Years ago I served as the Youth Activities Coordinator for the UUA’s Joseph Priestley District, a five-state region that included the District of Columbia. One of my roles in this position was to work closely with the District Youth Steering Committee to coordinate four Youth Cons a year. Those weekend conferences were full of joy, connection, exhaustion, deep worship experiences, creative endeavors, and, come Sunday morning, a large stack of unclaimed items. I would always announce to the gathering of participants on Sunday morning, “Check the Lost and Found even if you didn’t lose anything!” Sometimes we don’t know what we’ve lost until we find it.
Over the years I’ve heard the stories of many people’s faith journeys. I am impressed by the courage people have demonstrated in leaving the faith community of their childhood because their curiosity took them in another direction – sometimes costing them family and friends. And I’ve heard stories of people choosing another faith community when the one they were in expressed values in conflict with theirs. Often when people finally find the Unitarian Universalist faith, they breathe a big sigh of relief in finding theological kindred spirits. Often people stop with that big sigh and just breathe for a while as they recover from the traumas of past religious experiences.
Then, slowly, over time, they might begin finding things they didn’t know they lost:
- some aspect of ritual that they had let go of and now realize fills a deep yearning within them;
- a sense of something larger or greater than themselves (or within themselves) that they have yet to name — not able or ready to name it “God” because that might be too painful;
- a sense of connection in community that they thought they might not experience again, or ever.
For some Unitarian Universalists these may not be things they lost, but may find something they didn’t know they wanted or needed until some experience resonates with their soul. Some Unitarian Universalists I’ve encountered over my lifetime as a UU resist finding something that would move them from their stated beliefs; not feeling they lost anything, they aren’t looking to find anything.
Whether you are a Unitarian Universalist, part of another faith tradition, spiritual and not religious, or none of the above, what religious or spiritual insight, knowing, or experience have you found that you didn’t know you lost? Is there something you intentionally “lost” and later “found” in a new way? Are you open to finding something you didn’t know you lost?