Nov. 3, 2017
From the first century of the Common Era comes these words of wisdom:
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?” – Rabbi Hillel
This Sunday we will explore ways that we fail to be “for ourselves,” using the lens of “The Four Agreements,” a book by don Miguel Ruiz. Ruiz taps into wisdom passed down from the ancient Toltec culture, and makes it relevant to our modern lives. The book is written in clear language and
was a best seller in the late 1990s. Not a text for a Philosophy class, it provides a simple, practical way of understanding the self in the world.
Ruiz claims that each of us lives in a dream, surrounded not by truth but by agreements about what truth is. In an early chapter he says “Your mind is a dream where a thousand people talk at the same time, and nobody understands each other.” He goes on to explain how we retain “agreements” and continue trying to please others, even long after they have died. We each live in an illusion.
I am fascinated by his words and I am fascinated by the way this book is addressed to a segment of
the population that needs these words. A segment of the population which normally reads positive
self-help books or Christian advice books calling for making friends with the Holy Spirit. “The Four
Agreements” is worth reading even though it is neither grounded in research on apes nor brain scans of people with depression. It is worth reading because it speaks plainly and invites self reflection.
I hear resonances with works by Viktor Frankl, who survived Auschwitz, with Norbert Capek, who led
the Czech Unitarian Church and did not survive Dachau, and with Kahlil Gibran whose 1923 book
“The Prophet” has invited contemplation for generations. These authors speak about serenity within
a work-a- day life. Come on Sunday, and hear more. It reminded me of Rabbi Hillel’s advice, which
certainly was directed to the worker and not the king. Simple guides to live by.
It’s November! Our monthly theme is Relationships, and how better to grow them than to attend
tonight’s Fabulous First Friday dinner. A simple, all ages get-together in the social hall, “FFF” can
certainly build relationships. Friday has a second event, at 7 PM, which our new Communications
Coordinator, Tracy Brune, has been advertising around for Ron Lovell. Dr. Joe Bouchard, an
environmental expert and leader in Hampton Roads will speak on environmental issues facing
Virginia and the nation.
Vote! Ron Lovell and Dave Hamby directed me to newspaper articles explaining how the
Commonwealth had banned the voting machines Norfolk used in the primary election. This is good
news, as our precincts will now use verifiable voting techniques. Don’t forget next Tuesday!! Make
your vote count.
Engage! This Saturday our Pagan Group celebrates Samhain with ritual and potluck. This is a wonderful chance to engage in peaceful ritual and centering.
Fall back! It is the end of Daylight Savings Time … so you can take your time on Sunday morning! However, the tide “could” be high this Sunday, so consider carpooling with someone with a high clearance vehicle or who might drop you off on Yarmouth Street. Check www.ucnorfolk.org for the link to “Tides.” That’s it for now.
I love you!