Ruminations of the Soul reflects insights and conversations prompted by the authors diverse interests and innate curiosity about the world as a Unitarian Universalist minister, growing theologian, teacher, writer, activist/researcher and seeker.The blogger is a mystical humanist/child of the Universe on a path seeking to encounter the Sacred and Divine and to be of service to heal self and the world.
My friends, Sulaiman Nurridin and Ulester Douglas are still going strong and doing this very important work to end violence against womena and children. Click below and see what Men Stopping Violence, a national training organization, based in Atlanta is doing to address this problem.
Q. What are you doing to challenge the pervasive violence against women and children in society?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah
Ghana has always had a special place in my heart ever since I spent six months there in 1996. It was a wonderful experience and one I treasure to this day. I hooked up with women's Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) while working with the United States Embassy and Consulate doing an internship. I met many wonderful people and I have always wanted to return. But that dream has not yet manifested.
I am associated with the village of Gomoa Achiase. If you are ever there here are the directions:
go through the Accra/Winnaba road. At the Winneba Round a bout take a right and go straight until you get to Agona Swedru. There you will turn let at the Chapel Squire and go straight. You are now on the road to Gomoa Achiase which is three miles away. This road is the old Cape Coast Road.
For an update on Ghana click on the word "Ghana" below to view an intersting video on Ghana.
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah
"In everything we do there must be good music to make life good. . .
"When I am singing I feel like things are exactly as they used to be."
"When I dance my problems vanish. The camp disappears. I am proud to be an Acholi"
words of children living in war zone Displacement Camp.
The movie, War Dance, takes place in the civil war torn Northern Uganda. It follows the lives of three young children who attend school in a refugee camp. They have all directly experienced the tragedy of war and "grown up having heard the sounds of gun shots since their birth". Music for them is an escape from the horrors of their country's civil war. It is therapy against the trauma inflicted by war. Most of the villagers of Patongo, the most remote and vulnerable, village to the attacks of the rebel forces have fled to the camps for safety. The children, enrolled in school, find hope through the rich tradition of song and dance. They come from a world in which many of them have seen their parents murdered, and relatives abducted and missing. Some of the children have been abducted from their families and forced to fight in the rebel army.
Nancy, a thirteen year old recalled the following, "The rebels cut my father into pieces with machetes and ordered my mother to bury the pieces...That night they came to the village...The rebels ordered my mother to go outside...They disappeared and we did not see them anymore. . . I gathered my siblings and took them into the bush. We never got to say goodbye to our mother. . . I am the one responsible for my three siblings.
After subsequently reuniting with her mother Nancy still has to care for her three siblings because her mother travels to the various camps to looking for work.
Four years after the murder of her father Nancy's mother takes her to the site where her father was murdered. The grave is marked by a cross embedded in the hard soil. "This is where your father is buried" Nancy's mother stated.
"Mommy, I want to lie down here with daddy... They should have killed me with my father" declared a distraught Nancy.
Children living in the war zone of Uganda have been left with a lot of scars and the music is a healing therapy for them.
Nancy prays this prayer at her fathers grave, "Dear God: You took him away from me. My brothers and sisters did not grow up to know father. You took him away. Maybe one day you will bring him back to me so I can see him one more time. .. Father I will keep you in my heart. I have nothing more to say."
Dominic, age thirteen asserts, "I've been living in the war zone my whole live...I love the xylophone. I feel better when I play. I was nine years old when I was abducted...We were shaking because we had no way out...They threatened to kill us if we looked at them. They tied us up and marched us into the bush...I was held prisoner for two weeks. I saw my brother beaten. I hope my brother is still alive. They may have killed him.. . I know God is not happy with me...One day we saw two men and a man in the field. We ordered them to lie down. The rebels ordered us to kill the farmer with his own hoe. Anyone crying would be killed... Three rebels told me I was really brave. The farmers had done nothing wrong.. . You are the first to know that I killed.
Rose - Rose's parents were murdered by the rebels. They had been abducted and beheaded and their heads placed in large cooking jars When Rose looked inside she discovered the heads of her parents to her horror.
