A Letter from the Minister: In this time of grief

October 31, 2018

Beloved UCM community,

The events of the past few days have been truly heart breaking.

The mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this past weekend was a  horrendous event in our life as a nation. Weaponized anti-semitism, white supremacy, and white nationalism have proven to be deadly once again.

Sadly, this seems to be a growing pattern. The shooting in Pittsburgh was preceded by the fatal shooting of two African-Americans in a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky on October 24. The shooter had attempted to enter a historically black church but upon finding the doors locked found another place to carry out his act of hate.

Bigotry, hate, fear, and discord are very present and pose real threats to many of us — Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, queer and trans people, people of color, immigrants, refugees. This isn’t an entirely new reality, yet it is painful and difficult to face.

I know, too, that love is also very present right now. It is our love that makes our hearts break and fill with bottomless pain in these moments as we feel the anguish of such deep division all across our country. It is love that is drawing communities together to stand in vigil for the lives lost and to assert that hate and fear will not have the last word.

In times like these, what are we to do? I know I don’t have all the answers. I think we begin with these simple practices – Hold our loved ones tightly. Shower one another with kindness. Breathe deeply. Weep heavily. Name the good.

We can also use our voices to combat hateful speech with loving speech. We can learn how to disrupt hate, racism, xenophobia, and transphobia when we encounter it. We can reach out to our friends and neighbors who we know are under attack to express our solidarity.

We can insist on doing what we can to keep one another safe and to stay faithful to love and peace despite the strong forces that feed on fear, division, and hatred.

We can also channel our grief, whether it has taken the form of sadness, anger, numbness or all of the above, into hopeful action. This coming Election Day offers us one concrete way to move into action by voting and encouraging our friends, family, and neighbors to vote as well.

In the midst of the pain and upheaval of our broader world, in our spiritual community we continue to honor the beauty of our humanity and the cycle of life and death.

Please note that memorial services have been scheduled for both Dave Armstrong and Betty Davis. The service for Dave will take place on Tuesday, November 13th at 10am, and the service for Betty will take place on Sunday, November 18th at 2pm.

I continue to hold you all in my prayers and hope that you will hold me in yours as well.

May you touch the depths of despair and trust that you will find a way back.
May you have strength to say the words that need to be said and wisdom to know when silence is all that’s needed.
May you find courage to carry on when all feels hollow and to continue to act for justice even when the outcome is uncertain.
May you know yourself as beloved and bound to a tenacious and ever-present Love that, despite it all, endures.

Yours in grief, love, and faith,