What Does It Mean To Be A People of Vision?

There’s one quote we all need to remember this month. The author is unknown, but they’ve given us a great gift. Here it is:

“What will mess you up most in life is the picture in your head of how it is supposed to be.”

It’s not the place one usually starts when it comes to the topic of vision. Most often, conversations about vision tell us to hold on tightly to our pictures of how it is supposed to be, not be suspicious of them. We’re encouraged to “stay true to your vision.” We’re told, “Without vision, the people perish.” We’re warned that without a clear vision, we’re vulnerable to whatever winds blow. And let’s be clear: all of that is true. A clear vision anchors us. It gives us direction and hope. It is, indeed, a precious thing to which we should hold fast.

But as our quote of the month makes clear, all that holding fast is also dangerous. In short, no vision is perfect. They are all flawed and limited. Every vision distorts even as it clarifies. On top of that, life changes. Some doors close, new ones open. If you stay true to the vision of what’s behind that closed door, you’ll just end up spending your life banging your head against the wall. And as Unitarian Universalists, we also know that one vision isn’t enough. As clear as our perspectives may be, we all know by now that none is complete. To see the entire view, we need everyone’s vantage point.

So clearly being a people of vision is hard work. Knowing when to stay true to your vision and when to let go is a very tricky task. Figuring out when to keep your vision front and center and when to de-center it and make room for others intimidates the best of us.

Yet, here’s the thing. If danger and hard work dominate the tone of this month, we will have done ourselves a disservice. Besides being dangerous, holding tightly to one single vision is also just no fun! We don’t just have to see things from others’ points of view; we get to see things from others’ points of view! Learning about the visions of others isn’t just a way of making up for your flawed perspective. It’s also an invitation to see the world anew! And while having to let go of precious visions and dreams is painful, it’s also exhilarating to evolve and grow.

And maybe that’s the most important vision of all this month. Not that of a stern-faced people sticking to their single vision through thick and thin. But that of playful people exchanging visions and helping each other encounter new and larger worlds. A people who don’t just ask each other “Are you staying true to your vision?” but who also say with a smile, “What new vision is calling to you?”

Excerpt from Soul Matters curriculum