We’ve been working for two and a half weeks now to support the idea that there is something for Unitarian Universalists in the Christian practice of Lent. There is meaning in doing things intentionally, in setting aside time to contemplate big ideas, and in knowing that you are doing it in conjunction with many, many others who are part of our liberal religious movement. Being part of that opens us up to possibilities. (“Possibility” is today’s word…)
Possibility is often confused with “hope”. It is nice to think of the word as having a positive connotation; I am not generally one to discourage optimism. It is always possible, though, for things to go wrong. When I think of the word “Possibility”, I always remember my time as Boy Scout, and the motto “Be prepared”. To me, that has always been the best response to thought of possibility, and yet given the limitless possibility offered by the astounding universe in which we live, the idea of being prepared is also daunting.
So, I offer to you my personal philosophy: Be prepared to be surprised.
Never have a plan that relies too heavily on nothing going wrong. Never let disappointment turn you off from a good idea. Always plan around values, not outcomes, because you will learn things along the way that may change how you see your goals. Be eager to incorporate new information and ideas and to change the plan if call for. Be open to possibility, because it can be a blessing or a curse, mostly depending on your outlook.
We live in a universe of possibility. It seems that it might be possible to attain any goal, if you take a long enough view of things. We cannot be prepared for every possible setback, every surprise boon or blessing. What we have to be prepared for is the unfolding of new possibilities and the closure of avenues of action we had expected to be open to us. By setting our focus on our values, and letting our actions be guided by our principles, we will stand a better chance of bringing about the change we really intend than if we get tied up in specifics and details. The only thing we can count on is change, and while sometimes change feels like chaos, we need to remember that the change we seek in the world makes us agents of chaos to someone else.
Possibility is all around us, and making the best of it is sometimes tricky. Having the right perspective helps immensely, and understanding that possibility isn’t inherently positive, but that obstacles and setbacks are also inevitable. Be prepared by being open to new possibilities and willing to adapt. Then, you will see that mistakes can be transformed into lessons, and friction can become a flame. The possibilities are endless, and sometimes, all we can control is how we react to them. Be prepared for surprises.