When it comes time for the children to leave for Kampala for the National Music Competition that they have worked so hard for, Rose explains, "Nobody is helping me pack because they don't want me to go."
Rose's aunt had threatened to not let her go because then there would be no one to take care of the children while she was gone.
Rose is one of 200,000 children orphaned by the war.
If my mother could see me sing she would be so proud of me. Things would be different (if she were alive.) Rose's aunt treats her like a servant demanding she assume as many of the household responsibilities and care for her nieces and nephews as she can cram into a day. And she threatens to beat her when she does not move quickly enough. Rose says, "When I sleep I dream about my parents. Rose's one respite is music.
Kampala Music Festival
"I am excited to see what peace looks like. (remark from one of the children traveling to Kampala)
"These people think because we are in the war zone that we cannot do anything good. But we will show them we are giants."
In 2005 The children of the village of Patongo traveled to the capital city, Kampla, to take part in the prestigious Kampala Music Festival. For two days they traveled by truck and accompanied by armed guards through rebel infested territory. Over the next three days three hundred and fifteen participants competed for the prestigious grand prize along with numerous other distinctions including: best musician award; traditional dance award;
The simple prayer that was said to send off the children to Kampala was, "Almighty God, we pray for your servants. May you be with them. Guide them; protect them Until we meet again. Amen."
Some of the children from the South insulted the children from the village of Patongo. They called them murderers. They called them rebels. As they prepared for their performances they were reminded by the adults that have worked tirelessly to prepare them for the competition that, "mood - your mood is the most important thing."
Five thousand children competed and the Children of Patongo Village were awarded Best Musician Award and Best Traditional Dance Award. Some of the following comments followed:
"Patongo has exceeded every ones expectations. Even for themselves." (observer)
"We went on the stage and did the best. We danced so well...People were proud and wanted to come and dance but that was not allowed." (one of the children)
"In my heart, I am more than a child of war. I am a musician, I am the future of my tribe. I am talented!" (one of the children)
"Now people will not see me as the girl whose parents were killed but as the girl who won a trophy."
"Even though we are in a war zone we can do things of value."
"We won for our entire Acholi tribe!"
The children returned home as heroes and sheroes. They all still live in the camp. Rose hopes to become a music teacher. Nancy was accepted at a Trade School and hopes to become a doctor. Dominic gave his new xylophone away to the school. He hopes to become a traveling musician.
This movie was a masterful example of the use of creative artistry that captures the tragedy of war while depicting the resiliency of the human spirit. I promise that you will not be able to watch this movie without weeping at both the tragic loss of innocence and the amazing ability of individuals to prevail in the face adversity.
These are my sisters and mother - L-R Brenda Nance, Qiyamah A. Rahman, Jackie McMillan, Betty Holmes and Gwen Richardson. Elvina Whipple Vaughn, AKA Mom in the middle.
Reflections on Domestic Work and The Help
I recently went to see the movie The Help. However, before I go into any reflections about the movie I want to share little about my standpoint, that is, what my social loction is. Domestic work is not foreign to me. My first job at 14 was as a domestic working along side my mother for the Silvermans. Ms. Dorothy, Ms. Sally and Ms. Ida Silverman. They were all single middle aged sisters living together in Detroit. I think they may have even been the last hold outs in an all black neighborhood. Ironically, the Jewish family that we bought our house from in Detroit was purchased from the last Jewish family to depart from the street in 1962 which had in earlier years been all Jewish.
One day, my older sister and I joined my mother one Saturday to help her at the Silvermans. My sister and I at the time had very different dispositions, personalities and worldviews. My sister quit after the time and true to her words. She didn't want to be "nobody's maid" she informed my mother. I on the other hand was thrilled at the sight of the $10 bill that Ms. Dorothy put into my hand. The joy of having my own money was a feeling that I recall with great relish and I knew then that I wanted to earn my own money. My parents emphasized a strong work ethic and I learned from them never to shirk from work. However, in retrospect I admire my sister's independent spirit. On the other hand, even at the tender age of 14 I recognized the freedom that having my own money provided. I put it in my bank and saved it. During the summer one of my step siblings came to visit us and it "disappeared." I was pretty sure it was him. It was a bitter lesson I learned but evidently did not learn it well enough. Many years later I experienced other thefts. One occured while I was working at the desk as a library assistant in high school and had $5 stolen out of my purse. Years later when I was working in an office setting I had my entire paycheck stolen not once but twice. But I am digressing terribly but let me say this final thing, I continued to naively believe that others were as honest as I was. And so it took a while for me to establish appropriate boundaries and precautions.
