The Kitchen: Ingredients and Sources

When I am cooking in our kitchen, which is not the best (nor the worst) organized culinary space, my body knows where to move to find various ingredients.  Pepper and chili powder, over in that spot.  Most other spices, over in another spot.  Onions, potatoes, avocados, in a different spot in different kinds of containers.  There’s a rhythm and a dance in cooking that moves me around the kitchen.  There is an unspoken language going on where certain ingredients, reposing in their special places, call to me, help me, give to me what I need to make what I hope will be a good and nourishing meal for my loves.

In Unitarian Universalism, we do a similar dance, find a similar rhythm, and at times, hear an unspoken language that helps us create, share and live a way of being in the world that we think is powerful and liberating.  Our “ingredients” are not doctrines or dogma.  We actually don’t have any beliefs or doctrines that are required of us.  Our ingredients are what we call our “Sources,” and they are six.

We currently name six Sources of wisdom, teaching and guidance that we turn to at various times, in various ways to create what we hope is nourishing for our own souls and the life of our  communities and the world.  One is the direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder.  These are the kinds of experiences that we all have had, that all human beings have which renew our spirits and open us to creativity and life.  Remember that beautiful sunset you saw?  Another source are the words and deeds of prophetic women and men.  These words and deeds challenge us to confront evil and injustice with compassion and love.  Another source is the wisdom from the world’s religions.  When considered deeply, the world’s religions help us practice ethical and spiritual lives that are progressive and inclusive.  Another source are Jewish and Christian teachings.  Through them, we respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.  Humanist teachings are another of our sources, our ingredients.  Humanist teachings encourage us both to honor human reason and science and to understand their limits.  The last of our sources are the spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions.  Native American and other Indigenous spiritualities, Wicca, Druidry, and Asatru, among many others, are traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

There’s that word “rhythm” again.  Preparing nourishment with intention for the people, the community, the world that we love, becomes a rhythm, a dance and an unspoken language that we recognize when we experience it, and we create it by drawing on all these ingredients, these Sources.  This is Unitarian Universalism.  Welcome to The Kitchen.

Bob Patrick

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