From Our Minister


Dear Beloveds,

Tensegrity is a term coined by architect Buckminster Fuller. The word is a contraction of tensional integrity. He wrote “Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviors. Tensegrity provides the ability to yield increasingly without ultimately breaking or coming asunder.”

Although you may know Fuller as the inventor of the geodesic dome and he was also a systems theorist.  He invented the field of Synergetics –  the empirical study of systems in transformation.  

The spiritual life, the ethical life, and perhaps human living in general is a study in tensegrity. To keep one’s integrity through the ups and downs, the tensions of life, builds resilience, the ability to bounce back and continue. This is turn, builds hope as hope is the trust, we learn in ourselves and our relationships, our world – the structural relationships that hold us up and keep us going. Tensegrity allows transformation.

Transformation may happen suddenly – a traumatic event occurs in our life; a natural disaster happens; an incurable disease is diagnosed – and there is resulting profound change that can be tied to a specific before and after moment. More often, however, transformation is a gradual process. We may transform so slowly we’re not aware of it happening.  However, it happens, transformation never completely severs us from the time before the change happens. We never completely and totally leave our old self behind. As one of my favorite theologians, Bruce Springsteen puts it:

“Whoever you’ve been and wherever you’ve been, it never leaves you. I always picture it as a car. All your selves are in it. And a new self can get in, but the old selves can’t ever get out. The important thing is, who’s got their hands on the wheel at any given moment?”

That’s tensegrity. Whatever changes happen in our lives, if we retain a central integrity, the various tensions can’t destroy us. Transformation happens over time when we integrate the changes and effects of those changes on life. Change is inevitable, but transformation is not. I encourage you to seek transformation. Participation in a faith community – at the local level here in the congregation or in larger sense as a Unitarian Universalist isn’t worth much unless it transforms you.

With tensegrity,

Rev. Tony