Thursday, January 8, 2015

“The historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence” -- T.S. Eliot

I have been feeling very disoriented for the past week. My laptop decided to crash and burn on New Year’s Eve and I have been limping along, using my old laptop while my current one is in the shop. I’m not the most disciplined at backing up my data and I haven’t even begun to see what my last restore data point is so I’m not sure how much I lost, but I for sure lost my most recent work, including notes, readings, website links, research, etc. for sermons from probably September, 2014 through at least February, 2015, as well as personal things– such as recent poetry and journal entries I’ve written.

I was telling Kat, our office administrator today, that the loss of my laptop with its current data makes me feel almost paralyzed, as if I’m not sure how to be in this world without this information. I don’t know how to get to point B because I’m not sure where point A was located.

I have all the old history archived, of course, going back to the very beginning of my time at All Souls, and I have boxes of hard copy archives as well– old sermons, notes, journal– in boxes in my garage. Of course, I haven’t gone through any of that in ages so I’m not sure why it’s important that I have it, only that I feel reassured that I can dig through the past to re-discover what I discovered then, to remember my lessons, to see mistakes I’ve made and not make them again, to rediscover moments of triumph, of epiphanies, of love given and received, joy that was shared, forgiveness that was given, and grace, too.

We need to have access to our past, I think, so that we don’t become untethered from our history, so that we can retrace our steps and find point A once again. Otherwise, we might find ourselves going around in circles, or repeating lessons we really did know once.

This is true, of course, in a broader perspective as well. As the old adage goes, those who don’t remember their past are doomed to repeat. I would add that those who don’t remember the past are also more likely to miss how it is connected to the present.

This Sunday we will be celebrating the 124th anniversary of the founding of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. As we do each Founder’s Day, we will be revisiting the history of our congregation, metaphorically opening up the old photo albums, blowing dust off the tops of boxes of memorabilia and see how we got to be where we are today, thanks to the commitment and passion and dedication of those in the past who worked hard to be a liberal religious voice in Colorado Springs, who stood arm in arm with those seeking social justice through all those times– the suffragettes, the civil rights movement, the feminist movement and the lgbt rights movement. One of our ministers, Rev. Orloff Miller, was present in Selma, AL and, along with two other white UU minsters, was with Unitarian Universalist minister, James Reebe when they were jumped by a gang of white men as they left a restaurant with some black leaders. In that attack, Rev. James Reebe was mortally wounded.

Incredibly, this March marks the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery, AL, organized and led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It marks the 50th anniversary of the murder of James Reebe and Unitarian Universalist lay leader, Viola Liuzzo, who both answered the call to go to Selma as allies to the African American community.

What have we learned since then? What are the lessons we still need to learn? How is what is happening in our present world, with black, unarmed men being killed by people in authority positions at an alarming rate, linked to that event?

It took three attempts for the march to be successful. Averaging 10 miles a day, the marchers finally left Selma on March 21, and arrived at the State Capitol on March 25. It may not seem like much distance was covered, but, in fact, it was one of the most significant marches in recent memory, measured not by miles, but by lives impacted.

This Sunday, January 11, I would like to invite those of you who are local to join me, members of the NAACP and other faith communities in seeing the movie "Selma" at the Cinemark Tinseltown theater at Circle and Lake. We will be attending the 3:50 PM matinee and then gathering afterward for a discussion. For those who live elsewhere, I encourage you to see the film with others, as well. This is one box of history that we cannot afford to let gather dust in our garages or basements or attics. This is a film, this is a moment in history that we need to re-visit now, if we are to make sense of what’s happening today, and be a part of the solution rather than the problem. As we do, we can draw inspiration and strength from our predecessors at All Souls who also bravely and passionately answered the call of their day, to make a place of justice and equity for all. Let us not grow weary in the work of love.

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