Archive | February 2014

Arizona and Texas Too

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The tide is rolling in

Make no mistake

The world is changing

The seas are rising

At long last

The shoreline shrinks

Fear’s last stand

Will not delay

Fate for long

An ocean of love

Is breaking now

Across the land

It’s not too late

To learn to swim

Come on in

The water’s fine

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What Shall We Do With Our Anger

What should we do with our anger?

Shall we hold it inside?

Until it explodes

Scorching the earth with hate

Fight like there’s no tomorrow

Burn down every bridge that we see?

What should we do with our anger

Shall we bury it deep in our hearts

Feed it with resentment

A smoldering coal that smokes

And colors our vision grey.

What shall we do with our anger?

Shall we release it bit by bit

Hiding a nasty word with a smile

A dagger sly behind a hug

A pretended innocence

Oh, what shall you do with your anger

What shall I do with mine?

Can we build a fire to light our way

And warm our ragged hearts?

Can fury can give us the energy

To build the world anew?

Can justice come from rage?

Can anger be guided by love?

Can it become a blessing

Instead of a curse?

Only love will make it so.

A visitor’s comments about our service today

Read what this visitor said about us. (Here)

Comments like these make me think we are doing something right.

 

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What is Love?

Call to worship (click here)

Music Video (Click here)

The sermon was not video-taped this week.

Sermon text:

What is love?  That is a complicated question.  Most of you know by now that this church is not a place to come if you are looking for easy answers.

Frank Sinatra sang about love being a many splendored thing.

“It’s the April rose that only grows in the early spring.
Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living.”

The Greeks, who were quite excellent at philosophy, broke love down into four different types: Eros, a passionate and intense love that arouses romantic feelings, Storge, is family or brotherly love, something you might feel for your children or your very best friend, Phileo, is the affection you feel for the people you like, and last, but not least, Agape, which is love in the verb form, an unconditional love that requires action.

The Greeks distinguished their forms of love not only by the qualities of the different types of love they were defining, but also about where that love was directed: to a lover, a family member, a friend, or to the world.

What they left out was love of self, which is an odd and significant omission I think.  I have no clue as to why, except maybe it was just assumed that people love themselves.  The Greeks were much less guilt ridden and prone to self-esteem issues than is our modern culture.

It is very difficult to love anyone else if you don’t love and respect yourself.  Can we apply all four of the Greek forms of love to ourselves?  Can we like ourselves as in Phileo?  Other people like us, so it shouldn’t be that hard for us to like ourselves as well.  Can we love ourselves like a close family member?  After all, we know ourselves better than we know anyone else. I also don’t think there is anything wrong with self-love in terms of Eros.  We are all sexual beings; passion is part of our nature.  Loving yourself, satisfying yourself sexually, is not a sin.  We’re probably going to need talk more someday soon about sin and what it means in our religious tradition, but for me, a sin is something that actually causes harm, not just something that someone says you shouldn’t do.

And then there is Agape, love as a verb, love as unconditional.  Agape love directed inward is a form of radical self-acceptance.  It drives us toward spiritual health, and moves us to make the changes in our own lives that allow us to focus that Agape love on other people and on the planet.

So what do you think love is?  Do you think it can be divided into categories like the Greeks did?

My friend, the Rev. David Miller, who serves as the minister of one of our congregations in San Diego, CA. has been posting quotes about love on his facebook page.

Some of my favorites are:

Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker

“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”

Rita Mae Brown, Riding Shotgun

“Sorrow is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.”

Marianne Williamson

“Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts. Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth.

Carl Jung

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.

Lord Byron

“There are four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.”

Everyone, it seems, has something to say about love.  The minister who officiated at my recent wedding asked both Anne and I what we had learned about love in our 39 years together.  This is what I wrote:

What I have learned about love is this:  it doesn’t come easy. It isn’t a happily ever after riding into the sunset with a prince or princess by your side.  Soul mates aren’t magic mirrors reflecting back how you want to see yourself or them.  Reach through the mirror, pay attention to the cracks.  They are how the love – and light gets in.  Leonard Cohen taught me a lot with that line.  You aren’t royalty either, just a frog like other frogs.  Life is the swamp can be lovely though.  It is not necessary to sing every song in tune or dance in time with a perfect rhythm.

