- Last Updated on November 23, 2016
I rose before dawn this past Sunday and headed east to be the guest preacher in Wilmington. The ride through eastern North Carolina was extraordinarily beautiful. Now in late autumn the deep blue sky arches broadly over the flat fields, and the rich russet and gold of changing leaves rings out from the surrounding woods. The sun is lower in the sky, and its thick, mellow light casts long shadows, even while wild asters and grasses shake their seeds into the wind. The cycle of life continues.
Life will continue on. And when we’re exhausted and full of life’s sorrow, we can rest our hearts in the world’s beauty as well as in the love of family and friends. That’s good to remember after this election when so many of us are angry and anxious. We don’t yet have good strategies for defending rights that we’ve fought for and won within recent memory. People of Color, Native peoples, African Americans, political refugees and immigrants often know by hard experience that new rights have to be vigilantly defended. And yet for those who are experiencing outrage and great fear for the first time, it can be a struggle to makes sense of this new experience.
Whatever our struggles and source of sorrow, our Unitarian Universalist faith offers us resources. Our faith is rooted in the long time belief in the inherent worth and dignity of each person. Within each person is a likeness to God, the Unitarian, William Ellery Channing said nearly 200 years ago. He was making a claim to the long standing Judeo Christian belief that a spark of the divine exists within every person. Our Universalist ancestors also believed that each person was a beloved child of God, and that beneath all our differences of appearance, wealth, and life experience, this makes us ultimately more like one another than unalike. Both sides of our heritage believed that we’re all part of the same family, part of the same interdependent web of life, together.
Many contemporary UUs have travelled beyond Channing’s specific theology, but we hold onto the deep beliefs—we’re equals, and we’re all in this interdependent web together, tied together as Dr. King said in an inescapable network of mutuality. Or, as Dr. Barber now says, “We” is the most important word in our language. UUs know that this is not an exclusive “we,” even at the same time that we know that no one is asked to make themselves vulnerable to anyone who intends them harm. But always, we do the hardest work of love, which is to treat others, even our enemies, as we wish to be treated. Even as we organize our opposition.
I’m sorry that I will be away, but on Monday, November 28 at 5pm, the North Carolina NAACP gathers at 1 Edenton St, and prepares to march at 5:30 for civil rights and voting rights. Look for ERUUFians wearing vests with our name on them, or a yellow Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt. We also have in our care the Raleigh Fellowship’s big yellow “Standing on the Side of Love” banner—and we’ll use it! So you can look for any of these signs to find ERUUF friends.
And as always, you can find us on Sunday morning at 9:15 and 11:15 services, and at Wednesday vespers and programs on November 30 and December 7. There are also numerous conversations and small groups throughout the week. If you are deeply troubled, you need not be alone. Come and join friends in this community of love and belonging, equality and justice. Together we are more powerful than any of us on our own. We can rest easier in this knowledge, as well as in the beauty of the world.