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Ministerial Musings: February's Pastoral Letter from Rev. Stefanie

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

This month’s Soul Matters theme is Love. Given the loneliness, grief, and rage that so many of us carry these days, it feels important to affirm that it can be hard to connect with this theme - particularly with the overemphasis on “romantic love” promoted through the commercialization of Valentine’s Day.

It can help to consider that love is a timeless, complex, deeply personal, societally influenced, multifaceted, universal experience and yearning. Our understandings of it and ability to experience and share it can and must EVOLVE!

Here’s an example: the Golden Rule (first mentioned in Confucian texts of 5th century BCE and then appearing in Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian religious texts) revolutionized human interactions by asking folks to: “do unto others as you would wish done unto you”; to not hold double standards that disadvantage others.

More recently, driven by increased attentiveness to social inequities, there’s a movement to decentralize our own wishes in favor of what others will more readily perceive as caring respect and even love. It’s called The “Platinum Rule” (developed by Dave Kerpen): “do unto others what they wish to be done unto them.”

This change arose from a growing awareness that, as lovely as it can be to know what it is we value and to offer that to one another, it is more just and more effective to centralize others’ needs and desires - allowing their experiences and needs to guide the actions we take on behalf of love.

The Platinum Rule asks that we allow love to make us curious about the ways in which our experiences, needs, and desires may differ and/or intersect; that we risk sharing those insights with one another, listening deeply, setting aside assumptions and habits. (This is exactly the kind of approach required when we form and live with our covenants).

The Platinum Rule also invites us to make room for the discomfort that can come with power differentials, or with occasionally missing the mark and having to negotiate the restoration of strained or fractured relationships. Or having to live with those situations where that just isn’t possible.

Engaging in this way is how we make our commitment to love tangible.

The take home message? Love is not simple or easy! There’s far more to it than the romance industry would have us believe. And, life is given meaning precisely through our willingness, every day, with every encounter, to learn how best and most responsibly to receive it and to give it.

I’m so moved to be in a community committed to human diversity, and to spiritual and social evolution. And, to now be in covenanted partnership with UUSM’s newly contracted Worship Life Minister, Tovis Page. (Please take a look at the Covenant we formed to guide our time together at UUSM.)

We explored more aspects of LOVE at the Sunday Feb. 19th Sharing Circle – particularly related to the “languages of love.” Next month, on March 5th, we’ll see what “vulnerability” has to do with it. Please grab a snack after the service and join us in Beck Hall at noon. See you then!

In Awe & Gratitude, Rev Stefanie


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