Living so many years in the south I remember being in a meeting with UU ministers talking about the culture of the south. This was intended as a introduction for newly settled ministers in the south. Someone began to talk about their black maid who had raised them. I had heard these conversations before and they always sounded disingenuious because no one ever talked about the power dynamics and how that relationship often changed when they reached puberty. I finally said something to the effect that I appreciated the lifting up of the relationship but I wondered what it would have meant to the maid to be able to enter from the front door, to share just some of the amenities she witnessed but could never have and most important, what it would have meant to translate some of that "love" for the maid into action to change some of the laws that condemned them to 2nd class citizenship.
I have two stories to share, one is about my mother, Elvina Whipple Vaughn, a former domestic worker and the other is about Dorthy Bolden, a domestic worker and the founder and director of the Domestic Workers Union in Atlanta, GA. My mother was a domestic worker that worked long enough to help raise three young women who now have children of their own. My mother had two years of college at what is now Savannah State University in Savannah, GA. Because my father was abusive and controlling and did not want my mother to work around men. She was an excellent barber and cut my father and my five brothers hair. She could have become a master barber or any number of things. She is very intelligent. However, she would have had to work around men. Hence, domestic work was a safe option. My mother just retired about two years ago at 85. We were never able to convince her to stop working. Ironically, she was in Atlanta where she went every year around Thanksgiving and she would return to Detroit after the first of the year. This particular year they were having a snow storm while she was enjoying beautiful mild weather in Atlanta. She called her employers and informed them that she would not be returning. She had been employed with them for 43 years and had seen them through graduate school with the wife advancing from teacher to principal and having three daughters which my mother cared for. Each year around Thanksgiving time Mrs. Farber and her three daughers, all grown and married and some with children of their own, visit my mother and take her out for dinner.
I also think that my mother recognized what my father did not and that is "retirement" could signal a slow down that could be fatal. It was in my fathers case as he experienced a rapid decline in his health resulting in his demise shortly after retirement. My mom used to complain about how he followed her around completely bored and that she could not get anything done because he was constantly under foot. However, her retirement days are filled with cooking and caring for her home, shopping, visiting and traveling and a great deal of church work. She is a devout Christian and member of Greater St. Stephens Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, MI. She also has a lot of friends. My father had neither hobbies or friends. Work was his life. And without it he did not have much of a life.
Testimonials about The Help
"Of course I had trepidations. Why do I have to play the mammy? But what do you do as an actor if one of the most multifaceted and rich roles you’ve ever been given is a maid in 1962 Mississippi? Do you not take the role because you feel like in some ways it’s not a good message to send to Black people? No. The message is the quality of the work. That is the greater message…As Black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences - experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point.
“— Viola Davis, Essence magazine August 2011 cover feature (via monkeyknifefight)
I’m deeply reflecting on this powerful quote from Viola Davis, a phenomenal actor AND beautiful woman. I saw the movie and was horrified not by her acting, which was superb. I was horrified with the film’s subtle and not-so subtle racism. Yes, I know the film takes place in 1962 Mississippi, and one could argue that the film was depicting the times. While some of that is true, what’s also true is that the film is racist and sexist.
