Lifted up at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville on August 30th, 2015.
In this sanctuary, and beyond its walls, are people who are trapped in a cycle of systemic racism, built on a legacy of slavery. They wonder, at the beginning of each day, how will they be disrespected, bullied, harmed, erased? How will they be treated as less than they are? They wish for others to listen to their stories, to acknowledge their suffering. They dream of a time when everyone will recognize that they matter… that they have always mattered.
In this sanctuary, and beyond its walls, are people grieving the loss of two journalists. They are remembering the hundreds of others also lost to gun violence just this year, and the thousands in years past. They are angry at leaders who express sorrow at these incidents and do nothing to change why they happen. They are bitter at how some who are lost are remembered better than others.
In this sanctuary and beyond its walls are people who have been taught that they are not worthy of love and respect because of how they look. They live through an onslaught of cultural and media messages that tell us who is too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too dark, too pale, too female, too distracting, too nonconforming… too disturbing. They deprecate themselves, and the next generation witnesses, and the distress continues on.
In this sanctuary and beyond its walls are people who feel stuck where they are. Some have jobs where they feel unfulfilled, or are mistreated by their co-workers, but they cannot afford to quit without risking access to food, shelter, and healthcare. Some want to go back to school, but don’t have the resources to avoid crippling debt. Some don’t have work at all, and spend every day wondering how to survive to the next.
At the same time, in this sanctuary and beyond its walls are people who are saying hello to new schools, new classrooms, new jobs, and new homes. They are immersed in excitement and anxiety. There are people who are saying goodbye, to their children, to their friends, to places, people, and things that have given them comfort and love.