Ponderings of our Spiritual Life Director 4-28-21

Ponderings of our Spiritual Life Director

“From Starfish I have learned that if we keep our core intact, we can regenerate. We can fall apart, lose limbs, and re-grow them as long as we don’t let anyone threaten that central disc’s integrity. We can grow so many different arms, depending on what kind of sea star we are. We have to nourish ourselves with the resources we are surrounded by, with our community assets if you will, and by doing so we help keep ecosystems delicately balanced.” –JoLillian T. Zwerdling (quoted in adrienne maree brown’s “Emergent Strategy”, chapter on resilience).

There’s love at the core of our word splash pictured above, the one we created together on Sunday. It’s at the core of our community, right where it should be. We know that love is hard. It’s complicated, complex, and messy. Sometimes it makes us hurt even more. Yet, we love anyway. We stick with it, we let it guide us, and it keeps us together.

It keeps us together because no matter how hard it is, love is healing. Love is nourishing. And love leads to teamwork, connection, friendship, collaboration, joy, acceptance, and all the other arms we grow.

To keep an ecosystem balanced, we must use all of our arms during the inevitable storms to keep us holding on tight. We might lose an arm during the confusion of the storm, though- an arm that holds trust, respect, humility, hope, or acceptance. With love at our core, we can grow them back.

Growing back is a process that looks at the mistakes that were made and doesn’t see them as failure, but as learning. This learning gives us strength and skills so that we know how to do better next time the storm comes through.

And doing better changes our thought patterns, our behavior, and our culture. I look forward to the day that we can break the chains of white supremacy culture because we’ve been diligent about discovering where it shows up in our thoughts, behavior, patterns, and systems.

I have a vision for us. In this vision, we all start deepening the work we do to dismantle racism within ourselves and our church culture (yes, including me– it is work that is never done! See image below). We closely examine who we are and why we do certain things. We honor what truly helps us thrive. We accept that some things that we may hold to dearly do not help us thrive. We become accountable for changing them, together. We nourish each other through the letting go and heal each other through the change. Every one of us. In my vision, we’ve even learned to weather the storms with perfect grace and resilience so that the rains that come down onto us flow into that love– growing it, changing it, and deepening its roots. What we know of love becomes even more miraculous than we could have imagined.

And then, we are the way we want the world to be. We bring this way of being into new realms of place and time. It’s transformative work. It’s the work we have to do if we truly want to live out all 8 of our principles and our new mission statement. It’s the only way towards life, thriving, and sustainability.

Will you join me? I will set up times for two book groups: 1. How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and 2. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad.

Let me know which book you are interested in. Let me know what days and times you can meet and if you prefer to meet on Zoom or in small, in-person groups (that meet according to guidelines). It will take at least a few weeks to get groups and times set up (I need to finish the semester first!). Email me at heather@uuclakeland.org.

And don’t forget, Merrilyn and Carl Crosson host the UUCL Book Group on the 2nd Tuesdays of each month on Zoom. They are currently reading the book Caste. It also addresses race and the systems and cultures we need to dismantle. You are welcome to join them.

One last thing, I expect that none of you want to continue to (unintentionally or intentionally) harm people. I expect that you do want to grow a multicultural community. Afterall, we adopted the 8th Principle in a unanimous vote. This is the way to commit ourselves to that principle and make that aspiration a reality. Thank you for all you do for this UUCL community.