What Does It Mean to Gather in Hope as Unitarian Universalists?
Take a breath, and notice how you feel in your body, and how the world around you feels. Take a breath for the day you have had so far. And a breath for this precious moment, which cannot be recreated. Now, another for the day and night coming. Here you are, in the cycle between the past and the future, choosing to spend your miraculous time in the exploration of how humans, especially those seeking to grow liberation and justice, can learn from the world around us to best collaborate, how to shape change… Adrienne Maree Brown from her recent book Emergent Strategy
For me, these words hold the spirit of this season. A spirit of listening to and learning from new sources of untold truth. A spirit that informs our values and helps us give shape to our understandings of dignity, truth, interconnectedness and compassion. This spirit was present the other day during our newcomer’s class where ten of us shared which UU principle(s) we had embodied in the last week. The stories were beautiful, heart filling, and hopeful. Listening and learning from the needs of students in Worcester schools, from the needs of low-income mothers and kids, and to the narrative of grief gave new meaning to the expressions of dignity and worth. And though the situations described were hard, I heard in the telling a compassion and a conviction that pointed towards a future in which justice, equity and peace are an ever-present reality. All us in the room were lifted up by a collective sense of possibility.
Theologian Jürgen Moltmann writes “Those who hope…can no longer put up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer under it, to contradict it. True hope means conflict with the world, for the goad of the promised future stabs inexorably into the flesh of every unfulfilled present.” This is the sense of hope I experienced during the newcomer’s class, but what is missing from Moltmann’s description is the sense of community that hope engenders without which hope can fade into despair. Theologian Howard Thurman describes hope as a spirit abroad in life that makes for wholeness and for community; it knows no country and its allies are to be found wherever the heart is kind and the collective will and the private endeavor seek to make justice where injustice abounds, to make peace where chaos is rampant, and to make the voice heard on behalf of the helpless and weak. It is the voice of God and the voice of humanity; it is the meaning of all the strivings of the whole human race.”
This is the meaning I enjoy striving towards with you, as we create together this spirit of hopeful wholeness that goads us all towards a promised future. Next time you sit down with a group at church, or elsewhere in your life, ask one another how you have each lived into one of our (your) principles. Let hope lift you up, let hope lift all of us up, and carry us into the new year.
With peace and many blessings,