and the paranormal. However, our living tradition is not that. Unitarian Universalism is a religion of realities; leaving room for mystery, all the while embracing the life we can perceive through our senses, and through our experiences. This month consider some ways to better connect with the physical world with these religious practices:
What would it be like to take a walk, and to close your eyes for a moment to better appreciate the scents of forest or of the cul-de-sac?
What would it feel like to eat with your hands, touching your food as you taste it?
Would it add anything to your experience of connection with a loved one, if you closed your eyes and listened closely to what they have to say?
Turning our attention to the pleasures of a sensory world is not to say that we should ignore the roughness and meanness of the world. We should not turn away from the brutality of systemic racism or white supremacy or the daily assaults on the natural world, in favor of escaping into pleasant fantasies. Our greatest commitment should be to Life in its fullness, and devoting our entire sensorium to the realization of joy. That intention leads us to uncover the holy in everyday life through our interaction with everyday things. The things we can sense through: touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight ultimately lend us the strength and power to realize our greatest dreams and overcome so many momentary limitations.
Remember this one life is not a dress rehearsal, enjoy it now. And, yes, pleasure is a source of power!
Remember, I want to hear from you! I welcome feedback on our spiritual themes, sermon topics and programs. Reaching “in” and sharing your thoughts is the best ways to get the most out of your beloved community. Email, call or text message me at 508-887-0662, or visit the meetinghouse.
My office hours are: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00-5:00pm *I am available at other times by appointment.
Friday is my Sabbath Day
With Love, Rev. Daniel