What Does It Mean to Be a Congregation of Story?

Susie Maharry, TUUC
Susie Maharry
Director of Adult Religious Exploration

Our theme this month is what does it mean to be a congregation of story? Two days ago I posted picture of myself on Facebook joyously voting for what I thought was to be the nation’s first woman president. This morning I awoke to a slightly different story. An Orange is the New Black story that has left me feeling scared, marginalized, and uncertain. In want of some comfort, I fortuitously encountered a cute little monkey wearing a tie-dyed t-shirtmonkey that someone left behind in the sanctuary, and I have been embracing them all day. Whoever you are, I hope you get your monkey back soon, but in the meantime, I’d like to thank you for sharing them with me today, on this, my first day of mourning. Of course we aren’t going to wallow in a sad story forever, but I believe we need to share our stories of grief and fear and mourning, before we can move on to strategy and action. I encourage you to gather together in your small groups with candles (or pebbles in water) and share with each other your feelings, disappointments, fears, and hopes. Let your voices be heard in circles of compassion. If you are not currently in a small group and wish to join one, please contact me at dir.are@tahomauu.com. And then when our empathy wells have been filled up, we can help others to fill their empathy wells and begin the healing work of compassion that we are called towards. And oh just imagining the amazing stories of grace and courage and justice that we will be creating in the days to come of infinite potential already brings a spark of hope to my hurting heart.

Another great place to engage in the story of community is during our Wednesday Night Adult Religious Exploration programs every week from 6:30 – 8 p.m. We recently watched a PBS Documentary about an important story of a UU Minister and his wife who went overseas to help in Nazi occupied Europe. Even though they had very young children at home and every reason in the world to stay, they went anyway. This is a remarkable story of selfless service that warms the heart. One congregant after watching this said, “We were moving to Canada if a certain candidate won the election, but after watching this, we’re staying. We will stay here and help.”

I would like to call your attention to two very interesting upcoming Wednesday Night programs on our topic of story that I am sure you won’t want to miss:

November 16 – Matters of Soul and Spirit

Join us for a monthly deep dive into our Soul Matters theme of the month, led by Ministerial Intern, Matt Aspin, and explore how the theme relates to evolving and expanding our individual and community spiritual maturity. Matt Aspin will lead a program on our monthly theme of “What Does It Mean to Be a Community of Story?” woven with the concept of “Fluency in the use of metaphor and Mitake Oyasin – the perception of Universal Connectedness ” from UU Minister, Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons’ work, “Qualities of Spiritual Maturity”.

Whether or not you participate in a monthly Chalice Circle that explores the monthly theme, or if you simply want to explore one theme more deeply, this series of ten evenings will give you an opportunity to delve into what matters to your soul and spirit. Attend any topic that intrigues you, or join us for the entire series with Matt Aspin

December 7 – The Future is Calling Us to Greatness

We each have experienced times of trouble that threaten to overwhelm our individual lives. In such times, a vision of possibility is essential. The same holds for the punctuations in history when whole societies face troubles of an immense and uncharted variety. Truly, we have arrived at such a time. Humans, unwittingly, have become a planetary force. We are changing irreversibly the very climate of our world. Henceforth, any actions we take as individuals and societies will be done in the new light of climate change. What vision will carry us forward and inspire us to work together? How shall we frame the need to shed our business-as-usual outlook on life and take on a new vision of possibility that can unite us as a species in joyful self-sacrifice and service? What vision will charge us with a sense of heroic purpose that the future is indeed calling us to greatness? Rev. Michael Dowd is the author of the bestselling, bridge-building book, Thank God for Evolution, which was endorsed by six Nobel laureates and other science luminaries, along with noted skeptics, and by religious leaders across the spectrum.

And finally, I leave you with three of my all time favorite stories. Many of you have heard them before. The good ones are told over and over again and we never tire of hearing them. That is the power of story. They comfort us, inspire us, educate us, sometimes even scare us, but a good story is guaranteed to evoke something of our shared humanity.

– Namaste,




There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “May be,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “May be,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “May be,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “May be,” said the farmer.


“First they came …”

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

A story about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group, as told in this provocative poem written by Pastor Martin Niemoller


The Story of Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all”

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed”.