Here is an opportunity to reinforce our allegiance to the moral conviction of possibility. Our inspirational resources will include both published and in-house poetry and the words of Martin Luther King Jr. We have all been touched by the vivid commitment to a vision of possibilities in MLK’s infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. Who else will provide us with inspiration, clarity, and strength to journey in the world of “What if” and Why not”? Come travel with us. Our Anthem today is “The Work of Christmas,” music by Dan Forrest and words by Howard Thurman.
“The work of Christmas begins:…/To bring peace among people,/To make music in the heart.”
Howard Thurman (1899 –1981) was an African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. As a prominent religious figure, he played a leading role in many social justice movements and organizations of the twentieth century. Thurman’s theology of radical nonviolence influenced and shaped a generation of civil rights activists, and he was a key mentor to leaders within the movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
Brattleboro-West Arts has become a fixture of our community’s vibrant art scene through exhibits, open studio events, public forums and creative workshops. This year, its members felt moved to share a positive message about the current political climate with the community.
All Souls Church at The West Village Meeting House has also become a fixture in the community. Known for our progressive Worship, welcoming community, and commitment to peace and justice, All Souls Church supports local artists by providing gallery space in which they can display their works.
During this service of Worship ASC will gratefully receive and dedicate the “Art Connects US” flag created by 14 BWA members in 2017. The flag beautifully captures the aspirational aspect of the United States and will serve as a constant encouragement and reminder for us all to reach for those aspirations.
Based on the American flag, the “Art Connects US” mixed-media piece comprises 13 stripes and one rectangular field, each its own work of textile art by a BWA artist that gives voice to issues ranging from immigration to the environment to women’s rights.
The artists intentionally created this piece in a positive light to encourage community building and inclusivity. These values are so central to the Unitarian Universalist Faith, when we were approached by BWA to permanently house the flag we jumped at the chance.
The flag was carried by BWA members in the 2017 Strolling of the Heifers parade in Brattleboro. Then it was hung in the Brooks House Atrium for a time. It was also previously displayed in the window of Key Bank.
In addition to Mitchell and Slowinski, the following artists contributed panels to the flag: Jackie Abrams, Julia Bacon, Marta Bernbaum, Kay Curtis, Lesley Heathcote, Karen Kamenetzky, Naomi Lindenfeld, Stephen Lloyd, Edith Mas, Kris McDermet, Sharon Myers and Jennifer Wiechers.
More information about the flag may be found in this Reformer article.
Below you will find the three readings from our service this Sunday:
The Veil/ A Slant of Light by Ed Burke
October 30, 2018
We wear the thin veil irredeemably,
by that I mean unknowingly –
the shades are with us always,
in the glowing as well the gloaming.
It is the slant of light that reveals the mystery,
the passing sun allows the glimpse of what next
our eternal waits. The veil a thin mist, the voices
that we may or may not hear,
may or may not remember,
and some would swear foretell
if we are to be redeemed
when a thousand nights fall upon us
each waking hour – fall across our brows,
across our breath, upon our hearts,
within our veins. Veins carry the voices
through the mist, whispering through the veil:
“We have been where you are, you carry us.
You hear, so you have been here also.
You must remember.”
There are many who know what they carry,
who shouted last Thursday they would not be erased
by our President’s dictates, our government’s policies,
who gathered to chant, to invoke the spirit that binds us
together against the thousand blows that fall upon us
each day and fitful hour, upon those singled out last week;
the transgendered who refuse to be erased,
joined by those standing with them to swear, proclaim,
howl that the night shall not swallow them, remove them
from the light and the living. Because the veil has lifted
and they see, we see, and refuse to be blind or blinded.
The veil, thin veined, the passing
between this now and when before
the blood of memory, of synagogue slaughter,
in Pittsburg last Saturday.
The thousand blows descending upon the brows
the hearts, the breaths of the living and the dead,
the night against which the redeemed, the redeemable,
or simply we, so many together, glimpsed the horror
and bore witness to the light we hold, must hold
against the relentless dark. We gathered.
In the candles’ glow we mourned and vowed
to hold longer the brief lifting of the veil, to receive
the message from those before us: “Remember.
Do not let the flame extinguish, never
lose sight of what is and will be needed.”
We bathed in communal luminescence,
the wash of grief and resolute resistance.
We prayed. We parted, leaving loved ones
to return to loved ones, carrying the vision
shared and sworn upon when the slant of light
shone through, sacred.
Finding the Good in Every Experience by Tom McGuire
I believe every human being has the potential to be an inherently good person, and every experience, no matter how onerous, can create an opportunity to learn and benefit from the pain. Otherwise whatever the pain is, it can too often color our existence as one of only pain.
Trump is pitiable for his deluded and fetid mind. To see something good in everything doesn’t necessarily mean we see, for instance, cancer or violence as inherently good, but if we try to find good in the way we react, or comport ourselves, good can arise from even this bout with Trump. This country is long past needing a very honest reckoning.
If we can imagine good coming from a deeper understanding of the depths to which racism and misogyny, and greed lead this country in an ever-deepening downward cycle of wars for profit, paralyzing school to prison cycles for black children, a burgeoning oligarchy that is supremely “successful” at siphoning huge wealth out of the lives of the poor and middle class, then perhaps we will be motivated to change our systems in response.
Positive change may arise out of the tragic events. Until then, too many of us do nothing to change and instead we waddle through box stores using subprime credit cards to buy needless shit and drive home in a $50K leased SUV they couldn’t afford to REALLY own, etc., etc., etc.
I know many people who have survived both serious illness and substance abuse, for example. Some soared to new levels of appreciation and enlightenment, and some ended up in a fetus position of despair. In this context, perhaps “see something good in everything” has a plausible meaning.
Miss Helen by David Cohen
She was as if an ant
A persistent pest
Among rampaging elephants
They were tall with tusks
Totally in control
Determined, they were
That no one would pass
Without a Government-issued pass.
“The rules” they roared
And, she meekly at first
Quietly, befitting her slight
Stature, but no less determined
Issued continuing dissents
“Tis a free country” she said
Free air to breathe
To breathe free thoughts.
“Subversive” others exclaimed
When she freely expressed
Fresh thoughts of a nation
Which could be reunited
To use these wonderous resources
To build a common homeland
If, only if, the elephant
Bullies would mend their ways
A small voice for the voiceless
Too Elegant to be crushed
Too courageous to be dissuaded
Ever raising, in a rising chorus
Of new born equanimity.
The ant stubbornly suddenly stood tall
On the hallowed grounds she staked
Creating a mood of national reconciliation.
Miracle of miracle
In her lifetime, a micro minute
On history’s elongated pages
She outlasted the elephants
Loved to see the day
When freedom’s sunshine shone
Shown on the southern tip
Of the southern half of the hemisphere.
To Mrs. Helen Suzman
Dr. Moshe’s wife
One of the “mothers”
Of the new born nation
Of South Africa