Minister’s Mind: Renewal

What does “renewal” mean? It’s pretty simple in some ways and not simple at all in others. The prefix “re-” means “again.”  So “renew” means “new again.” Which means our task for October is to return to newness.  Simple, but not.

Maybe we need to think for a moment about what it is like to be “new.” Over the course of the history of advertising, we’ve learned that “NEW!” is the single most effective word to put on packaging to get buyers’ attention. We like things that are new. We’ve conflated “new” with “improved” so much that people wait for hours, even days for the newest gadget, even though the one they already own works fine.

But newness, in this case, isn’t about things. It’s about what our Unitarian Universalist first source calls “a renewal of spirit.” What does it mean to be renewed as a person? To feel new again? For me, it’s about breaking through the boredom, malaise, and apathy that comes from routine. When things are new, they seem more fascinating, more colorful, more interesting. To be renewed is, for me, to be brought back to that place where my day, my life, and my calling seem new.

I think of our hymn, Wake Now My Senses, and how it expresses the desire for one’s senses, reason, compassion, conscience, and vision to awaken, so that we can be freshly empowered to do what we can to make this life better.  I also think of many other pieces of music and works of art that help me stop, break the habits of routine, and connect anew to the meaning of my life. Here is another song that may inspire you to feel renewed, like it does me: “Bird Song” performed by the Wailin’ Jennys. (lyrics below the video:)  And here is a link to this month’s packet. Be sure to read through it for lots of ideas on how to practice renewal.

“Bird Song”

I hear a bird chirping, up in the sky
I’d like to be free like that spread my wings so high

I see the river flowing water running by
I’d like to be that river, see what I might find

I feel the wind a blowin’, slowly changing time
I’d like to be that wind, I’d swirl and shape the sky

I smell the flowers blooming, opening for spring
I’d like to be those flowers, open to everything

I feel the seasons change, the leaves, the snow and sun
I’d like to be those seasons, made up and undone

I taste the living earth, the seeds that grow within
I’d like to be that earth, a home where life begins

I see the moon a risin’, reaching into night
I’d like to be that moon, a knowing glowing light

I know the silence as the world begins to wake
I’d like to be that silence as the morning breaks

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