I began a month-long meditation of daily gratitude.
Reverend Rob shared his story of dialoguing with the “other” yesterday at our UU church. For a year they hosted another church inside our church. Ours was a liberal religious community with an openly gay pastor. Theirs was a conservative evangelical congregation that preached against homosexuality. The UUs hosted them and engaged them in dialogue. “Those were the deepest, most meaningful, most rewarding conversations I’ve had as a minister,” Rob said.
But hosting this church created a crisis for the church’s board. Officially, this church cannot act in ways that run counter to its mission and values. They debated which value takes priority- the value of dialogue or the value of promoting equal rights for all? Was providing space for this church – in effect – supporting an anti-rights agenda?
Ultimately, the board severed ties with the other church over Rob’s objection. He argued for continuing the dialogue so long as it was an authentic and heart felt effort towards mutual understanding. And though the “safer” stance won, his story inspired a powerful sermon about our future. Walls are sturdy; bridges fragile.
That’s the kind of difficult but meaningful work I’m craving for 2017. I’m grateful I won’t be alone in that search for understanding. True resistance to the prevailing winds is building a shared future for everyone on common American values – beyond partisan attitudes. It’s much easier to protest, complain, and organize “against” – but transforming the world has always been the work of those who understand what we’re working “for.”
In Rob’s words: “Practice resistance when necessary, reconciliation where possible, and pray for the wisdom to know which is needed when.”
Audio of Rob’s sermon: https://archive.org/download/11202016TheWelcomeTable/11-20-2016%20The%20Welcome%20Table.mp3
Although my family is conservative, I’ve always been an independent, not tied to any party. Compared to them, I’m very liberal minded. Our differences have given me ample opportunity to learn how to break bread at a table with people who don’t see the world as I do. I’m thank for that experience.
It’s going to take a lot more sit-downs across from non-like-minded people, more time listening and sharing our feelings in a vulnerable way, before this country can be whole. It’s really one nation of two worldviews, and we seldom cross paths with the other.
I would love to have an open, honest listening session with anyone who supported Trump. I just want to understand where you’re coming from. Perhaps there are things we both agree on. You never know until you listen.
I’m grateful for having found a spiritual grounding over the last 15 years that allows me to imagine the many paths for the impossible could blossom in this world.
I am thankful people are pouring into my local Unitarian Universalist church. Last Sunday Rob Hardies gave a poignant sermon that struck a balance between accepting the results and working to provide “sanctuary” to those in need of support in the times ahead.
He reminded us that our church’s bell, crafted by Paul Revere’s son, has tolled for those in need of justice for 195 years.
– It tolled for John Brown when he was hung for his abolitionist raid at Harper’s Ferry.
– It tolled for the Emancipation Proclamation, and the end of the civil war.
– It tolled for MLK’s 1963 march on Washington.
– It tolled when marriage equality for DC residents was signed into law in this sanctuary.
It will continue to toll. Our work as a justice seeking people is not yet finished.
“The measure of privilege is in the number of things a person can afford to ignore in life.” — David Thoreau
For too long, I’ve ignored too many of the things that deeply mattered to others. Now I must make time to recognize these things daily and act for the good of others.