Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of Northern Chautauqua

companionship on life's sacred journey

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
— Ernest Hemingway

Message From Our Minister

From the Heart

“Life is not a journey,” says Alan Watts. Watts goes on to explain that our lives are more like participation in a dance, or music. The point of the dance is not to get to the end, but rather to engage as smoothly and joyfully as we can in the dance. The same is true with music.

And in response I stammer: “but, but, but…” I know there are lots of things we need to do in life that feel unjoyous and unmusical – certainly they do not feel like dancing. And there are evil forces in the world; how can they be part of the music?

When I reflect on this, I see the deeper truth lies with Alan Watts. The mood of a journey is often one of delayed gratification, and finding ways to get to the destination more rapidly. Music calls us into a different mood, a mood where attention to present experience is paramount. And this attentive, here and now mood is fundamentally a happier, healthier place to be.

Of course we will go on journeys in our lives, both actual and metaphorical. The process of our formal education comes to mind. Looking back, I now understand my formal education as a process of widening my understanding of the world around me. I was learning, and still am learning, how to enjoy the music, and how to make a more skillful contribution to the music. Some of the learning steps are not fun, and I recognize these steps as necessary so I can get to the place I want to be.

But this journey of learning is not the goal. If there is a goal to life, it is to live joyously and wisely, in presence of all the pleasure and suffering that life brings.

I hope and pray our congregation will continue to be a community where we enjoy and participate in music-making, and a community where we are learning to live with more wisdom.

May it ever be so.
Reverend George Buchanan