Another Testimonial"I’m a great granddaughter, great-niece, and granddaughter of Black women who worked as domestics for racist and sexist White people both in the Jim Crow South and the (allegedly liberated) North. I am the daughter of a southern Black woman who spent 18-months (1964-1966) in Laurel, Mississippi working for SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee). Hardly any of the stories that I’ve heard, first-hand, throughout my life (and I’m in my 40s) from any of the aforementioned women or their friends, matched the portrayal of the Black women and their communities in The Help…
It’s hard out here for Black women actors in the Hollywood (or, Hollyweird, as Toni Cade Bambara used to call it) system. When one turns down a role based on their principles and dignity, another one will gladly accept that role. Ever since D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of Nation, one of the earlier cinematic “masterpieces,” Hollywood has been rooted in castigating, maligning, stereotyping, marginalizing, and dehumanizing people of African descent?
How do we stop this powerful system, which influences the world, from its ongoing cinematic racist, sexist, heterosexist/homophobic/transphobic, and classist assaults not only on communities of African descent, but also on Latina/o, Arab, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Roma (Gypsy), Southwest Asian communities….? When does ENOUGH become ENOUGH?
(written by Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Producer and Director of No! The Rape Documentary - http://notherapedocumentary.com/)
I will add more testimonials over time. I plan to watch The Help a 2nd time when it comes to Netflix and revisit my review of the movie.
Jeinaba Diop Gai, a stunning Senegalese actress and superb dancer portrays Karmen Gei, a "gorgeous, sexy and exotically conceived" character in this latest cinematic version of Carmen, the classic opera by George Bizet. This new and striking modern adaptation set iin modern Dakar on the coast of West Africa gets a reinterpretation of Bizet's Carmen. It is the first movie musical produced in sub-Saharan Africa and fuses the throbbing and vibrant rhythms of West African dance and the "soaring melody of contemporary Senagalese pop, jazz and Afro-pop that showcases the vanguard jazz saxophone of the World Saxophone Quartet's David Murray". The movie is filled with lively Senegalese dancing and singing.
Karmen is an inmate in the infamous women's prison on Goree Island. Her lusty uninhibited dancing and sensual demeanor seduces the prison's warden, Angelique, played by Stephanie Biddle. Having been summoned to the warden's bed one night, Karmen seizes the opportunity to escape after engaging in passionate love making with the warden. After her escape, Karmen somehow ends up attending the society wedding of a miitary police, Colonel Lamine Diop (Magaye Adama Niang) and gets in a dancing showdown with the bride. She is arrested and Diop is attempting to escort her to jail when he is beguiled by Karmen's charms. Having boggled Karmen's capture and arrest Diop is incarcerated.
Eventually a complex love triangle evolves between Karmen, Angelique and Diop. "Both a femme fatale and a political martyr, Gai's gorgeous Amazon heroine may be the most magnetic, most beautful and bravest Carmen ever to grace a stage or screen(The San Francisco Bay Guardian).
If Karmen Gei, produced in 2001, is representative of Senegelese cinema I look forward to with anticipation to future productions of such quality.
Menu - I promised to share the menu that accompanies each movie that I am viewing during my Holiday Movie Marathon. I viewed Karmen Gei after dinner but I had a delightful repass consisting of French Vanilla ice cream (Bryers) and Armarula, a South African creame liquer made from the marula fruit. One day I was telling a South African how much I enjoyed Armarula and she said, "We sometimes have it with ice cream." So for this occasion I tried it and I must say it is delicious!
Winter is right around the corner. But meanwhile, Chicago is holding back harsh temperatures and weather! I am enjoying my last winter in Chicago!
Due to an error with my airline reservation I am unexpectedly spending the holiday weekend in Chicago. My plans were to be in Atlanta, GA from December 21 to 30. I know that I would never make a reservation for March 21 to 30 but Orbitz was not convinced and attributed the error to me. Whether that is the case or not I have learned from this experience to carefully review ones itinerary upon receipt from the travel agency. I usually do that right before I hit the "submit" to "charge" my credit card. So I don't know what happened. Because I distinctly remember doing so!
So in the spirit of creativity (and survival) I am working to put together an itinerary on short notice for this weekend. The weekend will include a movie marathon of videos with menus and reviews featured on my blog. In addition, I expect to attend 7am worship at Trinity United Church of Christ, where the Rev. Otis Moss III is pastor and then 10 am worship at First Unitarian Church of Chicago. Worship will be followed by a potluck dinner at First Unitarian Church. My housing cooperative, Covenantal Community Housing Cooperative will feature its usual 6pm Sunday potluck. So I have a few things in place!
