I’m visiting family in Nebraska over the holiday. The local Unity church had a 24 hour solstice/birth celebration beginning on 12/21 at 20:12. I went for the first couple hours. It started off with a concert by percussionist Michael Fitzsimmons.
From the start there was a “heart beat” on a drum that was to continue through all 24 hours along with a drum circle in another room which begin after the concert. I had not participated in a drum circle before. I don’t really consider myself to have good rhythm. I played violin for several years and I can count and keep time but when it comes to something like clapping or percussion, eh, not so much. Because my motto for the last 7 years has been to be brave and stretch my comfort zone, I decided to join in. There were several instruments available. I initially used a tambourine and later short bamboo stick that had several shell type things tied to it. It sounded like a little like rain drops when shook. I latched on to someone else’s beat and focused on matching their pace until I felt comfortable enough to vary it a bit.
The focus required for this experience, enabled me to be fully immersed in the moment. This, I feel, is the heart of any spiritual experience. I let go of worry about “messing up” and ruminations that had been occupying my mind of late. I noticed how I felt the vibrations of the beats. I felt my breathing slow slightly. I noticed the transitions as someone would alter their pace and others would in turn. At times that evening I felt the “burning” so often referred to as the confirmation of the Spirit in LDS nomenclature.
Last Sunday I went to Unity again with a friend who attends there and we had lunch afterward. I have been to multiple Unity services and almost always enjoyed them. This one was no exception. One of my favorite parts is the unconventional music choices. The prelude music was “Christmas Time is Here” by Vince Guaraldi Trio. That’s the opening music to “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” We sang “Feliz Navidad” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.” The sermon was about assorted components of the story of the birth of Jesus. The pastor, a woman, emphasized at that if you come from another faith tradition to think about a way-shower from that one as the components all are similar. At the end, we all formed a circle that enveloped the chapel and held candles and sang “Let there be peace on earth” which is the closing song of every Unity service I’ve been to.
Visiting Unity helped me out a lot when I initially left the LDS church. It was there I learned to see most scriptures as allegories and opinion instead of mostly literal fact. It was liberating.
My mother tried to guilt me into going with her and dad last Sunday to their Lutheran mega-church but those ploys tend not to work with me. I’ve ceded too much in the past. I went with them on Christmas Eve. I’m not really a fan of the place. I went to a charismatic mega church in my mid-20s and I have a somewhat cynical view of them that keeps getting re-affirmed. Afterwards we went to Village Inn which has become our family tradition. The best part of Christmas occurred there – seeing a guy dressed up as Ralphie from A Christmas Story.
How awesome is that? Hope you had a pleasant holiday. Here comes 2013. I’m so ready.