Marriage means so much more if you have been engaged for decades.  I know this from experience.  Because engagement is the thing, one of them, that makes a marriage, a partnership, work.  Be real and honest and yourself.  Listen carefully.  Pay attention.  Hold your lover’s hand, but don’t hold them back, and try to catch them when they fall.  You will stumble too.  Stay engaged even after you are married.  I think that might be the key.

In any case be grateful.  If someone really loves you, it is a miracle

Love, like justice, does not come easy, but with enough grace, with enough effort, it comes.

That is what I wrote, and the minister used some of those words in the ceremony.  After the wedding, our daughter gave us a toast.  It really moved me, and I am going to read parts of it for you.

“Not many daughters get the opportunity to give a wedding toast for their parents. It’s kind of an unusual situation. It’s like, “when I first met Anne and Theresa…I was in the womb. I remember when they were just two young lovebirds, the vague sound of their voices coming through to my amniotic sac.”

I also can’t ruminate on their future together. It’s like “spoiler alert,” 39 years later.. things are pretty good. You still get nervous when the other person drives. You are still in love. You have 3 kids.. and they turned out awesome.

So, I don’t get to do the typical wedding toast. But, instead I do have this really remarkable opportunity to celebrate my moms’ relationship.  I want to talk about what I’ve learned from my witty, opinionated mothers.

Especially with all of the news and debate about marriage equality today, I’ve had lots of time to think about my moms and the impact they have had on me.  Am I all screwed up because I have lesbian moms? Am I confused about who I am? Do I wish I had a dad?

I’ve had to answer those questions a lot. And the answer is no.

My mothers are parents who chose to be together, in spite of real obstacles.

These are parents who pushed their children to always be who we are, no matter what other people think. Parents who taught us to advocate for our rights and for the rights of others. Parents who taught us to love who we love, no matter what.

They have taught me so much, but because today is a wedding, I want to talk in particular about what I’ve learned from my mothers about love.

Some of you might know that last summer, I hiked the John Muir Trail. It’s a backcountry trail that runs 218 miles from Yosemite, over 8 mountain passes to Mt. Whitney, all in the backcountry.  This is something I would never have considered if not for the wonderful summers my mothers spent taking the three of us camping in Yosemite, in Yellowstone, in Glacier national parks.

One of the things I was thinking about as I was hiking, was my moms. I had called them from an outpost a week into the hike, and they told me that they had been officially married in California.

It’s good I had my moms to think about because while the trail was beautiful, actually hiking it was also the hardest thing I have ever done. My backpack was too heavy; it weighed 45 pounds. I had to clamber up these endless 10-mile inclines, up thousands of feet in elevation, to get to each peak. And then I had to do it all over again. Those climbs were absolutely horrible.

But then, I’d get to the top.

And the top was unfailingly the most beautiful place I’d ever been, each peak more breathtaking than the last. There were turquoise alpine lakes, wildflowers, and snowcapped peaks, the whole world spread out below your feet.

And I realized, this is what I know about love. And I learned it from my moms. It is hard sometimes. It can be horrible. There are endless switchbacks and sometimes you don’t know if they’ll end, you’re not sure if you’ll make it to the top.

But you keep working at it, you put your head down and put one foot in front of the other and you make it to the top. And at the top is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been.

And then you do it all over again.

And, mommy and mama, you’ve been through a lot together. You’ve climbed a lot of long uphills, and I’ve watched you put the work into many of them. You have reached so many glorious peaks. Thank you for your perseverance and your honesty, your commitment and your love.  You’ve taught me that the things that matter, like love, take work.”

That made me cry when I heard it, and it still makes me a bit teary-eyed.

We have had some hard things to deal with in this community the last few weeks.  Many of us have been experiencing grief and loss.  But even in the midst of painful emotions, we know that life is better because of love.  Life is better with you.

I want to end this sermon with you, reading something together.  Please turn in your grey hymnals to #639.  The words are from 1 John 4.  Your part is in italics.

Let us love one another, because love is from God.

Whoever does not love God does not know God, for God is love.

No one has ever seen God, if we love one another, God lives in us.

God is love and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them.

There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.

Those who say “I love God” and hate their brothers and sisters are liars, for those who do not love a brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

No one has seen God, if we love one another, God lives in us.

Namaste my friends, Namaste.

