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Sharing personal stories

Religious odysseys
By Tom Stites
January/February 2005 1.1.05

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Lots of Unitarian Universalists write well and all of us have interesting stories to tell about our religious lives. So my editorial colleagues and I have been brainstorming about how to get more readers' stories into the magazine. Perhaps you can help—and get published in the process.

Later this year we will be adding several new kinds of stories to the magazine, including two that can come only from you: personal religious odysseys, and reports about experiences telling non-UUs about our religion in ways that succeeded in getting their interest. Stories like these arrive unsolicited from time to time, and we figure that if we solicit them we ought to be able to run one in every issue.

In recent years many Unitarian Universalist congregations have made a practice of asking members and friends to share their personal religious journeys in services or in special forums, with gratifying results: People get to know their fellow parishioners in deeper ways by hearing their heartfelt stories of religious experiences that are often very different from their own. I have been present to hear people's stories and in the process sometimes found validity in paths I'd spurned, sometimes learned new ways of pushing my own path forward, and always came away moved by the challenges people face and the ways they grow in response. The more odysseys the better, and we want to offer them to you in these pages.

If you would like to offer your religious odyssey for publication, please submit it by mail to Odysseys, UU World, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108. Stories of the young as well as long-time UUs are welcome. Please focus on how you came to be a UU, a pivotal moment when your commitment deepened, or some other transformational moment in your life. Please limit your submission to 650 words—our space is limited. And please tell us what church or fellowship you attend and whether it invites members to share odysseys in services or in other ways.

If you have an anecdote to share about seizing the opportunity to help someone who didn't know about Unitarian Universalism get to know about us, we'd like to hear from you how you did it. Many of us are reticent to talk about Unitarian Universalism, yet feel proud of our faith and wish we had role models. Please be sure to tell how the conversation turned to Unitarian Universalism and include what you said about our faith that got through to the person you were talking with. Confine your anecdote to 450 words and mail it to Sharing, at the UU World address above.

Please know that even if your story doesn't make it to print, it will be helpful to us. As a bimonthly we will be able to print only six of each kind of new story a year, and chances are that we'll get more submissions than that. But we may find trends and patterns in the submissions that suggest feature articles—and perhaps other refinements to the magazine. So all submissions are meaningful.

If you're interested in suggesting other kinds of articles or submitting an unsolicited piece, please check out our submission guidelines. Thanks for thinking with us!

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