All the Freaky People

All the Freaky People
September 25th, 2016, 10:30 AM                             Rev. Fiona Heath

Today for our final song we are going to sing This Little Light of Mine, with its refrain of I’m going to let it shine.

It’s a lovely, lively song, and while we sing it often, I realize I don’t think about the words all that much.

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.  
It’s so easy to sing, but not so easy to live.

After all, it’s just a little light, this light of mine.
It’s nothing special, this core self that is me, all the things that create the   particular and unique me.
And there are so many brighter, shinier lights all around.

It’s easy to think that my light doesn’t matter, that it won’t make that much of a contribution to the overall light in the world.

And even when we gain an understanding of the light within, it can be difficult to share it with the world.

We are vulnerable in the things we care deeply for, and that makes it scary to be ourselves and let that light burst forth.
Our light is where our passion lies, where our true self is, and that can be scary.

For some of us, learning to be ourselves, to embrace ourselves, takes a lifetime to learn.

A friend of mine, in his late fifties, turned to me a couple of years ago and said “I realize how much time I have been wasting on all of my fears and anxieties.  What a waste of a living.”  
He quit his job and went back to school.    

Of course, at the other extreme are the people who are so intent on letting their own light shine that they don’t notice that they are shining it directly into other people’s eyes.
Some of us tend towards the selfish and self-absorbed, sure everyone wants to be a moth to our flame.

Letting our light shine, and shine brightly, without blinding anyone, is the trick of living well.

We don’t, as Henry David Thoreau once said, want to live “lives of quiet desperation.”  
We all want to be contented and happy, in whatever configuration that looks like for us.

We don’t want to wake up one morning and look around at our life and think “this is not who I am”.

It can be easy to get confused about what really matters to us.  

We are living at the end of the era of mass production, of big box stores, of one size fits all and the tim horton’s on every corner.
Everywhere looks pretty much like everywhere else in the culture of the mass marketing.  

The HomeSense store in Brampton isn’t much different from the one in Vancouver.  Neither is the Cineplex.  Or the Home Depot. Or any of the other places we spend so much of our lives.

Mass marketing creates a very particular and narrow definition of normal.
Normal is the middle ground where the consumers are.
Normal is what allows the big companies to earn billions.

Everywhere we look there are ads, tv shows, and facebook posts telling us what normal is and what we can buy to fit in.

And because we all want to belong, it can be hard to know if we really like Tim Horton’s coffee, or if we just think we do because we are Canadian.  

I do know I really and truly like their honey crullers.  

We can end up aspiring to be what we think everyone else is.
And we try to ignore all the parts of ourselves that don’t fit in.

Sometimes we do wake up and think “I’ve made a huge mistake. This is not who I am.”

If the things that make us feel like ourselves are not part of what is broadly considered normal, it is so hard to let our light shine.

We all want to belong somewhere.
We all want to be accepted as we are.
No one wants to be the odd one out.  

The need to belong can trump our need to be ourselves.

We hide our light under a bushel.  
We turn the dimmer to low.
Anything to avoid the light of our true self.

We forget that normal is just a construct around the idea of average, a set of qualities deemed most acceptable at any one time.

Normal is socially constructed;  what lies within its boundaries shifts with each generation.
What was considered normal 50 years ago isn’t what is considered normal now.

Some people fit well within the current definition of normal, but no one fits it perfectly.     
Normal disappears at close range. We are all atypical and quirky in some way.

Being honest about who we are, even when it’s difficult, is a good thing.
Being able to express our passions, our true interests, frees our spirits.

When we turn the dimmer switch to low, darkness spreads.
Rejecting parts of ourselves can create an unhealthy sense of self, can mean our identity gets twisted and comes out all wrong.
We diminish ourselves by blocking our light.

It takes self-compassion and courage to stop hiding and honour all the quirky sides to our being.
And there will be people that don’t understand you, and may be threatened by your truth.   
That is tough.

But there will be others who embrace you as you are.

