Ralph Waldo Emerson, was a Unitarian minister whose transcendental theology became too radical for the church of his time.
It took, what...half a century for the Unitarians to begin to catch up?
I think so many of us now would find inspiration in the transcendentalist's desire to pare down our material needs in order to be more free to follow a spiritual, moral, artistic path. Make time for the big stuff.
So...Emerson, the major dude.
But I have to admit, I have never gotten through a single one of his essays.
I told the kids last week, reading his stuff makes me feel really ignorant. It's so dense, and he seems to use words to define something so specific that only a disciple would catch the reference.
Apparently I have company. Wikipedia mentioned that folks attending his very popular lectures would comment, "I have no idea what he said, but it was surely beautiful!"
So for the kids I pulled (from the UU kids book) the rebus letter he wrote as a kid to his older brother. It's a fun puzzle.
And even though I can't make heads or tales of his essays, Emerson is fabulously quotable...especially at graduation time.
We read a dozen quotes including:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”
and then several kids penned their own rebus puzzles, and wrote their own sage words of graduation advice.