The stories we share as Unitarian Universalists come from so many different sources– today, I share a story with you about a Unitarian named James Luther Adams. He was born in the early 1900s, and he was a minister and a teacher who spent a lot of time studying lots of different stories and ideas.
One of the stories that James was interested in was a story in the Hebrew scriptures about David and Goliath. David was the youngest and smallest of many brothers who lived in a land called Israel, and they lived at a time when the Philistine army was getting ready to invade, and their army included a great, big giant, named Goliath.
Now it happened that now a single soul in Israel thought that it was possible to defeat this giant–except for David. So David volunteered, as he prepared to meet the giant, he thought about what it is he would need and decided that rather than a big suit of armor, what he required was something small, something that he could keep close at hand. So he stopped at the river bed and found 5 smooth stones and put them in a pouch– and it was with these that he defeated Goliath.
This story made James Luther Adams think; he thought: even if we have never had to face actual great, big giants like Goliath, sometimes the things that face us in our lives feel like great, big giants and sometimes these things might make us feel scared. So he wondered– what 5 things do we all need to keep at our sides, as religious liberals, when we feel like the way forward is impossible? And so, he wrote about the 5 smooth stones of Liberal Religion.
Once there was a mouse who loved his home in the forest.
On warm, summer days, he would go for long walks through the woods; the canopy of the great, tall, trees providing shade from the hot sun above. In the fall, mouse would scurry through the fallen leaves along his path, listening as the leaves rustled and crunched. In the winter, mouse would occasionally venture out to listen as the trees creaked and groaned in the winter wind.
But mouse’s favorite season was springtime.
The ground that was once frozen was now soft and squishy, and tracks of friend and foe were easy to spot in the mud.
The forest floor, while still scattered with gray, soggy leaves, became spotted with little specks of green pushing through the soil.
The towering trees, whose branches were covered in buds, seemed ready to burst open at any moment. Mouse loved the trees best of all. And so every spring, mouse would wander through the woods, and stop at each great, enormous tree waking up from its long, winters nap and wonder, “how did you get here? Where did you come from? How could something so giant and magnificent just…be?”