The Soul Matters is a program shared by over 170 UU congregations, including Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church, who explore the same monthly worship themes. In this way we build greater connections as Unitarian Universalists.
To read more about the themes in the Resource packets, please click on the links below to request access to the packet.
Register now for Soul Matters small groups, beginning in the Fall!
Northlake will be starting up small groups (official name to be announced shortly!) to offer an opportunity for groups of 8-10 people to meet together to deepen their connections to one another and to delve into the Soul Matters worship theme more deeply. If you are interested, please register here.
October 2018 – Sanctuary
What Does It Mean To Be A People of Sanctuary? Just saying the word “sanctuary” brings one a sense of peace and safety. It can bring back conflicted memories for some, but for most of us the idea of sanctuary conjures up feelings of being protected. Like its close cousin refuge, it speaks to the universal longing for a space to retreat from the dangers and depletions of the world. One thinks of the family ties and friendships that protect, restore and heal us. The sanctuary movement and its refuge for immigrants is another powerful example of offering life-giving safe space. As the well-loved Irish proverb puts it, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
So, certainly, the hunger for protection and the call to protect each other is central to this month. But as we dig deeper, we are reminded that the sanctuaries in our lives do more than simply protect us; they also strengthen us for the new journeys ahead. And, as we journey forward, we also discover that our sanctuaries need sheltering and protection themselves. It’s a paradox: our sanctuaries can’t protect and repair us unless we also protect and repair them. The green sanctuary movement is a great example of this. The solace of nature and the life-giving interdependent web needs us as much as we need them. The same is true for the sanctuaries in our personal lives. Friendship, silence, stillness: these are all things that wither if we don’t tend to and make space for them. So, in the end, maybe the most important question this month is “How are we caring for our sanctuaries so they can take care of us?”
September 2018 – Vision
“What will mess you up most in life is the picture in your head of how it is supposed to be.”
Most often, we’re encouraged to “stay true to your vision.” We’re warned that without a clear vision, we’re vulnerable to whatever winds blow. It’s true. A clear vision anchors us. It gives us direction and hope. It is, indeed, a precious thing to which we should hold fast.
It is also, of course, imperfect. As Unitarian Universalists, we also know that one vision isn’t enough. As clear as our perspectives may be, we all know by now that none is complete. To see the entire view, we need everyone’s vantage point.
What a delight and opportunity! Learning about the visions of others isn’t just a way of making up for your flawed perspective. It’s also an invitation to see the world anew! And while having to let go of precious visions and dreams is painful, it’s also exhilarating to evolve and grow.
August 2018 – Letting Go
When cast into the depths, to survive, we must first let go of things that will not save us. Then we must reach out for the things that can. – Rev. Forrest Church
We cling. You name it, we’ve wrapped our grasping fingers and anxious hearts around it. Whether the object of our grasping is good or bad is not, as we learn, truly the issue. The grasping itself-that’s the real problem. Holding on too long and too tightly is never good for the soul. What might we gain by Letting Go?
July 2018 – Balance
When we talk of balance, it’s natural for calm and rest to be the first things that come to mind. We are often so weighed down by responsibility and worry that it only takes one drop of something unexpected to tip us over. So, yes, we long for rest. And yet, balance is as much in the dynamic tension in the moment when the diver stands at the end of the diving board, about to go all in as it is in the calm repose of re-centering. It’s not just about rest, but about resting up for a journey. Balance allows us to catch our breath, but it’s also about finding our center so we can end all our aimless wandering around. Balance, then, becomes our source of strength that gets us where we need to go.
June 2018 – Liberation
Individual liberation and collective liberation are
deeply intertwined. American culture tempts us into an
individualistic thinking, a narrowed worldview that
sometimes ignores the sufferings of others. Our
spiritual communities call us back to a sense of
solidarity and respect for one another. In this
community, we support one another both in freeing
ourselves to be who we are meant to be, and in
widening the lens of our concern to focus on the
broader community. Justice and liberation are deeply
spiritual. Without tending to our personal needs and
spiritual sustenance, it is difficult to maintain effective
engagement in the work toward collective liberation.
