Slouching Toward Awareness: Deeper Discovery
Most of us understand ourselves as Americans of various ethnic backgrounds, united by landscape and laws. As is often true for each of us psychologically, the deeper our awareness of earlier origins, the more we discover how complex our identity really is, individually and collectively. The 21st century continues to co-mingle us in diversity, so it matters which lenses we use to perceive our shared national meaning.
by Jaco B. ten Hove, co-minister
Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church, Bainbridge Island & Greater Kitsap County, WA
November 25, 2012
Comin’ on winter, it is—often an introspective time, when we earthlings reflect the planet’s call to hunker down through the darker days, literally and metaphorically; when the web of creation moves more internally; when the invasive vines of our own soil maybe go dormant, too, and allow us to dig a bit inward. This is as it should be: our natures in harmony with Nature. “Wake, Now, My Senses,” even as the earth’s call is to slow down.
So I chose Awareness as an overall theme for this sermon heading into winter. But “Slouching Toward Awareness” may or may not ring any bells for you, referencing, as it does, a William Butler Yeats poem that has been formative for some of us, at least by giving lesser poets a way to work into our titles that evocatively docile word: slouch.
Like many people, Yeats was in a fiercely reflective mood after the horrors of World War I, when he crafted his poem called, “The Second Coming,” which I take to be a reality check for Christians, and meaningful to others as well. It’s always risky to excerpt from a poem, but here’s my dangerous attempt to pull out just eight lines:
- Turning and turning in the widening gyre…
- Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
- Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
- The best lack all conviction, while the worst
- Are full of passionate intensity.
- Surely some revelation is at hand;
- …And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
- Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?