As Sharon concluded her talk (I hesitate to use the word 'sermon' to describe this very informal talk) the UUs passed the collection plate (everyone's got to eat) and moved to extinguishing of the Chalice.
"And now we extinguish our chalice, but not the one thatAt first I wondered why they would even extinguish the flame. Why not keep an eternal flame burning (again forgetting they were meeting in borrowed space)? I had overlooked the simplicity and symbolism of the extinguishing of the Chalice: the chalice is merely a physical representation of the symbolic flame we have within ourselves. Through community connection and reflection we keep spirit alive: that which binds and interweaves us with each other. I believe it points to that primal energy, the core of our humanity. The lighting and extinguishing of the chalice is a reminder of where we came from, who we are now, and the hidden potential of our future.
burns forever in our hearts.
It glows bright to help us face the world's shadows,
with a chalice of light.
To face the world's coldness,
with a chalice of warmth,
To face the world's terrors
with a chalice of courage.
To face the world's turmoil,
with a chalice of peace.
May its glow fill our spirits, our hearts, and our lives,
until we meet here again in peace, hope and love."
During the second half of the service we had the choice between going on a meditation walk or participating in a Q and A with the guest speaker. Although I found the idea of a meditation walk intriguing I'm drawn to discussion and dialog. The comments and questions circled around the theme of our difficulty to control ourselves during pressure situations. Belief and dependence on a deity for assistance, and even the concept of a deity itself, was never mentioned. I was tempted to bring up the Hebrew phrase hevel havalim, "breath of breath", from the wisdom of Ecclesiastes and the concept of living in an impermanent and chaotic world. But I'm not a good public speaker and I enjoy hearing others speak more than myself (I do enough of that here) so I kept my mouth shut. What I did enjoy was the open interaction as well as the themes of connection and unity you don't see at other churches. I believe these are vital for the human spirit although the symbols, language, and imagery are just what they are: symbols, language and imagery. They point towards what we struggle to name yet the tangible is just as impermanent as the rest of the cosmos, frail and extinguishable.