Chalica was originally conceived in 2005 as a way to celebrate and put into intentional practice the seven principles of the Unitarian Universalist tradition – one a night – for seven nights. Chalica begins on the first Monday of December, and is marked by the lighting of a chalice each day. Gifts that reflect the principle for that particular day may be given, or you can choose to focus more on mindfulness and action.
I have prepared daily readings for Chalica this year, which individuals and families can use in their home celebrations. I encourage you to read this draft and offer any suggestions or comments you may have to improve it. I plan to record these readings and post them to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Smithton web site for all to use this year.
Day One (Monday)
Within us all burns the fire of life.
We share this common flame,
symbol of our precious being.
Each flame burns with a unique glow,
signifying the inherent worth and dignity
of every person.
Hymn 131, Love Will Guide Us, has the following lyric:
If you cannot sing like angels,
if you cannot speak before thousands,
you can give from deep within you.
You can change the world with your love.
Each of you is one of billions of humans inhabiting this planet. Billions – a scary number. But, a billion represents just a tiny fraction of the grains of sand here on earth, or snowflakes that fall every winter. And yet, each grain of sand, each snowflake is different. In every case, perhaps microscopic variations make every grain, every flake unique.
But, sand does not think. The snow crystal has no capacity to reason. The desert feels no emotion. And the blizzard cannot love.
On the other hand, each and every person thinks and has the capacity to reason. Each and every person feels and has within them the seeds of love. So, while sand has usefulness when melted into glass and the snow melts to provide life sustaining water, one would not miss a single grain, a stray flake.
Each and every person, however, has worth. Regardless of our status or our accomplishments, we impact the lives of others. In addition, each and every person possesses dignity – the right to self-determination, the right to pursue noble deeds, and the right to grant and earn respect inherent in the human soul.
On this first day of Chalica, we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Amen.
So, today, exchange gifts that honor people in your life. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are there people I don’t understand, and what can I do to bridge the divide between us?
- Are there people with whom I have disagreements, and can I work to find a common path for us to walk together?
- Is there someone I have disrespected to whom I can make amends?
- Is there someone who has helped me that deserves my special thanks?
- Is there someone in need of assistance that I can help and what can I do to help them?
Day Two (Tuesday)
- Are there local charities to which I can offer time or talents?
- Can I donate food, clothes, whatever I can afford to others in need?
- Are the people near me to whom a simple kindness would make a world of difference?
- How can I learn or participate in ways that promote justice and equity in my community?
- Can I take some time to look through a hymnal or book of reflections in order to better appreciate different points of view in our movement?
- Are there words of peace or forgiveness I can extend to a fellow Unitarian Universalist?
- Is there a unique gift or leadership role I can offer to my congregation?
- Are there events I can attend more often to show my support for our religious community?
Hymn 145, As Tranquil Streams, has the following lyrics:
Prophetic church, the future waits your liberating ministry;
Go forward in the power of love, proclaim the truth that makes us free.
A freedom that reveres the past, but trusts the dawning future more;
And bids the soul, in search of truth, adventure boldly and explore.
The list of famous Unitarian Universalist thinkers runs long and deep in every field of human inquiry. But, thought without reflection breeds vanity and false pride. And ideas without the wisdom of application allow tyrants to run unchecked and the immoral to prey on the innocent.
Unitarian Universalism stands not just for unfettered research and learning; we stand for careful consideration of consequences. The hands that splice genes can unleash monstrous outcomes and the mind capable of splitting atoms can also lay waste to cities.
Education has the power to level all inequalities in life, but only if pursued with good intent and abiding will. Only the search for knowledge and wisdom will yield the fruits of meaning. And that harvest can soothe the greatest hurt and heal the deepest wound.
On this fourth day of Chalica, we affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Amen.
So, today, exchange gifts that honor another tradition, or to honor education. Ask yourself these questions:
- Can you take time to read about, or participate in an event that celebrates another religion or tradition?
- What do you know or love that you can teach others
- What knowledge or talent have you wanted to learn and what is stopping you from doing so?
- Can you give the gift of a favorite book to someone?
So, how do we find liberation by binding ourselves repeatedly? For some, the bond is dogmatic acceptance of a common creed. For others, it is the relinquishing of certain choices and responsibilities to divine Providence.
But, Unitarian Universalists viewed themselves as working hands of Providence in the world. We seek and achieve liberation through democratic community; by finding and celebrating our common commitments with souls engaged on the same spiritual journey. In our congregations, we give voice to our beliefs, and we amplify those voices through free discourse and a pulpit that inspires without dictating.
On this fifth day of Chalica, we affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. Amen.
So, today, exchange gifts that honor democracy. Ask yourself these questions:
- What can you do to be of public service, or help those willing to serve in office?
- Can you write a letter to an elected official on a matter of importance?
- How can you help a committee in your congregation?
- Would you be willing to host a dinner or gathering to discuss an important issue, or perhaps lead a class to study a significant ethical issue?
Hymn 159, This Is My Song, has the following lyric:
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
But other lands have sunlight, too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
Nearly every religion preaches peace. And yet, our world still labors under the wraith of war, omnipresent poverty, and persistent harbingers of hate. We will never achieve peace in the world until each and every one of us finds peace within our own hearts; a peace that cannot be attained while the body hungers, limbs are shackled, and free will lies imprisoned.
- Can I find a way to volunteer with, or donate to an organization that has global influence, such as UNICEF, or Doctors Without Borders?
- Can I write a letter for Amnesty International?
- How can I help the social justice committee in my congregation to hold a fundraiser, or run an alternative gift market?
- Have I looked at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee web site recently, and updated my membership?
- How can I do more to recycle bottles, cans, and more? If I can sell my recyclables, what environmental/animal aid society would I support?
- Could I rescue an animal from a shelter?
- How can I help plan and conduct an outdoor worship service in my congregation, weather permitting?