Not Afraid to Shine

Not Afraid to Shine

It’s the middle of summer—we are in this time when the sun rises early and sets late, when weeds are flourishing and ripe tomatoes aren’t that far away; these days when we are surrounded by light and warmth—ample amounts of it! I hope you’re getting some time to enjoy this season—it’s invitation to slow down and be present to its gifts. Which you know is going to go by faster than we think. At the same time, I’m mindful that, for many of us, these are trying times, when our nation seems to have lost its way and is doing harm than good: oppressing people rather than advancing the cause of freedom and justice, dividing people because of race or ethnicity or immigration status. It would be easy, these days, to focus only on what’s broken, to be anxious about the state of our world, to fall into despair. 

But our world needs all the help it can get these days; it needs what you and I have to offer: our hope and faith, our energy and daring. With so much bad news, it can be easy to feel discouraged. I need ways to have my faith in humanity renewed, I need reason for hope, and I expect you do too. And recently that faith and hope has come from a surprising place: the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

Mary Oliver, American Primitive

Mary Oliver, American Primitive

      “Wild Geese" is Mary's assurance that our way home is the path we choose to travel in love.  Don't hide your pain Mary says, “Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine; Meanwhile, the world goes on,” doesn’t it though?  And so we are invited to tell our tales, admitting that we have indeed been traumatized by life.  

     Despair is an intense word, friends, not for casual use.  It snagged my attention like one of Rev. Frank's well-placed casts, yet Mary seems almost nonchalant dispensing it.  

     Instead, she redirects us to the geese, beautiful, wild creatures soaring freely beyond the constraints of human lives, “harsh and exciting” in their vocalizing; “heading home again”.  Home, likewise a hefty word, perhaps defining living arrangement or place origin, but suggestive of more; family grouping, community; the word that names refuge:  physically and philosophically.  This is intentional - to contrast despair with belonging – the geese her lead players, because they can transport themselves whenever the need arises to go where sanctuary beckons.  Mary's telling us, use your imagination, transcend your pain, listen, the geese are announcing something vital, "you have a place in the family of things."   

At Home, Together

At Home, Together

Last Sunday we heard from our Coming of Age youth, and I’m glad so many of you were here to receive that blessing, of their words and presence. If I had one wish for our young people, it would be this: that they feel at home: in themselves, in their families, in this church, and in the world. Isn't this what we are all seeking? The way home?

A couple of weeks ago, Josh Goulet preached a wonderful sermon and something he said has stayed with me, about our third UU principle; which affirms “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth.” Josh noticed that acceptance of one another comes first; that it’s only after you feel some level of belonging, that you are ready to stretch and grow spiritually. In other words, once you feel at home, once you feel safe and secure enough, then you can go deeper and reach out and take risks and help others.