Reverend Cathy Harrington
This month’s theme is courage. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
What does it mean to be a thoughtful, committed people of courage? This month we will get uncomfortable and discover what it means to have thoughtful courage and change the world.
October begins with Pride Week and a guest speaker, Marcus Ellsworth, poet, writer, and activist. Marcus will share what it means to be a people of faith who courageously fight for the rights of LGBTQ equality. The following week is an opportunity for UUCC to show up for the Pride Parade wearing our yellow, Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts or stickers. I have an X-large Standing on the Side of Love shirt if someone would like to borrow it because I will be leading our Sunday service at the same time the parade begins at 11 am. Those of us who cannot march will be with you in spirit! Perhaps some of you would like to meet at the church and carpool.
I’m so grateful to be taking Earl Braggs’ African American Literature class at UTC this semester and in just a few short weeks, Professor Braggs has given me new insights into racism and systemic injustice in our society dating back to the beginning of slavery in America. James Baldwin said, “Being born black in America is like being born in the basement of life.” I’ve learned that there is immense richness, courage, and spirit that we owe to the African American culture that we don’t understand. I’ll share some of what I’ve learned from reading the work of black writers in America on October 15th.
The UUA has asked all of our congregations to do another White Supremacy Teach-In and ours will be on October 22. Our guest speaker is Chris Newby, who is a former gang leader who has been called to mentor at-risk youth and to educate people of privilege what it looks like to grow up black and poor in America. He’s a powerful speaker who will open our eyes and our hearts!
Father Michael Lapsley from Cape Town, South Africa will be speaking on October 29th. Father Michael was an anti-Apartheid activist/freedom fighter as a young Anglican priest and he was gravely wounded in 1990 when he received a mail bomb just three days after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. He lost both hands and one eye in the bombing but it didn’t quell his courageous spirit. He established the Institute for the Healing of Memories in Cape Town to work in parallel to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with Bishop Desmond Tutu. Father Michael’s mission is to share the remarkable healing power of telling our stories and being heard all around the world where people have suffered trauma from a multitude of sources.
We aren’t all called to be heroes like Father Michael or Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King or Gandhi, but can allow our hearts and minds to be open and awake. Our lesson from Soul Matters this month assures us that It isn’t only heroic acts that alter history, there are also the daily choices that prevent history from altering us. Battling evil and bending the arc of the universe toward justice deserves praise, but there’s also the ordinary work of integrity and not allowing yourself to be bent. This needs to be noticed as well. There’s the bravery of embracing your beauty even when it doesn’t fit the air-brushed images surrounding you. There’s the courage of calling out the micro-aggressions that happen almost every day at work. And what about resisting the persistent seduction of status and stuff? The list is long: Turning down that drink one day at a time. Making yourself get out of bed when the depression tells you to stay there. Holding your partner’s hand in public. Make no mistake, there are dozens of ordinary acts of bravery we rise up to everyday!
Want to change the world? My friend Quentin said he joined the Faithful Fools because he wanted to change the world. “Guess what. I’ve changed.” he said. That’s what it takes, one small act of courage at a time. Humming to the tune of that old song about the rubber tree plant we can sing, “Whoops there goes another paradigm shift. Kerplunk!”
See you in church!