Worship Script 1
Worship Script (1 of 5)
Desire As Our Guide
"Whatever The Need" by Albert F Ciarcia
Whatever the need that brings you to this special place and hour, know most surely that it is best served through eager receptivity of mind and heart.
If it be to take a firmer step toward the lifting horizon of high thought; if it be a desire to give assistance to feelings that should range and are true; if it be to challenge the way of your life; if it be to find your place as part of a caring and serving community; -- then let your mind consider well what is here thoughtfully given, then let your heart accept freely what is here lovingly shared.
HYMN #112 Do You Hear?
A Quote about prayer by UU Minister Arvid Straube, founding the the Coming of Age Handbook
The fact is that prayer is the most simple, natural thing in the world. The only problem with prayer is to take away all the attitudes and preconceptions that keep us from prayer. I've come to think that prayer is simply being in touch with the most honest deepest desires of the heart . . . in quiet, and in as much trust as we can muster, with as much honesty as we can possibly find. That's all. Prayers pray themselves.
Excerpts in Book VI: The Many Wines by Rumi
with others doing inner works. Find the wine most suitable for you. God has given us
a dark wine so potent that, drinking it, we leave the two worlds. [...]
God has made sleep so that it erases
every thought. God made Marjun love Layla so much that just her dog would cause confusion.
as him. Don’t think all ecstasies are the same. Jesus was lost in love for God. His donkey
was drunk with barley. Drink from the presence of the saints, not those other jars.
every object, every being, is a jar full of delight. Be a connoisseur and taste
with caution. Any wine will get you high. Judge like a king. Chose the purest,
the ones unadultered with fear or some urgency about “what’s needed”. Drink
the wine that moves you as a camel moves when it’s been united, and is just ambling
about. When the tendency of two friends is toward spirit, toward the heart, they go,
like wind and flame, upward together.
HYMN #20 Be Thou My Vision
STORY FOR ALL AGES
The Dervish in the Dessert
This story is found in a number of sources, including From Once Upon a Time... Storytelling to Teach Character and Prevent Bullying by Elisa Davy Pearmain; Doorways to the Soul: 52 Wisdom Tales from Around the World, edited by Elisa Pearmain (Pilgrim Press)
Once upon a time, in a land to the east, a Dervish holy man and his student were walking from one village to the next. Suddenly they saw a great huge cloud of dust rising in the distance. They stood and stared at a grand carriage, pulled by six horses approaching at a full gallop. Riding on top were two liveries dressed in red, each holding a rein. The Dervish and the young student soon realized that the carriage was not going to slow down, let alone veer to the side to avoid hitting them. The carriage was coming at such a speed that they had to throw themselves from the road and jump into a ditch to save themselves. Covered with dirt and grass, the two men got up. They looked after the carriage as it sped away into the distance.
The student was first to respond. He began to call out and curse the drivers. But the teacher ran ahead of him, cupped his hands over his mouth, and called to the carriage: "May all of your deepest desires be satisfied!"
The student stared at his teacher and asked, "Why would you wish that their deepest desires be satisfied? Those men nearly killed us!"
The old Dervish replied, "Do you think all their deepest desires are satisfied? If they were happy, would they be so thoughtless and cruel as to nearly run down an old man and his student?"
The younger man had no answer, for he was deep in thought. And so, in silence, the two continued their journey down the dusty road.
“Speaks From Within the Heart and Soul” by Philip Larson
O Thou whose voice speaks from within the heart and soul of all, help us to be still, calm, silent, and thoughtful.
We desire to listen, to learn and to meditate in such a way that our lives will grow in a new depth of wisdom and understanding.
May our thoughts lead us to better lives in thy sight and in the sight of all peoples. Amen.
CANDLES OF JOY AND CONCERN
Those who are so moved are now invited to come forward to light a candle, expressing a joy or concern in their lives. As you do, you may briefly share what it is. We ask that people coming forward speak for no more than a sentence or two, and speak from the heart about issues in their lives, rather than political issues, which we can take up at coffee hour or in the parking lot.
