“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there….”
The Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Rumi lived in the 13th century of the Common Era. He wrote many Persian poems, often with Islamic imagery. An American scholar, Coleman Barks, edited the imagery to use things familiar to mainstream English-speaking culture, creating new meaning:
“…When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense” (Out Beyond Ideas by Rumi/Barks)
Last Sunday I talked about Memorial Day by focusing on a reading from Specimen Days by Walt Whitman (freely available at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/8813) The image was a column of soldiers marching back to Washington after defeat at Bull Run. I concentrated on the emotion of marching together and the idea of “Brotherhood.” I also referred to the documentary “Restrepo” (you can find the DVD in the library, or parts on Youtube) and filmmaker Sebastian Junger’s TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_junger_why_veterans_miss_war
(I see he has another one:”Our lonely society makes it hard to come home from war” but haven’t had a chance to view that one yet.)
As we change from “Trust”– our theme for May, to “Spirituality” in the month of June we bring along the many conversations begun in May. Conversations about how we are with each other, our different perspectives and what we need from each other. Members of the Board are talking, the Worship Services Committee is talking, the staff is talking, as is the Choir. Even Facebook has had a few conversations. And we have learned quite a bit about trust, respect and loving-kindess, even across different points of view and understandings.
In one of my first columns when I arrived here I quoted Shirdi Sai Baba (1835-1918) who taught: “Before you speak ask yourself: Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true? Does it improve upon the silence?” It is a good checklist to use before responding to difficult words. I can also see how this checklist might be used to shame some into silence. We might self-edit our words out of a desire to not offend. Sometimes we have to speak something because it is on our heart, even if it is not kind and we do not know if it is true. That’s one role of a minister, to listen. Spouses, old friends — they work, too. Some folks prefer to journal, or express thoughts artistically or to a therapist, group, or spiritual director to help them hear their own feelings. It is one of the reasons ‘church’ exists.
Over the past few months I’ve come to a new understanding about Racial Justice work. I thought it was a “Social Justice” initiative, and I put it in that compartment. But, through discussion I came to understand that Racial Justice is not about “shoulding” others, or myself. Racial Justice is about spiritual deepening, self examination, self reflection, and courageous spiritual growth. I urge you to come to this Sunday’s “Teach-In” asking “What can I learn? How might I grow?”
The same attitude can be used for this weekend’s film festival (short subjects at UCN Friday at 8pm) and also the Interfaith LGBTQSI Celebration hosted by UCN on Tuesday, June 13 at 7 PM. There is more cooking on our spiritual stove, but for now, enjoy the week. “I’ll meet you there.”
I love you,
PS: Correction: H.R. Pridefest is Saturday, June 17 noon- 7PM at Town Point Park, Norfolk. Friday, June 16, 7 PM is the 6th Annual Block Party at the Scope — performers, dancing and circus fun $10 all ages (21 to drink.) http://hamptonroadspride.org/
June 4, 2017 | 10:30 a.m.
Teach-in on White Supremacy
A Denominational Anti-Racism Initiative.
This “Teach-In” is a time for us to learn from each other where we are — “in” our organization — and where we might be going. How can we, as Unitarian Universalists, reexamine ourselves, our national organization’s processes and our movement so that we will be able to engage the larger culture in this work?
The framework for this service was designed by Unitarian Universalists of Color and it includes providing a separate caucus space for attendees who identify as Persons of Color to gather if they wish to.