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“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

That’s how local university professor and fellow Unitarian Universalist Randy Pausch reflected on challenges in his famous “Last Lecture.”

In art as well as in life, it’s the shadows that make the light that much brighter. Living through the challenges of life is exactly how we grow our character or, as Rev. Dave prefers to call it, it’s how we grow our soul. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt,” continued Pausch, “just how we play the hand.” Grow by rising to challenges of health or welfare or employment or relationship or even (or maybe especially) challenges of the spirit. Face challenges as a deeply spiritual task. Let these experiences clarify what you value and how you choose to live.

Where so much of the consumerist culture encourages us to avoid and pretend and mask, spiritual challenge is a call to heed Unitarian gadfly Henry David Thoreau who wrote, “However mean your life is, meet it and live it.” Not just live with it. Not just live through it. But live it. Fully. And certainly not just suck it up! But live it in a way that allows you to join others who face challenges. Live your “mean” life in solidarity and create a world of solidarity one relationship, one beloved community at a time.