Part 8 in a multi-installment series for Lent.
8. Today’s Journey – What was your most impactful spiritual moment of 2018?
Winner – The Good Morning Song
The most affecting, moving, and inspirational spiritual experience I had in 2018 happened at Ferry Beach last July. Ferry Beach is a Unitarian Universalist camp and conference center on the Maine coast. I attended a week long session on Unitarian Universalist religious education. Each day began with a morning worship at the chapel. The chapel at Ferry Beach is outside, in a clearing in the woods, not far from the campground. It was a short, simple service, with music. Each morning began with a song led by Sadie Kahn-Greene, the Director of Faith Formation at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua. Sadie said she doesn’t know the origin, author, or composer of this song. (but if anyone does, we’d both love to learn and give them credit and our thanks). She says she learned it at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in Highlands, North Carolina, another Unitarian Universalist camp.
This song went straight through my heart. It was one of those things that just grabbed my soul and wouldn’t let go. The inspiration, the positive energy, the encouragement, the lightness of being suffused me. The way it sounded matched the mood of sunlight streaming into the chapel through the trees and the scent of the sea in the breeze. It was hopeful and full of life. And it hooked me.
There was a silent auction fundraiser near the end of the week and I made the winning bid on a copy of the lyrics to the good morning song, handwritten by Sadie in blue marker on a piece of white paper and mounted a piece of purple (my favorite color) construction paper. This now lives on my refrigerator and I read it every morning. Sometimes I sing it.
I had two other experiences in the past year, both about a year ago, that I also considered, but realized I’d been most affected by the Good Morning Song (or whatever it’s actual title is). One was at the Revolutionary Love 18 Conference and the other was a Passover Seder.
Last April I attended the Revolutionary Love 18 Conference at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City. Sunday morning worship at Middle Collegiate Church was inspirational and transformative. If I wasn’t working on Sunday mornings, I’d want to attend a church with a worship service like that at Middle Collegiate.
The service was Christian, but very progressive. The music was amazing and included a variety of styles. An activity for all ages had everyone write prayers on post-its and they were used to create a sun. A liturgical dance was performed by two church members who also choreographed it. Liturgical dance can be horrible but this was stunning. And the sermon was preached by the inimitable Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis.
The other runner up was last year at Passover. My partner is Jewish and we went to her sister’s house for the Passover Seder. This was a great experience for me for a number of reasons. Above all, my partner’s family is incredibly hospitable and welcoming and I feel like a member of the family, not a guest. I’d also never been to a Seder in its natural setting – a family home. All the Seders I’ve ever been to were either at Christian Churches during Holy Week or some other public setting. Some of them definitely strayed into the realm of misappropriating another faith tradition. I know a lot about Passover and the Seder, but I’d never really, truly experienced it. The public Seder is an event. A family Seder is special in its particular family traditions and in its ordinariness. As I took my turn reading from the Haggadah (in English), I felt honored to be connected to the ancient meal and its story, as well as my partner’s family. In an ongoing (sadly) climate of growing fascism, antisemitism, racism, hatred and violence I was reminded that each generation has to come out of Egypt for itself.