Humility and purpose

A couple of items caught my attention this week, separate yet connected, and worth noting.

converted PNM file

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released this photo of our Earth last week, taken by the Cassini spacecraft from its orbit around Saturn.

That’s us, scurrying around on that small white dot right of center, between the rings and the light band below. Could that band be the sun’s glow?

All the human drama, the births and deaths, the love and the hatred, is contained in that small dot that we inhabit — that we share with the mountains, the oceans, and the abundance of plant and animal life.

A tiny, tiny dot in the infinite vastness of space and time.

As I contemplate this image, I’m reminded of the mystery of creation and the fundamental spiritual questions: what is the meaning of life and how do we live lives of meaning?

Related to this, the second item that caught my attention this week came in the form of a blog post by UU minister Tom Schade. He asks how we define ourselves and how we UUs might define ourselves given a 50-year perspective.

It’s all about perspective. You or I can define ourselves by family, city, nation, where born, high school or college, profession, religious affiliation, one or more issues. Just think of how you choose to define yourself.

Tom posits:

“There will be a day when we all see ourselves as one Earth People.”

That conclusion seems pretty obvious from the perspective of Saturn, albeit more hopeful than obvious from Earth.

Tom sees signs, though, rooted in the global challenges humanity is facing: climate change, immigration, and the disparities of the global financial system. As he says,

“Our consciousness of who we are will catch up with the reality.”

How can we UUs provide leadership in this process, rather than passively observing the grinding millstone of history? Tom reminds us of our Universalist heritage and of its continuing theme in our world view. He says

“Our theological construction imagines a single humanity equally beloved by God … We carry from our theological forerunners the seeds of an emerging consciousness — that we exist as the people of the Earth and we are in this together.  One of our missions for the next 50 years is preparing the way.”

Preparing the way. That’s something we UUs can do as a wholesome endeavor and to fulfill our desire to live meaningful lives.

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