“We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s OK, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.”
This is a quote from a season-ending episode of Doctor Who. It was the final episode of Matt Smith’s tenure playing the 11th Doctor. For the non-geeks reading this, the premise of the show is that an alien Time Lord called “the Doctor” joins human companions to fight evil forces on Earth. The series has been around since the 1960s, and the Doctor has faced many dangers along the way. But Time Lords don’t exactly die. They “regenerate” — transforming into a new physical appearance and a somewhat altered personality. As a result, the Doctor has been played by many different actors over the years.
As regenerating, time-traveling aliens, Time Lords are pretty accepting of change. But the Doctor’s human companions often have a hard time accepting the process of regeneration. Even though it isn’t “death” as we understand it, the transformation of the Doctor comes with loss – loss of the familiar version of this person they had adventured with for so long. (Truth be told, regeneration can be hard on us fans as well. Most Doctor Who fans develop a strong attachment to whichever version of the Doctor they first encountered when they discovered the series.)
So why am I sharing this with you here? What does this have to do with our lives as Unitarian Universalists?
Well, our Soul Matters theme for the month of November is “The Path of Change.” And I’ve been thinking about what happens when a person in our life changes – when they decide to drop or take on a new role, when they adopt new behaviors, when they end or form new relationships, when they develop new ways of seeing the world. Even if these changes are seen as positive, they come with some loss. We have to relearn who this person is and who we are in relation to them.
But the spiritual path is, at its core, a path of transformation. In Unitarian Universalism, we are invited to “come as we are,” yet we are not expected to remain the same. Religious practice challenges us to grow and change as we journey together. So any healthy congregation has to create room for this “regeneration.”
How are we doing that here at Tree of Life? How are we creating space for people to experience change and remain in community? How are we re-meeting people over time, learning about who they are NOW, not just who they were when we first met them? What changes have you gone through since first coming to Tree of Life or Unitarian Universalism? When you experience change in your own life, do you know that there will still be a place for you here?
These are some of the questions I am asking myself this month as I reflect on the theme of “change.” I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation