A public friend, a member of the clergy from another religion, once kidded with me that Unitarian Universalists must have it easy around the holidays—we don’t believe in anything! “Not true,” I cried, “Not true.” I have some things which I believe! I believe that the human species, across the millennia and across the continents, has made sense of our existence through creativity. Cave paintings and enduring sculpture and even the re-shaping of the Earth itself have been ways by which we figure human life— our human life—as important. We matter.

There also have been ways by which we imagine something greater than the very human lives we live. And so human creativity has given us religion in many forms. This sense of something greater than us, that matters, too.

This pluralist vision of religion as a reflection of human potential is a way by which I might grow through my experience of the religions of the world. I appreciate the ways humans have marked differently our shared experience of the spring time of each year. Some tell a story of a people being liberated from oppression in the Passover celebration. Others claim the certainty of victory after deep struggle in the Easter story. Our neo-Pagan friends love the mystery in the story of a Goddess who turns a bird into a hare that can still produce eggs and other signs of fertility. Hindu friends celebrate the demise of a demoness, the purging of evil and the triumph of the good in bonfires and the sharing of color in Holi.

Unitarian Universalists—even a humanist like me—may see in these other religions a more complete sense of what it means to be human than I might find in a purely rational faith like the one we cultivate. I stood in awe, a few months ago, to observe a puja in a Hindu temple. I wept during Yom Kippur when the congregational president of the synagogue where I was singing walked among the people carrying a Torah scroll of special value to that community. I felt my heart nearly break when the gothi/ priest chanted and clanged together a shovel and a sword in a Norse reenactment ritual of the protection of the home.

I, myself, could never function as a priest in these settings. I don’t have the training, I don’t hold the beliefs, I have not received ritual transmission in any of these human endeavors. But my pluralist religious bent—my religious humanism—allows me to treasure the happiness that others find in their religious expression. And I hope that my Unitarian Universalism encourages me to say “You go!” to folk who are on their own religious path, who are engaged in what we call “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning” in their lives.

It is springtime, friend, and the human family is crying out with many voices to celebrate the joy of the return of birds and reappearance of hibernating animals, the bursting forth of seeds into seedlings and all the possibilities for something new as we plant and nurture and find ways to show Mother Nature a little love. And celebrate so, so many holidays. Whatever we might believe.

Yours in a faith that is liberal and liberating,
Rev. David Carl Olson Associate Minister for Congregational Life