I enjoyed Unwanted Woman, my first movie, while feasting on glazed fresh carrots, stir fried rice, salad and Moscoto, a sweet white wine. Unwanted Woman, directed by a female, Tahmineh Milani, focuses on the struggles of women in modern day Iran. Sima, mother and school teacher, is the main character. She is married to Ahmad who is unfaithful and apparently immature as demonstrated in his blatantly flirtatious behavior with Saba. Keep in mind this is modern day Iran and Ahmad's behavior while tolerated as the norm in other countries is policed in Iran. Males are not to be seen cavorting with women in public that are not their legal wives. Sima accompanies Ahmad on a trip when she discovers the trip is a rouse so that he and his lady friend, Saba can rendezvous. Sima's endures blatant emotional abuse such as infidelity and hints at physical abuse. We also are witness to scenes when Ahmad physically strikes Sima. An example of the emotional abuse is his promise to Saba to leave Sima on the side of the road so that he and Saba can proceed on their trip together. However, Sima experiences a break through, although Ahmad perceives it as a break down, when she acts totally out of character and takes great risk to help a stranger avoid police capture. The stranger, is wanted for the murder of his wife and cousin which he commits believing his wife was unfaithful. In a conversation with Rahim we gain glimpses of Sima's compassion and motivations for helping Rahim. Sima drives him out of the city to avoid arrest and later convinces her husband to take a detour to pick Rahim up. One would not expect Sima to be so sympathetic to a batterer and murderer. However, she admires his ability to do what she is unable to do, that is, eliminate his unfaithful wife and lover. By the conclusion of the story we see that everyone is a victim of a male dominated society. Ahmad, Sima's unfaithful husband was forced to marry at twenty and bemoans the loss of his freedom and the adult responsibilities of becoming a husband and father. Sima is drowning in an unhappy marriage and living with a husband that does not love her or respect her. At one point he refers to her as a "worthless cow" although she is both beautiful, intelligent and a devoted wife and mother. Saba, the girlfriend, was sold by her husband to a pimp for five years to support his opium habit and subsequently, has attempted suicide ten times. And finally, Rahim, the jealous husband who commits homicide because of his obsessive belief that his wife is cheating on him with his cousin discovers that he may have acted in haste and commits suicide in the end.
At times the movie's subtitles were difficult to read because they were in white and they sometimes flashed across the screen too fast. However, the movie's acting and plot are solid and provide an excellent portrayal of some hard hitting social issues like patriarchy, male violence, gender roles, double standards, and arranged marriages. I recommend the film and using a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being excellent I give it a 4 and a half.
Stay tuned for the next movie review in my weekend movie marathon!
I am a movie buff. I was probably one of the few individuals that did not voice any complaints when Netflix imposed their drastic rate increase. My monthly fee of $11.99 was raised to $17.99 a month. Currently the average cost of a movie is about $10. I view as many aa 15-20 a month so I get the better deal. My current plan permits unlimited instantly available movies via internet and includes one-at-a-time video through the mail. I order, receive it, view it and send it back immediately. I have a que of 100 movies waiting. However, when I recently received Bordertown starring Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas it sat on my desk for at least a week. Bordertown is a dramatic narrative about the over 400 women that have been murdered in the border town of Juarez, Mexico since 1993. Initially I tried to watch the movie but I just could not stomach the horrendously predictable storyline of seeing woman after woman brutally raped, maimed and killed. It is not enough to violate these women but their killers torture and brutalize them. They are the disposables in their society. I finally forced myself to watch the movie today after sitting on it for a week. It was as horrendous as I anticipated. I am saddened and furious that there is still so much gender based violence in the world. I was mildly traumatized by the movie's graphic rape scenes which restimulated memories of my own rape history.
Let us work and pray for a time of peace and harmony. Let us work for woman safe environments in our life time. Let us strive to celebrate the work we have done and the work still undone to make the world safe for all regardless of gender.