Love is More Than a Valentine

march 10_2010

Love is more

Than a valentine

A sunset beach

Or a fancy meal

Love is more than

Than a roaring fire

On a snowy night

Chocolate hearts

Or dreams of sweet delight

Love is just

What we do

Each and every day

We wash the dishes

We rake the leaves

Tend to the children

And watch the days go by

Holding hands and hearts

We pray that love

Will grow and spread

And wrap the world around

Feed the hungry

Care for the sick

Heal the earth

Bring justice

Raining down

For all of this

And so much more

Love finds us work to do

No, We Are Not “Fine”

Utah’s suicide rate has been consistently higher than the U.S. rate for the last decade. See the statistics here.

The number of drug overdose deaths – a majority of which are from prescription drugs – in Utah increased by 59 percent since 1999 when the rate was 10.6 per 100,000.  Our state is #8 in the nation in drug overdose deaths.  See more statistics here and here.

 

Utah culture is currently very toxic and frankly, deadly.  It is much worse for Mormons and even worse for LGBT mormons. How LGBT people are treated in Utah is appalling.  (See an article on gay LDS youth being thrown out of their home and forced to live on the streets – here) .

I did a sermon on this issue last week. Read it  here. If the LDS faith wants to continue to exist, they really need to address these issues and soon.  They say they support “traditional” families, but their families are currently being torn apart by suicide and by drugs.  Attacking other families won’t help them, it will only hurt them as they will also lose almost all of their GLBT members and many of the friends and families of LGBT people.  They need to look at their own culture.  This really is a crisis that faith alone will not solve.

Sinners and Saints

Video of this sermon posted (here)

Opening words (here)

Sermon text:

Have you ever been called a saint?  Have you ever been called a sinner?  If so, it’s time to get over it.  It is just not true; it isn’t who you are.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life, be it good or be it bad.  You are not a saint and you are not a sinner – and neither is the person sitting next to you.  Your neighbors aren’t saints and they are also not sinners.  It might be a stretch, but I think that is probably true even for our politicians here in Utah.  They may be self-righteous, but they are far from saints.  They may be corrupt, but they are not just sinners.

No, we are all human.  We are capable of amazing acts of compassion, generosity and love.  We are also capable of disgusting acts of cruelty, selfishness, and hate.  It is important that we learn to accept this.  It is critical that we learn to forgive each other and ourselves.  It is the only way that we can begin again in love and create the kind of world we would like to see for ourselves and for our children.

It is a radical religious idea, that there are no saints and no sinners.  It is not the history of most religions in this country or in the world.

Most common is the theological belief that we are all sinners, and are saved only by the grace of God, or maybe just by believing in certain very specific ideas about God.

Universalism was born out of a rejection of the idea that some are saved and some are damned.  I love the quote from our reading about God dragging the last sinner kicking and cursing into heaven.

If you think that some of your neighbors are damned because of their sins, and by neighbors I mean every other human being that shares this planet, then it is not much of a stretch to try and make their life in this world a living hell.  Hey, you’d just be doing God’s will.  I won’t count up all the atrocities committed in the name of this type of religion. They include the crusades, 911, and all the witches and heretics that were burned at the stake.  They include hate crimes and the murders of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and they include the genocidal war waged against the native peoples of this continent.  Who cares about a heathen, who cares about a heretic, and who really cares about a sinner? God is going to punish them with hell anyway, so why do bother to treat them decently now?

Saying you love the sinner, but hate the sin, also just doesn’t cut it.  If you really love someone, then you look beyond whatever flaws they might have or mistakes they might have made. You shouldn’t qualify that love by saying what you hate about someone. That isn’t love, it is just self-righteousness. Don’t tell someone that you love them, but that you believe God thinks that their love is an abomination. That’s not love; it’s spiritual violence.

Conservative beliefs about sin and damnation are obviously dangerous to the people they consider to be sinners, but they are also dangerous for those who hold those beliefs.

I did an interview on a Christian TV station in Salt Lake a couple of years ago.  The man wanted to talk about how the Bible condemned homosexuality, but I somehow managed to turn it into a discussion about why one should never take scripture literally. The scariest part of that experience for me was when he said that we are all sinners.  I responded that while I knew that some people did very evil things that caused great harm, my experience was instead that most people wanted to do good and tried their best to do so.  He responded by saying that the person who stops and helps you change your flat tire goes home afterward and abuses his child.  I think he really believed that, and it was a frightening view of the world. I asked if he believed that he was evil too, and he said that he was. He said that was why he believed in Jesus and the Bible.  His religion was all that was going to save him from burning in the hell he believed that he deserved.