Desire by Darcey Laine
What do you want? If I had a magic wand and could give you your heart’s desire, right now, what would it be? This is actually a hard question for most of us. Even if you are healthy, if you have food to eat and a warm safe place to sleep at night, there is still a sense of wanting, of a desire for something more that haunts us human beings. There is a hunger in our hearts asking us for…what? When I began my training as a spiritual director some years back, I thought of spiritual practice as something I should do. If it seemed dry and boring, that was only as I expected it should be. Imagine my surprise when our teachers suggested we set aside those “shoulds” and instead follow our desire. Now as a UU I was raised to believe that each of us has inner wisdom that we should follow. But as human beings living in community, we all get the message, probably many times a day, that we should set aside our desires in order to fulfill our obligations to one another. Remember when you were little and wanted to be a ballerina, a pilot, a professional baseball player, a fire fighter? We are taught from a young age that to be a responsible adult we must set those desires and dreams aside and do something practical.
It’s not just our big desires we are taught to ignore, but he little ones too—your body wants to run outside on a beautiful spring day? Ignore that—you are at a business meeting. You want to doodle during the long boring sermon? Ignore that—someone might see and think you were rude. You want to paint your house pink? What would people think?! After a while, we learn to ignore the voice of desire, and it learns to be quiet so well that when someone asks “What do you want?” that part of us that used to know so clearly that you wanted to be a singer and live in a treehouse with your best friend, doesn’t even bother to answers.
When folks come to me for spiritual direction they often confess, perhaps with some guilt or defensiveness, that they don’t have a regular spiritual practice. Why not? Because it would be boring and dry and they don’t have time for it anyway. But most people do have something that makes them come alive, that restores them when they are drained: an afternoon sailing, walking through the woods, an evening by the fire with family, or even just pausing to wonder at a beautiful bird.
How would you feel if I suggested that following your desire in these ways is a spiritual practice?
What if we believed, with UU minister Arvid Straube, that “Prayer is simply being in touch with the most honest, deepest, desires of the heart.”
To do that we might have to re-examine our assumptions about who God is and what spiritual practice is. I think maybe our puritan ancestors left us with the assumption that anything that feels good is probably bad for us. We suspect that God likes for us to be uncomfortable and bored. After all, church is often boring, so that probably means God prefers us that way. Our desires are temptations that keep us from stoically doing what we are supposed to do.
On the other hand, in some religious traditions that feeling of desire is an invitation … an invitation to move into deeper relationship with oneself and with the oneness of all that is. What if our deepest desires come from the divine, and lead us back to the divine? Is this some new Unitarian blasphemy? Actually, St. Augustine, early church theologian, bishop and church father, described this kind of desire: “restless is the heart until it rest in thee.” He believes that we long for a closer relationship with the divine, that we all have a kind of spiritual hunger built in, and that we feel restless all our lives as we try to move into closer and closer relationship with the Spirit of Life. This holy desire is found in the words of mystics of many faiths. For example, the Sufi poet Rumi writes: “I once had a thousand desires. But in my one desire to know you all else melted away.”
But, says Bob Kimball, who was my theology professor in seminary:
for many the desire becomes lost, or at least hidden or covered over, or perhaps so frightening it is as if lost. However it happens, many people lose touch with a request which is their own. They give up a want which is their right. They may even become comfortable living without this depth of themselves. But this inner realm of request does not disappear and the restlessness can only be covered at a cost.
The Jungians would agree, suggesting that our addictions and neuroses are, in fact, the cost of ignoring or trying to drown out the restless desire for our truest deepest self, the self that is connected intimately to the web of life, to the divine.
When we ask that question What do you want? what we usually mean is What do you want to consume? What do you want to eat, smoke, drink or buy? I’ve noticed that car commercials are particularly clever at this, articulating our deepest hungers and then implying that a cool new car will finally fill that hunger in our heart. Anyone who has struggled with addiction knows that that next drink will not cure the restlessness of our hearts. The best it can do is numb the pain for a short time, and then we crave another drink.
I use the word “craving” for those things which don’t feed us deeply, but only give us momentary relief and then leave us just as hungry and empty as we were before we had that first drink, or that first cookie.