Q. If you are a male, how can you work to combat violence against women? How can you align yourself with female allies to dismantle gender based violence?
Q. If you are a female how can you protect yourself from possible harm while working to change the nature of social relations and systemic violence that is so pervasive and condoned in society?
Dear Readers: I give thanks to the ancestors that I have managed to survive for sixty-three years with some degree of sanity. If one manages to arrive at a state of "grown-ness" as a Black woman in Amerika then you deserve accolades for you have surely weathered adversity and the storms of life in doing so. This is particularly true if you have experienced the hardship of poverty and other adversities. If you don't know what I'm talking about then I am not talking to you and that is another post for another time. lol But if you have known some hard times and have managed to keep your head on half way straight and not let life get you down then I'm talking to you. If you have been abused/misused and excused then I'm talking to you!
You/I/we have earned the right to speak. And we ain't lettin' nobody tell us that we ain't got the right to the Tree of Life. I/we/you can do no other than to speak our Truth. So what issues claim my attention at this time in my life? But first you have to know this about me, I am a libran. I know some folks do not put much store in astrology. But astrologers look for "behavioral connections between human beings and the alignment of planets and assorted movements in the skies" influence our tendencies and personalities. Librans are the epitome of order and harmony. We demand balance and if we do not find it we will create it. We are peacemakers because we yearn for peace and so out of necessity we tend to mediate situations towards more harmonious outcomes. We do not thrive in environments where conflict prevails. It might come as a surprise that as I transition into parish ministry that I am naturally drawn to settings that need such skill sets of empathic listener and conflict transformation. Nor am I surprised that I desire to shape a ministry of diversity and inclusion. Part of the reason I am so comfortable being a Unitarian Universalist is that it resembles one of the multiple worlds I am most familiar with. One of my worlds is that shared by my ethnic community of Blacks. Another is my Unitarian Universalist culture where I am a so called minority. Yet I can hold my own in the world where I am a minority because I am not intimidated by others that are different than me. Why? Partly because I have had a lot of therapy (lol) but partly because I was raised to know that I had to be "better than whites". Better did not mean smarter, although it was important if I wanted to get ahead in a world where intellectual capital was important. I realized and was taught at an early age that I was superior to whites because I was taught to be a superior human being, that is ,to love everyone and take the moral high ground. That did not stop with just people that looked like me. I was also taught that God loved me. So I didn't need to hate whites or anyone for that matter. I didn't feel the need to mistreat others or talk against others. Neither did I feel the need to dominant others. I was not perfect but I knew right from wrong because of the moral wisdom I was taught mainly at home which was reinforced through organized religion. I always wanted to stand in righteousness and be about doing the right things. I knew that I was better than the whites that I read about that misused and abused blacks simply because they were Black or hated them for the same reasons. My parents never told me that I was better than whites but because of the moral wisdom that was imparted to me - "to love those that despise you and persecute you" I claimed a moral compass that put me in a different mindset. When I went through my black identity period I became militant and a Black nationalist. I thought the love your enemy rhetoric was a lot of uncle Tom bull shit and so I rejected it. But when i returned to it I realized that I was a better human being because I was taught to believe in a God that loved me just like he loved white folks and everyone. And God didn't love me any less than whites.
Womanist theologians such as Emilie Townes might express it more poetically, "womanist spirituality is the deep kneading of humanity and divinity into one breath, one hope, one vision. Womanist spirituality is not only one way of living, it is a style of witness that seeks to cross the yawning chasms of hatreds and prejudices and oppressions into a deeper and richer love of God as we express Jesus in our lives."
White folks had their ways and black folks had their ways. Our survival strategies protected us from the hatred and oppression of racism. Moral wisdom emerged in the midst of oppression and affirmed our humanity and belief that god hated oppression and sided with the oppressed and honored our ethnic heritage if others did not. Our life affirming refusal to submit to cynicism, alienation and despair carried my people through slavery, Jim Crow, share cropping and it will see our survival through internalized acts of aggression and oppression. Sharon Welch in her book, Ethic of Risk reminds us that there are no perfect people - just non-heroic individuals striving for "justice filled lives that lived for justice."
