Hiya, Yesterday I took the Unitarian service in Frenchay, Bristol. My theme was The Twelve Steps, and the work of Stephanie Dowrick
Here is my sermon:
34-44m: Sermon- Lead from the Front-
Courage, Fidelity, Restraint, Generosity, Tolerance, Forgiveness- five years ago, I didnt even know these things were important
I originally came across ‘Forgiveness & Other Acts of Love’ by Stephanie Dowrick by chance. By then, I was attending 12 step meetings and was already trying to use spiritual principles to solve problems I had with relationships. S’s work has helped me hugely. I have found new ways to relate to myself and to those I love in my life.
What I now try to do, and want encourage others to do, is to use these humane virtues actively. So many of us use them only when we are forced to, as I did. For example, we learn to forgive when some great wrong has been done to us, or the feelings of anger or disappointment are very great. We practice patience at the very times when we feel impatient. We try to act kindly towards someone when we don’t much like them.
This is good, but I now realise that I can learn about and practice these virtues all of the time, and benefit greatly from this. Approach them from a position of strength and love, rather than on the back foot and from fear and desperation.
How could we take the initiative and do this, and how might it benefit us?
I can talk from my own experience here….
Courage- I have learnt that it is normal to feel fear, and that it is courageous to do very normal every day things, such as interact with others, stand up for my views and invite a friend out for a cuppa.
Fidelity- I have learnt the value of being faithful to myself. This includes staying true to my dreams for the future. I also practice fidelity to all the people in my life by showing up for them, being attentive when with them and not speaking maliciously about them.
Restraint- For me, this includes not saying unkind words to someone’s face or behind their back.
Generosity- This includes paying my way financially when I can. Above all, it involves being grateful for all that person has given to me, and all that life has gifted me, and honouring that by putting my fair share back into life.
Tolerance- This includes respecting those I find very difficult, for seeing the good and holy in those people rather than just ‘putting up’ with them
Forgiveness- I have learnt that I need to keep forgiving people in my life, just as they need to keep forgiving me.
Through therapy, I have actively sought to forgive people who’ve hurt me in the past. I had a difficult time at school, being a very shy and withdrawn kid.
So my message is that we can actively seek ways in our everyday life to express these humane virtues. I am excited that I have discovered them in my 30s, as they will bear surprising and wonderful fruits.
As a Quaker, we have a phrase ‘Live Adventurously’. I am coming to realise that for me, this means risking us these virtues.
In the past, I found human relationships difficult and puzzling. Now I relish developing them, and see them as the most important and exciting thing in life.