Most recently, I began to attend services with my local UU (Unitarian Universalist) Fellowship again. It had been quite some time since I had last been there due to conflicts with my schedule.
The first week I had the pleasure and privilege to catch the beginning of a new central theme for the month, that of ‘beloved community’.
One of the readings really struck a chord with me, and I guess you could say that it was the catalyst that spurred me to dust off this blog and get out of my own way with my ‘storytelling’.
I will not share the ‘sermon’ in its entirety. I believe it’s too long to do so. If, however, you would like to read the whole thing, I’ll provide the link here. It’s called We Drink From Wells We Did Not Dig and was written by Rev. Kirk Loadman-Copeland.
Several pieces really just resonated with me…
We cannot create a beloved community until we have created a community, and we cannot create a community, which is larger than the circle of a family or extended kinship network, which is larger than a tribe, until people emerge who have chosen to live beyond themselves; who have some notion of the common good and work to broaden and deepen that goodness; who have learned how to engage the stranger as a neighbor, realizing that absolutely everyone is at first a stranger; and who invite others to live beyond themselves. We drink from wells we did not dig because others lived beyond themselves.
The other morning, when I published A Spiritual Conspiracy: Our ‘Sleeper Cell’ Awakens it occurred to me…
Because I decided to ‘live beyond’ myself, because Sara and Kelly at 2sisters2yogamats and Sarah at Super Empath, and because we have connected… We are the beginning of a community, an authentic, beloved community.
And, I just have to share this story which was part of the sermon because I loved it!
In the book Dare to Live Now, Bruce Larson recounts the following: “Travelers across a long and seldom used trail in the Amargosa Desert would pass an old pump that offered the only hope of fresh drinking water along their journey. Wired to the pump handle was a baking powder can and inside the can was a handwritten note: ‘This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new sucker washer into it and it ought to last five years. But the washer dries out and the pump has got to be primed. Under the white rock I buried a bottle of water out of the sun, the cork end up. There’s enough water in it to prime the pump, but not if you drink some first. Pour about one fourth and let her soak to wet the leather. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You’ll git water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. When you git watered up, fill the bottle and put it back like you found it for the next feller.’
(signed) Desert Pete.
‘p.s. Don’t go drinking up the water first. Prime the pump with it and you’ll git all you can hold.’”
Desert Pete clearly lived beyond himself, as did the people who originally dug the well, and saved others by doing so. As importantly, he instructed others to live beyond themselves. Once you have primed the pump, quenched your thirst, and filled all of your containers so that you can continue on your journey, fill the bottle of water that Desert Pete left, put the cork in it, and bury it again under the white rock so the next person will have the water necessary to prime the pump and live, rather than dying of thirst. As Pete wrote, “Have faith. The well has never run dry.”
In this growing ‘beloved’ community of honest, authentic storytellers, our ‘thirst’ is not always ‘quenched’. Our lives are not always ‘perfect’ nor do we always ‘get it right’. But, we do not portray ourselves or our lives in that light. There are days when life seemingly throws lemons at us, but still we ‘prime the pump’, still ‘live beyond ourselves’ in the hope that someone will be able to read our story and say, “me, too!” and feel a little less alone in this great big, sometimes harsh, world.
Have faith in the well. Have faith in your ability to prime the
pump and get the water to flow. Have faith that the person who came before you filled the bottle with water to prime the pump and buried it under the white rock where you will find it. Have faith and then nurture faith by refilling the bottle with water and burying it for the next stranger to find, the next stranger who automatically becomes your neighbor by the simple act of filling and burying the bottle, the next stranger whose life you save just like the Good Samaritan who lived beyond himself by caring for the injured man lying on the side of the road that others had passed by. Have faith in your ability to live beyond yourself, and have gratitude for those who have come ahead of you, the well diggers and the Desert Petes who lived beyond themselves that you might have life more abundant; the villagers who built and sustained the village once the well
Those who dig wells and those who explore the depths of the human spirit are searching for the source. They know that most of the time you must go deeper to reach it, whether it is the wellspring that fills the well or the wellspring that nourishes the soul. If you are digging by hand, it will take a long time to dig a well, a long time to go deep enough to reach the source of the water. If you are seeking to go deeper in your own life, using your heart and mind as well as your hands as the tools of exploration, it will take time and patience, courage and persistence, companionship and questioning to go deep enough to
satisfy the yearnings of your soul, to quench the thirst that
water cannot satisfy, to take you far enough beyond yourself that you become a force in creating, deepening, and expanding beloved community for yourself, to be sure, but for others as well
who will learn by your example, who will benefit by your wisdom, and who will be transformed by your compassion.
Together, we can and will dig the well. It goes much more quickly when there are many ‘doing the work’.
Are you helping to ‘prime the pump’? Are you helping to ‘dig the well’?
Are you one who ‘tells’ honest, authentic ‘tales’, sharing ‘drinks’ from your ‘well’ with the thought of helping to ‘quench the thirst’ of your neighbor?
Let’s connect and widen this growing ‘beloved community’ of ours!
Beyond Ourselves: Our Growing Beloved Community was originally published (by me) on Writing the Wild Wind (which is now defunct).