It wasn't until I relinquished those values that I began to unconsciously hate my blackness. Racisms ugly tenacles almost paralyzed me and undid all the positive foundation that Christianity had laid. It was only then that white supremacy's lies could convince me that my skin was ugly and my nose too thick and my hair too kinky. These things had nothing to do with the character of my soul, instead they were things that I had no control over. You can only imagine how overwhelming that was for me. I am so glad I made it through that stage with a minimum of scars even though I am still healing from those experiences.
So now as I come into my senior years I am claiming the wisdom of time and grounding myself in the things that I know the most about - being Black and being female. I know a little bit about resiliency. On the other hand I sometimes feel that I know absolutely nothing about love. And yet I have been the recipient of much love. I simply did not recognize it at the time nor could I really appreciate it and receive love fully and completely. Some of the things we know we take for granted. Resiliency is one of the things I know about. I can talk about being picked up after shattering in what seemed like a million pieces and in the middle of all that - be able to turn my life around. I do not take that for granted. I do not assume that everyone knows how to reach inside or to call on powers and sources greater than themselves in the midst of life's storms. I cannot tell you how to do it because you may need something else for your journey. But I know how to be present with you and to listen to you and affirm your journey. That is why I am called to ministry. My ministry is about inclusion and journeying with individuals.
So I find myself called to parish ministry and of course my ministry would be one of inclusion. What else could I talk about but the love which has carried me forward through the years? What else could I embrace but that which held me when I could not stand. What else could I know to name and but communities of support that loved me through times when I could not love myself.
Many of you know that I am transitioning into parish ministry - specifically a ministry that allows me to live my values, promote healing and love and apply a ministry of inclusion, that is, empowering people toward claiming their own power to be a positive presence in the world. I can be a bridge in our Unitarian Universalist congregations and out in the larger community and I can be a bridge within as we navigate the sometimes turbulent and confusing waters of diversity and justice making. While I think we are a long way from a true redistribution of wealth we have other strategies that can facilitate reaching back and bringing marginalized people into a quality of life that is life affirming. Some of those strategies include being outwardly focused, including a redefinition of social roles and power relationships. That is why my people have emphasized the following, to whom much is given much is expected and that is what I strive to practice. Each one teach one! Volunteer and nonprofit organizations can have a tremendous impact on marginalized populations and our Unitarian Universalist congregations can be a part of that support. Many of our large sized congregations can participate in this critical role by forming non profits that reflect both social service and social change approaches. While it will take money, that is not the real challenge, finding the political will and leadership is the supreme challenge. It may take several generations to achieve the goal of diversity in some of our Unitarian Universalist congregations that lack racial and cultural diversity. But the work that we must do does not have to be postponed because we do not currently have racial and cultural diversity. Creating a welcoming and nurturing environment is a prerequisite to attracting and retaining people of any color.
The question is are we up to the task? Only time will tell! Let us refuse to leave this world before we make a lasting legacy for humanity. According to Robinson, the one unacceptable course of action is to do nothing, to try nothing new and to tolerate the intolerable status quo."
Question: What will be your legacy to the world? What will you risk?
God/life calls us not to sacrifice but to lives of empathy, love, responsibilitgy and accountability.
Transitions in life are par for the course. Anything not in motion is dying and decaying. Many of you know that Meadville Lombard has sold off all of its property and is negotiating a lease with a yet undisclosed landlord and location. As the lease is being prepared for our move here at Meadville Lombard Theological School I am thinking about and looking at our present building that I have been a part of and coming to since 2003. Here are some snap shots of the buildings that hold a lot of memories that I will miss. Yet, the reality is that we have outgrown it and its dated wiring (or lack of ) which created technology headaches.
A friend sent me some pictures that capture the building and some of the faculty, staff and students from yester year.
Q. What transitions are you currently experiencing? What transitions do you need to lift up and honor? How might you ritualize the transitions that mark your life? How might you embrace them joyfully?