Opening Words from Sun. February 4 by Amelia Wood

A year ago, I found myself sitting on my couch on a Sunday morning, happily separated from my old religion, but missing the ritual and the community. I was aware of the Ethical Society and had a vague notion of what it was about; I figured it couldn’t hurt to drop in and see how it felt. In the span of a single morning and afternoon, I found a new home and met some of my best friends.

In Humanism, I found a new sense of hope. You see, I spent the first three decades of my life believing that a messiah would be arriving imminently to remedy all that was broken in the world. Everything seemed hopeless otherwise. Reckoning with my new awareness that no messiah was forthcoming, I was tempted to despair. But here, we have a philosophy of human responsibility. Rather than succumb to nihilism, I am empowered by the knowledge that fixing this mess is up to me.

But I can’t do it alone. It’s up to us. Only intentional community, working together towards a common goal, can hold back the darkness.

What exactly is that goal? What does it matter that we gather? What is our community doing to make everything ok in the world? None of us can answer those questions alone, but the good news is that we get to discover the answers together.

One important thing that this community does well is being welcoming and inclusive, though I acknowledge there are many ways that we fall short. But when my whole world went topsy-turvy, you were here to help me regain my balance.

Those of you who have known me since I first started attending may have noticed a few “small” changes in me since then. You know, just my gender, my name, little things….

As I have flowered into my true self, you have supported me the whole way and have given me space to determine for myself who I was. This stands in stark contrast to so many of the other communities whose buildings seem to stand on every street corner in our country. In too many of those places, our role is defined at birth, regardless of how well it fits us.

For more than thirty years, I did my best to act out the role assigned to me. I did a very good job of it, but I could never shake the feeling that there was something else, some other, better life waiting for me.

I have spent the last year building that life for myself, and I could not have known how much better it would be. For the first time, I wake up every day glad to be alive. For the first time, I truly love the person looking back at me in the mirror. My hope is that we can help others feel the same.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.