by Rev. Amy
October’s theme is Courage
Growing up unchurched, I knew what spirituality felt like. But the first time I felt like mine fit into an existing, established way of thinking or believing was when I studied Existentialism. In the philosophy and practice of existentialism we learn that we are always in a state of becoming, that, while there is free will, life is in our own hands, and it takes work. Humans are responsible for, and agents of, the creation of what gives our lives purpose and meaning.
It all seems rather heady and big words get used, like ONTOLOGICAL, which means the study of existence–that if we can imagine something, it exists. There are many writers and philosophers who are existentialists—Rollo May, Karl Jaspers, Kierkegaard, and Chicago theologian Paul Tillich, to name a few.
When I read Tillich’s “The Courage To Be,” things fell into place for me. It is courage that drives us. We might possess intelligence or talent or even privilege, but courage is how we exist. Without the courage to simply be, to exist, nothing else matters.
It takes courage to face each day. Every day determines the purpose of our lives, not because God or government or school or anybody else tells us what to do. We have the courage within us to find purpose in our thoughts and actions, and courage to make meaning of that which happens in our lives. Courage is not just a great theme for the month but a spiritual practice for many.
Courage to be who we are is real and it promises an existence we can truly embrace as our own. You might be an existentialist and not know it!