Nothing But Fear Itself…

Slide1I woke up this morning and read Tom Schade’s blog The Lively Tradition, “Fear vs. Boldness” parts 1 & 2 and it really got me thinking.  After reading this anonymous post about the turmoil and angst being felt by many Unitarian Universalist seminarians, I started drifting through the Facebook pages of my friends, both fellowshipped ministers and those still in formation.  I then came across the following article by Frank Joyce on one of their pages: “Now is the Time for a New Abolition Movement”…again more thinking, but more importantly, a personal wake up call to do away with fear and step into boldness…

Unitarian Universalists have some really good stuff going around diversity, but at the same time we are completely missing the boat where creating real change around racism is concerned.  I have been looking at how Unitarian Universalists are planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the actions and deaths in Selma, Alabama in March 2015,and in particular I have been following the Living Legacy Project.  Yet there is little language here or on the Unitarian Universalist Association website that states plainly that this was a conflict that came out of a deeply entrenched racial divide between black and white people in the United States, and no connection drawn to the ongoing struggle that is evident in situations such as the recent #FergusonDecision.  Instead, the information is focused primarily on “voting rights.”   This is historically correct and important, but I think we lose something in the memories of Viola Liuzzo or of Rev. James Reeb when we avoid saying that they were the victims of racially motivated acts of violence as white people standing up for the broader civil rights of black people.  And although Jimmie Lee Jackson was certainly killed because of his efforts to vote, the four girls killed in the 1963 KKK bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham were unquestionably killed because they were black.  The specific fight for voting rights was only the spark that ignited the massive bomb of race based tension that had been building since Emancipation 100 years earlier.  I applaud the efforts of my friends working on the Living Legacy Project, and among them are some of the bolder voices in Unitarian Universalism; they are my inspiration. But I see the hesitance to name the events in Selma for what what they were as part of our general fear in the face of boldness and I want to use this space to call on all Unitarian Universalists to name this tragedy for what it continues to be: the legacy of deeply rooted and brutal racism in America.

Losing the ability to state this painful truth says that we are willing to let fear temper our boldness.  Is this what we are teaching/learning in seminary?  Apparently, we have an incredible amount of work to do if we are actually going to live into any kind of real spiritual calling.  Let us find a way to live our truth, feeling all of our pain, seeing all of our wounds, and tending to them with the healing salve of love as equals in humanity.

Let us live our faith.

Día de los Muertos

dia-de-los-muertosDay of the Dead…Día de los Muertos is a contradiction to many people. How can the “dead” have a day? The rational mind doesn’t want to make sense out of that contradiction. So many of us prefer to have a life with order and explanations and justifications and clear indications. We may talk about life being a “riddle and a mystery” but when it comes down to it, there is a strong tendency in all Western culture to turn away from that kind of uncertainty. And where death is concerned, many of us are happy to ignore it altogether. So how fortunate that we build our communities understanding that some of us have limitations to what we may know or understand from our personal experience or from dominant cultures. Knowing those limitations, we can be open to being guided and taught and humbled by the rituals and practices of those in our communities who do have rich traditions where some of us may have none. In Mexico, Día de los Muertos makes death  something to neither fear nor avoid.  It is a celebration and it is an expression of a relationship with the dead, death and dying that not only helps the living to mourn those they have lost and embrace grief, but also helps us to look squarely at our own mortality right in the eye without judgment.

We are all going to die. But we need not fear. Día de los Muertos teaches us that if we learn how to listen from the other side in this life, we will always be able hear those we love in the next.

Dance Between the Two

From the darkness there is light
After day there is night
So the sun chases the moon
And so we live and so we die.
But if we carry heavy hearts,
Let the spirits of our departed
Lift us up and help us fly.
Mix our tears with their laughter
Blend our joy with their memory.
Let the living dance with the dead
So that we all may rest in peace
With the beauty and wholeness of our lives.
For just as the sun chases the moon
It is the dance between the two
That brings the golden break of dawn
And exquisite purple twilight.

La danza entre los dos (traducción por Tania Marquez)

De la oscuridad surge la luz,
después del día viene la noche,
así  el sol persigue a la luna
y así vivimos y morimos.
Pero si nos pesa el corazón,
dejemos que los espíritus de quienes se han ido
nos levanten y nos ayuden a volar.
Mezclemos nuestras lágrimas con sus risas
nuestra alegría con su memoria.
Dejemos que los vivos dancen con los muertos
Para que todos podamos descansar en paz
con la belleza y la plenitud de nuestras vidas.
Porque así como el sol persigue a la luna
Es la danza entre los dos lo que
trae el dorado despuntar del alba y un
exquisito crepúsculo púrpura.