Welcome to the Path of Vulnerability

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
                                                  ~ Wendell Berry

This month is a tricky one for us UUs. Let’s be honest. Berry’s celebration of vulnerability and limits is just not our thing. We are, after all, the religion of human potential, goodness and power! We don’t sing at impeded streams; we break through them. We don’t put up with confused minds; we keep at it until we become un-baffled. When we no longer know what to do, we just turn to each other and figure it out together.

There is something deeply inspiring about viewing ourselves so capable and strong. But there’s a shadow side too. In pursuit of being our best and most powerful selves, we often fear leaning into vulnerability. 

It becomes a problem. The thing we need to protect ourselves from.

But it is a protection that betrays.

The theologian, C.S. Lewis, gets at this in his reflection on the vulnerability of love:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to keep it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

In other words, there’s a big difference between breaking and being broken open. Yes, leaning into vulnerability is frightening. But often, it also unlocks a door, allowing grace to drift in. 

For instance, a loved one dies and, to our surprise, our hearts aren’t just crushed, they are cracked open, illuminating beauty just a little more clearly. The absence we thought would haunt us, actually unveils how deeply we loved, and how lucky we are to have loved.

Or what about when we’re finally honest about the fears and burdens we hide? In that leap of courage, we discover that telling our truths doesn’t just make us feel weak or exposed; it opens our eyes. We become able to see that others hide their pain and fear too. And with that, the faceless crowd becomes a sea of fellow travelers. All of us connected. All of us aware how much kindness is needed, even when the other’s pain is not easy to see.

It’s all about understanding that vulnerability isn’t weakness but a softer form of strength.

Remembering that isn’t easy. But it is necessary. It’s maybe our most real work, as our friend Wendell Berry would say.

– Courtesy of Soul Matters Sharing Circle  a UU theme-based ministry program

Spiritual Exercises

What’s Your Metaphor?

Take in a Vulnerable Movie

There are six movies listed in the “Movie & TV” section in the Recommended Resources. All of them explore vulnerability through a unique lens. As your exercise this month, pick at least two of the movies and watch them this month.

But here’s the catch: You first need to do some very simple research about them, such as watching a trailer or reading a review. Then based on that, pick the two that feel like they have a connection to your own experience of vulnerability. Then after watching both films, do some reflection work and figure out your personal take-away(s) from the movies. To help figure out that personal take-away(s), we encourage you to ask yourself, “How are these movies trying to offer me a word of comfort or challenge?”

Movies & TV


On the value of relationships and the vulnerability they require.

On the tender dance of parents and children showing their vulnerabilities to one another.

Mare of Easttown
On the vulnerable truth that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

On surviving in a nation that’s become hostile to ordinary citizens in need of help.

The Father
On the vulnerable path of dementia

Requiem for the American Dream
On the vulnerability created by the modern concentration of wealth and power


 Questions for Reflection

  1. Was vulnerability celebrated, encouraged, modeled, shamed or punished in your family of origin? How do you wish it had been treated?
  2. How would your life be different if you had trusted in vulnerability earlier in life?
  3. What has life taught you about leaps of faith and leaping into the unknown?
  4. Are you tired of pretending that you are strong?
  5. If asked, would your best friend be able to name your greatest fear? Your greatest failure? Your favorite thing about yourself? If not, is there work for you to do somewhere in that?
  6. Has vulnerability gotten easier or harder as you’ve grown older?
  7. What is your favorite failure? i.e., which of your failures ended up leading to unexpected success or to a gift?
  8. What’s one thing this month that you could do to stop hiding that truth you’re so scared to share?
  9. Are you good at asking for help?
  10. What’s your take on the often shared quote, “Hurt people hurt people”?
  11. What’s one thing this month you could do to address your fears about financial vulnerability?
  12. Has a past betrayal ever left you more protective than you need to be?
  13. Which kind of vulnerability scares you the most: Saying “I need help,” “This is me,” “I’m sorry,” “I’m tired,” “I disagree,” or “I like you.”
  14. How do you mask your vulnerability? What led to that form of protection? Are you sure it’s not doing more harm than good?
  15. What’s your question? Your question may not be listed above. As always, if the above questions don’t include what life is asking from you, spend the month listening to your days to find it.


The Boise Period Project


We gather menstrual products to create period packs for those experiencing period poverty in Boise. We distribute and connect directly to the community and homeless shelters. We also aim to end the stigmas that surround both periods and poverty. Visit their website:




We recognize that all gender identities menstruate, not just women. As well as you do not have to menstruate in order to be considered a woman.


We care about the education of reproductive health and menstrual hygiene of everyone we serve.


We want to end the stigma of both period and poverty. We do not use the term “feminine hygiene” because we do not want to hide behind a euphemism about a natural bodily function. There are too many negative stereotypes about the homeless. Too often their humanity is stripped from them. They are people and they deserve to have their basic needs fulfilled no matter their circumstances.