How can someone live like that, believing that they are nothing but a depraved sinner, believing that humans are nothing more than horrors?  It is a belief that I think must eventually rot your very soul.

You can’t see the good in yourself or in anyone else and you focus instead on your failings and the so-called sins of others.

That world must seem a dreary and dangerous place.

That fundamentalist scared me, but I also had to feel some compassion for him, as it seemed a very sad and limited life that his belief system was causing him to live.  Maybe there would be pie in the sky when he dies, but meanwhile here on earth his spirit was simply starving for joy.

You can’t love yourself if you think you are nothing but a sinner.  You can’t really love other people either if you can’t love yourself. Yes, we all do some bad things, things we are ashamed of; things we regret, but those sins don’t define who we are as people.  No matter what we have done, we have the potential to make amends, if not to the same people we have hurt, then to someone else and even to the world as a whole.  That is the glory of being human and the grace that comes from being alive.

There are other theologies that don’t think everyone is a sinner, but they divide up the world into the sinners and the saints.  People that believe in those religions, of course, think they are the saints and those other people over there are the sinners.

They are doing everything right, and God will reward them for their efforts.  Saints tend to love themselves, at least as long as they continue to feel that God is blessing them.

In the old story of Job, a righteous man as described in the Bible, his life quite literally falls apart and he begins to question both himself and God.  What had he done wrong that life would treat him so cruelly?

His neighbors assumed that he must not be as righteous as he appeared.  Which is another danger with that type of theology, which says that if people are suffering it must be their own fault, because suffering is all a part of God’s plan.

I do not think we can blame God, or the divine, for the bad things that happen to us.  I also don’t think everything good that happens is part of some cosmic plan.

Much of our suffering is human caused, either because of the acts of individuals or because of what we do collectively as a society.  The same is true for the good things.  That doesn’t mean we should not be grateful for the good things is our lives, but we also don’t always have to blame God or ourselves when bad things happen.

“If only I were a better person, if only I could be more Christ-like, if only I could be compassionate like the Buddha, then everything would be OK.”  Saints have a hard time, because, well, no human being is really capable of pure sainthood. Yes, we all have a spark of the holy within us and in that sense we are partly divine, but there is no way that any of us can achieve God-like perfection.  Thinking we can, trying and failing, can be spiritually devastating.

Some of the new age philosophies contain a similar trap.  “Think positive thoughts, repeat your aspirations in the mirror daily, release the power of this crystal, and don’t forget to check your horoscope. If you do everything right, you will be rewarded either in this life or in heaven.

But what happens when you can’t do everything right?  When you just aren’t good enough?

I think we know what happens, because we see it all around us, here in Utah.  People are so polite.  When I first moved here, I was startled by one of the common expressions here.  If you bump your shopping cart into someone in the grocery store and say that you are sorry, what is the response you are likely to get?

In other places, someone might say, “no problem,” “no worries,” “it’s OK”, or even “you need to watch it.”

Anyone know the phrase I am talking about?  Right, people here tell you, pretty much every time you apologize for anything: “you’re fine.”  I am used to it now and even say that myself sometimes, but in the beginning I was tempted to say, “No, I am not ‘fine,’ I just made a mistake and I am sorry.”

There seems to be a culture here wants everything and everyone to be “fine.” Some of it comes, I think, partly from LDS theology.  Mormons are essentially Universalists, believing that all can choose to be saved, if not in this life then in the next. They are also Unitarian in their belief that we all have divine potential.  I obviously have no real quibble with any of that.  Mormons are actually in many ways our close cousins in the larger family of world religions.

But I cannot help but be concerned about the suffering I see around me.  I worry about the people who know they aren’t “fine”, that everything is not OK, but they can’t tell anyone because if you are supposed to be a saint, then you must be good all the time.  You must do everything right. Perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.  That, my friends, is impossible and is a distortion of the universalism that Joseph Smith inherited from his father and which influenced how his church developed. Universalism says God loves all of us, just the way we are. We don’t have to be perfect.

Utah has extremely high numbers of people who are diagnosed with depression.  Many get addicted to prescription drugs, trying to ease their pain.  There is also a very high suicide rate in Utah, particularly among young people.  We also know that it isn’t just young people who kill themselves.  We tragically lost one of our own just this last week.

