We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.
~Rep. John Lewis
The month of July was a mix of rich blessings and personal challenges as we celebrated our young people bridging into adulthood and also mourned the loss of Civil Rights icons, Rep. John Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian.
Our first ever online Bridging ceremony took place from several locations with about a dozen different recordings. Last year we gathered in the safety and comfort of our sanctuaries, rejoicing and singing together, greeting one another with smiles and hugs, having no clue that the simple act of sitting next to another human would become an issue less than a year later.
We could not have predicted what our days, our services, or our lives and relationships would look like in the face of a world-wide pandemic.
We couldn’t have imagined restaurant closings or toilet paper shortages or the need to suddenly begin sewing face masks for our congregation. Nor could we have imagined tear gas and rubber bullets launched at peaceful protestors to pave a clear path for a photo opp in front of a church as a falsely elected leader held up a Bible while citizens around him suffered at his hand.
We, along with the entire world, are experiencing a number of firsts in our history, and with an inability to predict what lies ahead, we’re learning to take this shared reality one day at a time.
In the midst of this pandemic, we experienced the death of George Floyd which seemed to serve as a tipping point (may it continue to be so) for our collective tolerance of a system built on racism and oppression. Soon to follow would be the loss of heroes to many of us, Civil Rights icons Rep. John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian. As Rev. Vance would say about these protests, both local and beyond–especially in Portland: “People do not choose rebellion, it is forced upon them. Revolution is always an act of self-defense.”
There are many facets to life right now–
The beauty of nature which has benefited from less human interference; concern over the unknown; and the power of love which remains in the face of any obstacle.
Last month, we watched our three young Unitarian Universalist bridgers prepare to launch from the cozy nest of home into a strange, new world. They each offered us inspiring words, and their parents presented each of them with words of support and encouragement as well.
This “sending forth” ritual is one of my favorites among our Unitarian Universalist practices. In essence, we’re saying: We recognize your growth and abilities. Go. Be. Explore. Become. And know that your church family is right here for you, your home base, the people who will love you no matter what.
We are here for you, Allie, Cady, and Sophia. May we be here for one another. I leave you with this final quote from Rep. Lewis, believing it wholeheartedly:
“You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone – any person or any force – dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant.”
~From Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America
Stay safe and be of good heart,
~Rev. Mary Frances