Ann Cunningham

I’ve been a member of this UU church since 2011. My connection to Unitarian Universalism, and to this church in particular, has had a deep influence on my spiritual life, on my personal understanding of death as part of life, and the power of prayer.

The interconnected web of all existence, our 7th principle, is the one that stood out from the rest for me. Growing up Catholic, I was familiar with the other principles as goals to lead a good, hopeful, and loving life. I am, though, happy to say, that it’s been 35 years since my last confession.

“Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”…At first I was a bit uncomfortable with the wording and questioned the meaning. It was a little out of my comfort zone. As it turned out, the imagery that principle offered was the source for my ability to form my current understanding of death as part of life, and the power of prayer.

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma 8 years ago. Miraculously, I continue to live with this disease, I’m still roaming this earth, as sadly many others I have come to know have died.

I have been a long time member of The Melanoma Foundation of New England, and of the monthly support group held at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Over the years, my broadened and deepened belief in our universal connectedness has brought me peace.

Life and death for me are separated by a shining, shallow, beautiful river. We are on this side, and those who have died are on the other. Having this natural imagery supports my understanding and gives me great comfort in feeling we and all are in this together, forever, without boundaries.

How I pray has developed and deepened in a conscious way through my connection to this church. Through listening here, singing the words to our music together, our meditative time together here, I can say “I’m praying for you”, and really mean it. I feel it when you and others pray for me.

Again, being a visual person, I created an image of my forehead touching the forehead of the person I’m praying for. Words may or may not be involved. Being able to pray in a way that feels real to me is gratifying. I feel grateful and empowered when I see the understanding in someone’s eyes when I say “I’m praying for you”. And I am grateful when you pray for me.

And so, thanks to all of you for influencing my life in such a positive, meaningful, uplifting way.