Is this epidemic of severe depression and suicide partly because people can’t, in the end, live up to the expectations they have for themselves? Do they feel like failures because they aren’t perfect, because they can’t control their “same gender attraction,” because sometimes the contradictions are so great that they are swallowed up by despair?  Do they feel like being depressed is even worse than it is because it is something they are not supposed to experience?  They are supposed to be “fine” but they are not.  They judge themselves as unworthy, perhaps too unworthy to continue living.

I’m going to quote the Pope here, who said, “Who am I to judge?” Who are we, indeed, to judge?  How can we judge others or even ourselves?  Who are we to call someone else a sinner, and who are we to think that we can become saints?

Simply human, that is all we are, and it is a wonderful thing.  We can, as the Rev. John Wolf has said,

“(We can) search for the holy, rather than dwelling upon the depraved. (We) call no one a sinner, (because we know) how deep is the struggle in each person’s breast and how great is the hunger for what is good.”

Let us continue search for the holy, wherever we might find it, that we each might find a way to feed our hunger for the good.  But most of all, may we learn to forgive ourselves and each other, as we begin, again, each new day of our lives, in love.

Namaste.

Pray for the Saints

How must it feel

To be told you’re a saint

That your life’s been designed

By God’s perfect plan?

What happens then

When you stumble and trip

And fall down the stairs

Like we all sometimes do?

 

Do you know what its like

To be told you’re a sinner?

You’re lost and you’re damned

Not part of God’s plan?

What happens then

When you find deep within

Knowledge of wrong and of right

And a truth you hadn’t been told.

 

Pray for the saints

Pray for the sinners

Pray for the day that will come

When we’ll all live our lives

In the best way we can

We won’t cast aspersions

On ourselves or each other

We will look in a mirror

Cleared from the illusion

No sinners, no saints

God holds us all

In a loving embrace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Larger Ministry

I am a large woman

It is a good thing.

As a minister

My shoulders must be wide

When people need them

To absorb their tears.

My arms must open up

To create a safe space

To hold the fearful

Close to my body

In a strong embrace.

If I could only be

Even larger

My giant heart

Might beat a rhythm

Loud enough

Just loud enough

To teach this hurting world

The joy of the dance.

 

Change is Good

For a video of this sermon click (here)

Opening words (click here)

Sermon notes:

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose, under heaven.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem like that.  Sometimes a change happens that makes us angry, that fills us with rage or with grief.  I know many of us here today are feeling grief and loss because of our good friend’s sudden death this week.  I know I am.  Just a few weeks ago, he stood right here before you, sharing his thoughts and his wisdom.  What a gift that was, and what a gift he was.  It is a gift we should be grateful for.

I don’t know why he had to die.  I just found out this morning how he died.  I do know that we will miss him.  He filled a space in many of our hearts, a space that is aching with emptiness today.

But loss such as this one, my dear friends, is a part of life.  We are only here for a season, and then the wheel will turn and things will change.  We are creatures of habit, however.  We like most things, at least the things we like, to stay the same.

Change does not always feel good.  Despite today’s sermon title, I don’t believe that change is always good.  The death of someone we love never feels like a good thing, even if it is expected, even if the person has been ill for a long time.   Pete Seeger, whose song we just sang, lived to 94 before he, too, died this week.  Pete lived a very long life, but many of us are feeling his loss today as well.

Our world seems a little smaller, a little lonelier when good people have left it. There are so many people who I wish were still with us.  People I knew personally and people who influenced my life even though I never met them in person.

I know you all have people you miss.  It is OK to think about them.  Grief never completely goes away when we have lost someone we love.  But do not forget that love cannot die.  It continues inside of us, it keeps us warm as we remember with gratitude the blessings that loved ones brought into our lives.

But changes will come no matter what we do.  Impermanence is the essence of being alive.  As in our reading, it is important to accept this fact, even as we struggle to hold on to what we love and what matters to us. Nothing lasts forever, all is Dukkha, and while we suffer from some changes, there are also changes we would love to see both in our lives and in the world.

Change always involves some loss, but it also can create opportunities.  And in that sense change is good.  It means we are alive and awake to possibilities.  Our climate is changing, not for the better, but people are starting to come together, to work with each other, to both lessen the impact of the changes and to work to repair the damage that has been done.  We can have cleaner air to breathe.  We are a people who want to make things better.  We want to bring more justice and freedom into the world.  We want the hungry to be fed and the sick to be healed.

