Again-- this will be my newsletter article for All Souls The Path newsletter.
It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.
- Marge Piercy
I love this poem by Marge Piercy. I often think of it when I feel as if I am not making a difference in the world; when I am feeling alone or lonely. This poem reminds me of two things.
First, it reminds me that every little step forward is progress; it goes on one at a time, every time we act. It continues on when we no longer see ourselves as separate from one another but rather, as all bundled together in the cosmos.
This poem, and indeed, our Unitarian Universalist faith, calls us to deeper and deeper connections. It calls us to daily widen the circle of love in which we stand so that more are included.
Coming out as a lesbian when I was 16 years old was the beginning of ever-widening the circle for me. I suddenly realized that I was part of “the other,” the nameless, faceless assortment of those who did not fit, were not invited into the circle of love for the majority, the “normal,” the comforting sameness of life.
I distinctly remember what it felt like to be on the outside of that invisibly etched circle of inclusion. It was a revelatory moment for me. Or really, more aptly, it was the moment of the “big bang” explosion of my conscious existence. A whole universe filled with galaxies of possibilities burst forth when I came out; when I realized the “other” was just another facet of me I had not yet met.
So from that moment, my universe has been expanding to include ever more diverse peoples and cultures as part of my “We.” First I reached out to the feminists, the pro-choice and included them in my “We.” Then I reached out in solidarity – or rather reached back– to the poor, those living at or below the poverty line, whose lives echoed my beginnings in this world. I reached out to people of color, begin to educate myself about my own inherent racism; how merely by dint of my skin color, I belonged to an oppressive, systemic racist culture. I included, then, people of color into my “We” and those of the dominant culture who were trying to healing racism into my “We.” I went on to include other ways of being in relationship into my “We” as well; those whose hearts and loves didn’t fall into the neat and tidy categories of monogamous, life-time partnerships of two people (regardless of gender), and of course, gender-variant people as well are now a part of my “We.”
I’ve got to be honest here: every time my universe expanded to include more people, I felt uncomfortable. I felt resistance to the idea of stepping outside of my comfort zones of who could possibly be “in” and then, of course, those who were left out. And I’m certainly not to the point where my “We” leaves no room for an “other.” I keep expanding still; not always easily or gently, but it does go on one at a time when I care to act, when I care to learn about those who are different from me, rather than judging them; when I intentionally participate in diversity in community rather than insist on division and commonality.
It seems as if October is a month for continuing to increase the circle .
First, we will gather in all our diversity as the Mountains and Desert District at our annual meeting next weekend, where I will preach at the closing worship service on the 9th.
That same afternoon, at 2 pm, back at All Souls, I will be celebrating my fellowship status as a UUA minister with an Affirmation of Call service, in which Rev. Meg Riley will be preaching.
Finally, on Saturday, October 15, at the 2011Colorado Springs NAACP Freedom Fund Gala I will be presented with the Religious Affairs Award. This is awarded to a member of the clergy/faith community who has made a difference in the causes of diversity and inclusion and has offered unwavering support of the programs and mission of the NAACP (for more information on this event go to ColoradoSpringsNAACP.org).
I am honored and humbled to receive such an award. In my mind, I haven’t done much more than to step into the NAACP circle of love and expand mine to include them. All these events are so meaningful to me and remind me again that if we can just say “We” and mean one more each time, there is nothing that can stop us from over-turning systems and structures of injustice, insuring all people have their basic needs met and that the planet is a safe place in which to live and grow. This will become easier when we realize “we” are saving ourselves; that there is no “other,” for we are all one, we share in our common unity as sojourners on this planet.