Our first principle calls us to acknowledge the inherent worth and dignity of all people.
That includes acknowledging our own self worth, as we are, with all of our quirks, with all of our truth.

Let your little light shine brightly.


I have yet to hear a story about a person on their deathbed saying “I wish I had tried harder to be like everybody else”.

Courage and self compassion.
We need both the gentleness of a dove and the strength of a lion to be who we are.

The dove of self compassion helps us accept ourselves as we are.
Whether that is being a person who loves both knitting and the ultimate fight club.
Or whether that is being someone who struggles with anxiety.

The lion of courage allows us to tell our ultimate fight club friends about the joys of knitting a hat.
Courage helps tell the boss about the anxiety and asks for help.

When we stop trying so hard to be normal and accept just being ourselves, life gets better.   

It’s the things that make us different that make us interesting.
Many people have beautiful singing voices, but only you know whether your voice is meant for opera or hip hop.

The title for this service came from a Michael Franti song which includes the lyric “all the freaky people make the beauty of the world.”

All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.
I love the poetry of this phrase.  
Beauty lies in diversity.

I said earlier we live at the end of the era of mass marketing, where normal was the narrowly defined middle.

With the new media of on-line communications, we are entering into a time of tribes.  And tribes embrace the freaky people.

Tribes arise on-line or in person when small groups cohere around a common interest or trait or geography.

These kind of tribes are not about conformity but common threads.
Buying locally creates a tribe.
Passion for tattoo art creates a tribe.
People can belong to multiple tribes.

Tribes are a return to a healthy diversity of life.
Nature flourishes where multiple species thrive.
Life flourishes when all kinds of people can live in all kinds of ways.

All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.

Embracing your inner freak is a way to move away from the monolith of normal, towards a small scale well lived life.

I’m grateful for the growing acceptance of difference.
I believe it is healthy, expanding the definition of normal from that tightly centred bell curve to a softer, wider curve that encompasses more variation.

When normal expands, more people can be accepted for who they are.
And normal develops into something richer and more complex.
Acceptance and understanding grow deeper.    

As Unitarian Universalists, our third principle calls us to accept one another and encourage spiritual growth.  

The fourth principle affirms the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

We can’t accept one another if we don’t accept ourselves.
We can’t find truth and meaning beyond us if we don’t see the truth within.

This chalice community is a place to come and explore and accept who we are.  
To see where we are true to ourselves and where we still need a little work.
The light of the chalice calls to the light within us.

We are all better off when each of us lets our freak flag fly – when rather than try to conform to some norm we embrace who we are.

This isn’t about using that freak flag as a weapon, or indulging ourselves at the expense of others.  Caring about our impact on other people matters.

But if we care too much about what other people think, we stop ourselves from raising that freak flag high.

In geek and millennial culture, this is known as embracing your weirdness.
In other words, “be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Embracing our weirdness helps create the conditions of happiness.
Our well being improves when we get to choose what is important to us.
Happiness emerges when we are free to express that choice.

It can be hard, it can sometimes be hurtful to those we love.  
And it can also be lonely at first.  None of my friends in high school loved Star Wars the way I did.
But there are always others that share your identity.  And the internet can help you find them.

Nowadays I know that whatever tv show I currently adore, I can find people who share my obsession.  

Actor Felicia Day says “My weirdness turned into the greatest strength in my life.”  By embracing the geeky, gaming side of herself, she was inspired to create one of the first on-line web series, The Guild.

Day says, "Embrace your weirdness, because that's what makes you special in life … from my experience…there will always be somebody there to shame something about you – no matter what it is…

The only thing you can do in this world is really accept who you are, and then the people who you need around will be there for you."

Finding the compassion and courage to accept ourselves can take time.
Letting our freak flag fly, embracing our weirdness, seeing ourselves whole,
this is good work.

It is the work of Unitarian Universalism – we affirm, over and over again, our inherent worth and dignity, acceptance of one another, the search for truth and meaning.

May we have the courage and compassion to be ourselves.
All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.

So say we All!



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