We are not content with the world just the way it is.

Change is still hard.  It is important to acknowledge all the complicated feelings we can have about any change, about any loss. Our emotions can be very complicated.  We can be sad.  We can be angry.  We can be afraid.  All of these emotions are very human.  It is good to just let yourself feel them.  Cry, shed the tears and don’t try to stop them.  We can be angry with a person who has died because they have left us.  That is OK too.  Fear is normal as well.  What will happen and how can we go on? What other horrible changes might be coming?

What is also important to remember, is that change will come to those feelings.  Life will go on.  You will find other people to love and others will love you.  The sun will come out and a small bird will sing.  Life will feel good again.

If we don’t understand this, if we do not understand that such change will come, then we could become stuck in despair.  That happens to some people.  They become overwhelmed and they lose hope because they no longer believe that anything will ever change.  It is, in some senses, losing faith in life, because life is all about change.  Even rocks are changed as the wind and the rain wear their sharp edges away.

Erik Wikstrom had this to say about change and the church:

“If you are who you were,
and if the person next to you is who he or she was,
if none of us has changed
since the day we came in here—
we have failed.”

“The purpose of this community—
of any church, temple, zendo, mosque—
is to help its people grow.”

“We do this through encounters with the unknown—in ourselves,
in one another,
in “The Other”—whoever that might be for us,
however hard that might be—
because these encounters have many gifts to offer.”

His prayer is that people will go forth from the worship service each Sunday, not as they were when they came, but as the people they could be.

Holly Near wrote a song about change.  It is a prayerful song. Beth will sing it now.

I am open and I am willing
For to be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change

There is hurting in my family
There is sorrow in my town
There is panic all across the nation
There is wailing the whole world round

May the children see more clearly
May the elders be more wise
May the winds of change caress us
Even though it burns our eyes

 Give me a mighty oak to hold my confusion
Give me a desert to hold my fears
Give me a sunset to hold my wonder
Give me an ocean to hold my tears.

I am open and I am willing
For to be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change”

Are you open? Are you willing? Are you ready to be lifted up to the light of change?

Change does not mean chaos.  You still have your values; you still have your visions and hopes for what can be.  Hold onto them let them guide you.  Hold onto each other as well. Lift us all up to the light of change.

Pete Seeger taught me something this week, something I needed to learn.  He had a long career as a musician and social activist, but his was full of changes.  He sang with the Weavers and with Woody Guthrie; he was a Communist for a time.  He was called up before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 50’s and was blacklisted for quite awhile.  He was active in the Peace Movement, he worked as an environmentalist to clean up the Hudson River, and while in his 90’s he sang for the Occupy Movement.  He did a lot of different things and, as the world changed around him, he also changed.   He used his voice and his passion for justice in a variety of different ways, but he also always held on to who he was.

He was always guided by love and compassion.  There was anger at times, righteous anger, but it was never mean spirited.  He sometimes called the people who had power damned fools, but his song was always the same.  Pete Seeger was a good Unitarian Universalist.  He joined one of our churches because his values were our values.  His songs were always love songs, even the angry ones.  They were songs about the love of justice, of freedom, of the planet and of people.

They were songs about the love between and among us all.  The love that lasts, that is stronger than death and loss, that is stronger than hatred, and stronger than despair.

If we hold onto that love, we will always know what to do.  We will greet whatever changes may come in the spirit of that love.

We will keep singing.  We will keep dancing.

I wrote a poem about Seeger the day that he died.  It was about him, but it could have been about anyone like him.  It could have been about all of the people we are missing today.  There is nothing better than to live your life fully in a way that helps to heal the world.

Oh, Pete

You’ve died in your bed

But your songs they still play

In my head and my heart

No lullabies these

They say wake-up and rise

We will march to the beat

Of your troubadour’s heart

Walking the pathway of peace.

Your hammer we’ll swing

Until justice has come

Your bell we will ring

Until freedom is real

And your song about love

We will sing it for you.

Keep singing the songs.  Keep singing the songs for your heroes, for your loved ones, for those who inspire you, for those who are kind.

Sing the songs too for those who are lost, abandoned, or afraid.  Bring them hope with the power of your songs, and bring them peace with the power of your love.  May it be so!  Namaste