Hello, and welcome to our first blog post! I’m Stacey Jackson and I’ve been going to UNA for a few years with my son. I’m on the Board and serve as the Marketing Chair.
The Marketing team at Unity North is working on creating bridges; silver threads that connect us to enhance our community. We’ve created this blog so we can get to know one another in new ways and connect, especially at a time when we can’t be together in person.
I quit college after a year. I couldn’t take the huge impersonal lecture halls and the TA that was more interested in T&A than teaching. I worked intensely at the subjects I loved, appeared in several plays where I met a famous actor whom I bested in tequila shots, and moved on.
After that, I started a clothing company that took me out to California where I went back to finish my undergraduate degree and got a master’s degree. While studying Buddhism and Ritual Theatre I came across a word that has been a touchstone for me. It’s something I’ve searched for for 20 years. The word, or principal, is communitas. What I understand about it is a deep sense of community where you are taken outside of yourself to share intense feelings of connection and commonality with one another.
The word communitas made a silver line going back through my childhood leading up to today. For me, God wasn’t inside the very formal Baptist church on Peachtree Road where the pastor wore morning tails suits (think British weddings!). God was in the breezeway as I walked in, where the walkway floated above the ground and sunlight shot through in beautiful beams that the birds cut through as they swooped by.
When I was 12, we moved to Tennessee where I began going to a cement block church with my neighbors. An exuberant hollering hallelujah, laying on of hands church. I loved it and it was the exact opposite of the one I’d grown up in.
Once I was a little older, I didn’t go to church for a long time. I went to look for God in the redwoods and Jade Beach in Big Sur. I went to castle ruins, wound my way down cobble stone streets, and stayed up debating theology in cave dwellings in Spain. I wrote plays, acted, and was a modern dancer. I went to the Hagia Sophia and crumbling temple remains in Greece where I cleaned out trash as an act of service.
Six family members passed away and I took care of my dad while he was dying of cancer while breast-feeding my son and teaching him how to walk. I lost my fiancé in a tragic car accident, escaped to a farm in the high desert on the Tecate Divide, happily remembered the childhood swing next to the fig tree in the sandy soil of Cochran, Ga. and happily forgot the abuse of my stepfather. I owned a metaphysical bookstore where I made herbal remedies, snuck into the Stanford library to do research and studied spiritualities and religions throughout time and history. I got to live dreams and love greatly, but I didn’t go back to church.
This is where communitas comes in, see. The through line.
Because then I found Unity. I found communitas; an actual community of people that love and support each other. Who sometimes struggle and don’t understand each other, but believe our differences are a source of our strength and create opportunities to learn from one another. A community bound by principals that are lived and are daily affirmations. One that honors all paths to God. A place where Christians and Buddhists sit alongside Jewish folks, Atheists, Bahai, Muslim… and we all believe that through affirmative prayer and meditation we can connect with God and create good in our lives.
When I came to Unity I was stuck. The irony of this is the class I used to teach at a small private urban college in San Francisco. It was on week seven of the syllabus: Blocked, Stuck, Empty. In this class we explored how to move through feeling like you’re at a dead end creatively, in life – you get the picture.
I kept thinking about that class. How could I have taught it and be in the spot that I was…in constant pain- diagnosed with fibromyalgia, just getting by financially and professionally, feeling, well, blocked, stuck and empty. I couldn’t pull myself out of it. But God could. Unity did.
After attending Unity for a little while things started to change. The messages started seeping in through the cracks which became filled with the feeling of community (communitas). People said they loved me, and I believed them. I heard Reverend Richard say, “If you’re going around telling the same story about yourself, stuck in the same narrative, we’re not going to listen to that for long because you have the power to change that story”. Well, I didn’t feel powerful right then, but I do like stories.
I volunteered every chance I could. I met wonderful people doing so that inspired me with their authenticity (Judith!) and became mentors and friends (Dawn!). I tried dropping the labels that I propped myself up with; the things that held all my “I cant’s!” in place. I can’t because I’m a single mom, I can’t because I have fibromyalgia (an all that comes with it), because I don’t have this, because I’m a survivor. So, I tried letting go of all the “I cant’s” and I didn’t fall down. In fact, I am moving a lot more freely without those limitations.
I invested in the Unity principles, for example: I create my reality through my thoughts, feelings, beliefs and faith. This is a working edge for me, but that’s the gist. I have a community around me that practices unconditional love. That listens as I work on kind but firm boundaries. That gives freedom to volunteer in a way that I’m getting to see my personal creative dreams come true. I remember my first visit where Reverend Richard’s message was, “Be careful what you wish for around here, because we’re going to help you make your dreams come true”!
I stopped feeling stuck and started feeling energized about life. I started to feel the Unity Effect: the positive changes that happen in your life when you attend Unity, engage in the community, and spend time with the principles and values.
Yesterday I asked my 10-year-old son what changes he’s seen since attending Unity. His answer: “We’re even nicer. I think you are less crabby. When someone listens to the services it is a lot to take in and learn and then when it’s over you realize something. And I can see you trying to do those things. You achieve more”.
If the Unity Effect has helped me find my way to God, my spiritual home, live a more well-feeling productive life, and my son thinks I’m less crabby; I’m all for it!
If you have ideas, would like to connect, want us to market your UNA group or event, or there is a way we can be of service to you, please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are currently seeking personal stories from our community. Send us 1,500 words or so about The Unity Effect; how being a part of Unity has changed your life for the better. We’d also love to have you write something about your area of expertise that pertains to Unity, our teachings, and principals.
If you feel like you’d do better talking about it on video instead of writing, just let us know at the email address above.