I like to use the word desire for those deep hungers that come from our inner wisdom, that come from the spirit of life, and call us toward the journey into ourselves, call us toward connection with others and with something larger than ourselves. If what we crave is a cookie, then what we desire might be sitting down to a home-cooked dinner—with real proteins and fiber and vitamins and minerals. While we may crave a cup of coffee when we are tired, what we really desire is a good night’s rest.
Our cravings and desires are easily confused. We have this restlessness in our hearts, and we try all kinds of things to pacify that restlessness. Even healthy things like work can lead our restless hearts in the wrong direction. People work 60 hour weeks so they don’t have time to listen to their empty hearts. Sometimes doing good and noble things can help us feed our souls, but the same actions can also leave us just as empty and restless as before. How can you tell the difference? Only paying attention and listening to our inner wisdom can help us discern. When you put down your work, how does your heart feel? Do you feel like a ship without an anchor, or grounded like an old oak tree? Do you feel closer to your deepest self or do you feel scared to peek into your heart because you are afraid of what you’ll find there?
Rumi writes about this very dilemma: how do we differentiate our desire for union with something larger than ourselves from our cravings and bad habits?
There are thousands of wines
that can take over our minds.
Don’t think all ecstasies
are the same!
Jesus was lost in his love for God.
His donkey was drunk with barley…
Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,
the ones unadulterated with fear,
or some urgency about “what’s needed.”
Drink the wine that moves you
as a camel moves when it’s been untied,
and is just ambling about.
This discerning is one of the most important parts of the spiritual journey—discerning which desires are leading us towards health, towards something larger than ourselves, and which desires trap us. Rumi gives us some hints here, suggesting we “choose the [desires] unadulterated with fear or some urgency about ‘what’s needed.’” Truly, this advice is so hard for us responsible adults; there is so much that needs to be done to feed our family, to save the world. It can be challenging to hear our own desires over the urgent din of “what’s needed.” Rumi goes on: “Drink the wine that moves you as a camel moves when it’s been untied and is just ambling about.” That’s almost shocking to hear—a religious mystic comparing following our desire for the ineffable with an aimlessly wandering camel? In this culture we value our worth by how productive we are. How could “ambling” be a sacred act? When a camel is first set loose I imagine—not having known camels personally—that after being tethered so long by those they work for, at first they are not quite sure what to do. I imagine the camel kind of wandering this way and that, following a smell here, eating a tuft of grass there: exploring his freedom. And I believe freedom is a critical part of the spiritual journey.
Likewise, we know there are cravings which lead us away from freedom. We moderns call these addictions. By definition they tether us and limit us as we shape our lives around their fulfillment. So one way to approach spiritual practice is simply to untether ourselves for a while—to amble in the woods, to let the mind wander and just notice where it goes, to pick up a pen and see what comes out.
That can be a lot harder than it sounds. Sometimes when we do take a moment to try some spiritual practice, our heart might wail like a baby crying out for milk. We are so hungry for real nourishment that the cries of our spirit can be as disturbing as the bawling of a hungry infant. We would do almost anything to make it stop, and maybe a new car or a pint of ice cream would mute it for a while. But if we care about the health of the soul, it’s not enough to simply turn off the baby monitor so we don’t have to hear the cry; we need to figure out how to feed that deep need.
To reacquaint ourselves with our own deepest desires, we have to first acknowledge that we are hungry. We have to feel some unpleasant emotions. Sometimes admitting what we really desire is hard because getting it seems impossible. I want inner peace. I want justice for all people. I want to create something beautiful. I want to be part of something larger than myself. And most brazen of all, I want to experience my oneness with everything. When the world assures us that getting drunk is a far more reasonable and realistic response to our hunger, one of the most important jobs of religious community is to help us get in touch with the most honest, deepest, desires of the heart.
HYMN #391 Voice Still and Small
By Chaim Stern, #245 in Lifting Our Voices
What do I want?
And if I want it do I need it?
And if I need it will I get it?
And if I get it can I keep it?
To the answers depend on who I am?
Help me to be what I am becoming ...
Is that” becoming” more than I am right now?
Help me to trust the dawning hour.
Help me to know myself better.
Help me to become myself.