Join us this month as we consider both the personal and
collective aspects of liberation.
May 2018 – Embodiment
Every religion worth its salt will tell you that the reason to pay attention to the present moment is so that we can better hear what life and our hearts are trying to tell us. Embodied living is not simply about being grateful for the unnoticed gifts in front of us; it’s also about noticing that every moment and every context –- no matter how imperfect, messed up and incomplete – is trying to talk to us! The reason we are called to allow nature to embody us is not simply so that we can feel our interconnectedness; it’s so that we can allow that interconnectedness to tell us its wisdom. Let’s take the time this month to hear this wisdom.
April 2018 – Abundance
March 2018 – Risk
James Baldwin wrote, “To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger.” Risk is usually associated with the dare devils and thrill seekers. The real danger, we’re told, is a life of boredom. The battle is between the bland and the bold. Yet, as James Baldwin reminds us, it’s not quite that simple. He places commitment, not thrills, at the center of the game. For him, the ones to be admired are not so much the dare devils as the dedicated ones. From this perspective, the important question about life is not “Are you willing to jump off? Will you be daring?” but rather “Are you willing to jump in? Will you stay true?” The most deeply rewarding risks are the ones that involve jumping into causes and putting our hearts in the hands of others. Join us this month as we explore how we risk jumping in for our most important commitments.
February 2018 – Perseverance
Most often when talking about perseverance, we’re asked, “Are you ready to be strong?” The standard recipe is well known: Keep moving forward! Dig deep; you are stronger than you know! But maybe this isn’t the path to perseverance; maybe it’s just the path to breakdown. As a people of perseverance, we are being called not just to grit and strong wills, but to gentleness and self-care. Constantly pushing ourselves without also giving ourselves the gift of pause gets us nowhere. Perhaps vulnerability is the real secret to perseverance. We don’t have to give up those pep talks about digging deep, but right alongside that, let’s make sure we’re doing the more tender work of propping each other up and reminding each other to breathe.
January 2018 – Prophecy
UU theologian Rebecca Parker wrote “Our times ask us to exercise our capacity for prophetic witness…our capacity to see what is happening, to say what is happening and to act in accordance with what we know…Prophetic witness…is the ability to name those places where we resist knowing what needs to be known.” We need prophetic communities now more than ever. Most of the time, holy work is about finding common ground among differing world views. But sometimes, holy work is about prophetic judgment and knowing when some views need to be opposed.
November 2017 – Simplicity
It’s not just society that celebrates status, stuff and over-scheduled lives; we cling to them as well. The busyness of our lives is not just overwhelming; it’s also seductive. Over-scheduled lives don’t just tip us over; they tempt us. They promise us power, affirmation, and proof that we are worthy. To be busy is to have made it. To be over-committed is to be wanted and needed. No wonder we have such a hard time giving it all up. Changing how we perceive this busyness takes courage and the support of an alternative community that celebrates a different equation of “worthy living”.
Exercises & Questions
October 2017 – Healing
That Does It Mean To Be A Community of Healing? The easy answer: it takes work – a dedication and a willingness to dig in – to fix what’s been broken, to listen away each others’ pain, to ask for and to offer forgiveness when we are not the good people we so want to be. So yes, it is easy to remember that it takes work. But what if we remembered that healing always begins with perception and sight? Let us begin to reframe to open our hearts to healing.
Exercises & Questions
September 2017 – Invitation
Invitation calls us to make space, to create an openness that welcomes someone, or some idea, in. How do we cultivate such a space, in our physical landscapes and in our hearts and minds? What practices do we need to engage to open ourselves up to what is offered to us, and to offer space to another? We invite you to engage with all the aspects of invitation in this month of new beginnings.