Living the Questions: March 2015

Theme for March
Salvation: The Practice of Resilience

Questions for contemplation and conversation on your own,
around the dinner table, in your journal, with each other

Download 3-2015-questions


  • What is saving your life right now?
  • How have you practiced resilience in your life?
  • How are you reminded that you are beloved with inherent worth and dignity?
  • How is your own well-being, or salvation, connected to the well-being of all?



“At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself—yet also a belief in something larger than oneself. Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs… It’s possible to strengthen your inner self and your belief in yourself, to define yourself as capable and competent. It’s possible to fortify your psyche. It’s possible to develop a sense of mastery.”
Hara Estroff Marano


“There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.”
—James Baldwin



Salvation: preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss.
Salve: anything that soothes, mollifies, heals or relieves.
Salvare: to save, rescue, retrieve, deliver.
Salus: health, well-being, welfare, salvation, deliverance.
Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.



By what are you saved? And how?
Saved like a bit of string, tucked away in a drawer?
Saved like child rushed from a burning building, already singed and coughing smoke?
Or are you salvaged like a car part – the one good door when the rest is wrecked?
Do you believe me when I say you are neither salvaged or saved,
but salved, anointed by gentle hands where you are most tender?
Haven’t you seen the way snow curls down like a fresh sheet, how it covers everything, makes everything beautiful, without exception?
–Lynn Ungar


For Solitude
May you recognize in your life the presence,
power, and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone,
that your soul in its brightness and belonging connect you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
that behind the façade of your life
there is something beautiful and eternal happening.

May you learn to see your self
with the same delight,
pride, and expectation
with which God sees you in every moment.
–John O’Donohue


“In Blackwater Woods”
Look, the trees are turning
their own bodies into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shouldersof the ponds,
and every pond, no mater what its
name is, is nameless now.
Every year, everything
I have ever learned in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side is salvation,
whose meaning none of use will ever know.
To live in this world,
you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
–Mary Oliver


Finally, I gave up on obeisance,
and refused to welcome
either retribution or the tease
of sunny days.
As for the can’t-be-seen, the sum-of-all-details,
the One—oh, when it came
to salvation I was only sure
I needed to be spared
someone else’s version of it.

The small prayers I devised
had in them the hard sounds
of split and frost.

I wanted them to speak
as if it made sense to speak
to what isn’t there

in the beaconless dark.
I wanted them to startle
by how little they asked.
—Stephen Dunn



Unitarian Universalist Perspectives on Salvation and Other Words that are Difficult for Religious Liberals (Excerpt)
Alison Wohler, March 16, 2014 – Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst

It is hard, I admit, to wrap our minds around a different way of looking at the word salvation that does not conjure crosses and trinities and confessionals. Let’s look at what salvation might mean to us as Unitarian Universalists, part of the liberal religious tradition.

The Latin root for salvation is a word meaning health. Salus.
We come into these religious communities with loneliness and disconnection, lethargy and frustration, hopelessness and despair, sin and guilt, pain and fear.

We are saved with compassion, acceptance, love, respect, hope, honesty, awe and wonder, equity, freedom, community, fellowship, and reconciliation.

People often talk about “salvation by faith” and “salvation by character” or “good works,” but sometimes salvation comes purely by grace. Whether you believe it is the grace of God or the grace of a random and unearned stroke of good luck from the Universe, nevertheless grace abounds. We have all felt it.

In Unitarian Universalism we do not speak often of salvation. But we practice it.

Salvation as wholeness, reconciliation, reunion…
Salvation as limitlessly better possibility….

We are saved and salved by each other, and by Universal grace.