This past week I read Stories in Faith - Exploring Our Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources through Wisdom Tales by Gail Forsyth-Vail.
This book focuses on sharing 19 stories from various cultures and traditions to help people develop their faith and create meaning in their lives. The stories illustrate the UU's seven Principles and six Sources as framework for the reader to reflect upon and then act on in their congregations and/or at home.
Some of the stories I was familiar with already - like The Brementown Musicians that illustrated the first Principle: the inherent worth and dignity of every person; the creation story (from the Bible) for the second Principle: justice, equity, and compassion.
There were other stories that I had not heard that I enjoyed reading like The Lion's Whisker which illustrated the fourth Principle: a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; and We Are All One which showed the seventh Principle: respect for the interdependent web of all existence.
What I learned from reading this book is that there are six sources that Unitarian Universalists draw upon:
- Direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men
- Wisdom from the world's religions
- Jewish and Christian teachings
- Humanist teachings and the guidance of reason and science
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions
I particularly enjoyed reading the following stories:
- The Christmas Truce
- Rosa Park's life
- The Mustard Seed Medicine
- Abu Kassim's Shoes
- The Green Man
Stories in Faith chose to use stories because "we are collectors and tellers of stories - about our own lives, our world, and those who came before. We find new meaning in creating and sharing stories."
What I liked about this book is that were reflections at the end of each story to think about. For example, at the end of The Brementown Musicians, the author writes, "This story is a wonderful, fun reminder of our first Principle, which affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Four animal characters are discarded for having outlived their usefulness, but they find new life with companions who value them and celebrate their uniqueness. Each is able to make a contribution to the group. And the song they sing together is just the right one to sing."
In the story "The Lion's Whisker," the author writes, " We do not always take the time necessary to nurture and support our family relationships. We can be quick to blame those we love for not responding to us as we would like them to. This story calls us to look inside ourselves for qualities that heal and nurture relationships: patience, kindness, and a willingness to truly notice and appreciate others. It affirms these qualities are present in all of us."
Another story I liked, "The Mustard Seed," shares about how "one of the bonds that unite us as human beings is the experience of mourning....The story reminds us to be intentional about learning how to respond with compassion to the grief of others."
"Abu Kassim's Shoes" shows that "when we are weighted down with self-centered behavior, not engaged with our families, communities, and the world, we suffer."
The story about Charles Darwin shared about his calling "to make his contribution to the world through his gift for the natural sciences and his love for observation and experimentation." It went on to say that the "Unitarian Universalist faith calls upon each of us to figure out how our own gifts and skills can help make the world a better place."
In the story called "Sand," the author said that "it invites us to a renewed commitment to care for our shared home on this planet and deepens our respect for that which we often take for granted. It calls us to gratitude for the independent web to which we belong."