I’ve been out of bed for less than two hours in and in that time, I’ve sent three girls off to school and been wracked by tears of joy and inspiration repeatedly thanks to the good works, words, and example of you UUs.
It must have started last night when I began (full disclosure: did not finish) watching Obama’s sermon as linked by Jess and then, later, found Sarah Vowell’s column as posted by iBeth, which I linked and sent to my two eldest daughters with an email note trying to explain to them the depths of my despair over hearing their hate hurled at each other over stuff. Just stuff, and not even stuff that matters. Rev. Dr. King’s words and Sarah Vowell’s commentary were just what I needed to try to continue the conversation I keep having with them about the power of stopping hateful behavior rather than inflaming it; that it rarely matters who starts it, but always matters that someone stops it.
This morning, I started with Matt Tittle’s sermon, On Dreams, mountaintops, and promised lands. Then I started poking around Wizdum.net and found the posting of Rev. Gail Geisenhainer’s sermon from GA 2006, We Who Believe in Freedom–a sermon I was privileged to attend, and I found, in rereading this a.m., it had lost none of its power to provoke, prod and promote. From there, I went to Earthbound Spirit who linked to a Keb’Mo’ song I’d never heard, but which includes one of my favorite spiritual leaders, Bonnie Raitt, and is just, well, beautiful.
It was then that I had to step away from the computer. Tears had already filled several tissues in the viewing of the videos and got in the way as I tried to read.
Getting my youngest daughter on the bus and sorting through laundry and generally trying to restart my life, I wondered why these songs and sermons had rattled me so. It truly wasn’t about the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., though each had this as the thread that connected them. Or was it?
Back before I found religion, when I reconciled anything religious as belonging to a scornful institution of bigotry and hypocrisy, I wrote a novel. I look back on that novel now, with new eyes. It had been written as a love story where the protagonists learn what it means to commit. It actually was, now that I think of it, the story “Knocked Up,” but without the humor and both characters were more slacker than not. But in this story was a character who comes to me over and over and over again. The main character’s aunt, who never married, lived a life where she was allowed to pursue art and literature and sit around and be terribly, terribly profound. Her advice to her not-so-young charge was this: be open to it all. This is the gift of a life, to be open to the pain and the pleasure, to let these in and let them out again. To everything its season, as it were.
This morning, I heard her again in the echoes of the sermons and the songs, calling me to be open. I know that I have shut down and shut out these past few weeks, through busy-ness, through a drink or two (mostly two), and through escapism (thank you, Jane Austen). I have been blaming it on jet lag or on clutter or on the fact that I live in a house with three kids, three cats and a husband who is sometimes here, oh, and also on the occupation of my head and heart with my parents 2000 miles away.
I have allowed myself to be both happy and sad, yes, but I have not allowed myself to be engaged beyond my own pain. But this is not the life that I am called to, this immersion in depression. It is the life I have led, yes, but it is not the life I am called to live. And there is where the majority of the pain lies; this is, I believe, why the tears rolled down this morning. There was a confluence of cheerleaders calling me to my best self, even though none of them know it, or even know me.
Yes, I dropped a lot of names in this post. I do so because I don’t know if these ministers, seminarians, and just plain old religious folk know that what they do here in the blogosphere sometimes really does make an impact. Perhaps not the one they envisioned, perhaps one that may not make significant change in the world, but it has made a difference in one life in one corner of the world.
I am grateful to have found this religion, these people, this message. Profoundly grateful. And I would be remiss to not thank UUpdater who provides the service that allows me to find all these people here, in one place.
Here’s what these cheerleaders each whispered, in their own way:
Feel what you feel,
but come back from there
Especially when needed;
especially when not.
Move forward and beyond
and be open.
This is the lesson for this day and, with hope, every day henceforth.