STLT#179, Words That We Hold Tight

I have little to say this morning. In fact, most of what I have to say in this hurried morning will be below the lyrics.

But I will say WOW, these this song is timely. I appreciate it when this spiritual practice meets the times, even I grumble going through it – because it always has something to say to me.

Today’s lyrics, based on a text by Bishop Dr. Adedeji Ishola, who founded the Unitarian Brotherhood of Lagos, Nigeria in 1919 – and set to a traditional Yoruba tune – speak volumes to us today. “What will undo us is not our friend.” and “when we are raging, needing to med, show us, O spirit, how to befriend.” Wow.

This is a beautiful, prayerful, important song for us today.

Words that we hold tight won’t let us go.
Paths we don’t follow will haunt us so.
What will undo us is not our friend.
Show us, O spirit, how to befriend.

(Chorus)
Show us how to forgive.
To all who live, show us forgiveness
that we may live.

To speak of loving is not to love.
Lies move among us, below, above.
When we are raging, needing to mend,
show us, O spirit, how to befriend.

(Chorus)

When love is doubtful, choice is not clear,
we turn to worship to cast out fear.
Teach us forgiveness, make love our end.
Show us, O spirit, how to befriend.

(Chorus)

I have a lot of opinions about the events of the past week, but I’m unfortunately running late due to a very sleepless night; thus, I will just share my edited version of something my colleague Cynthia Landrum wrote to offer some explanation for what the heck has been going on and why there’s a sea change happening in our movement:

On Thursday, two very different — and separate — pieces of painful news happened in the UU sphere:

The first issue is that a UU minister was arrested on charges of child pornography. He was a respected and well-connected colleague, and this is sending a shock wave through our association. I know him a little bit personally, and always found him to be a true pastor, living our our call to love our neighbor – his congregation is part church, part food bank. There seems to be little doubt to his guilt, as he has made admissions to the police. My heart goes out to his congregation and family, and to close colleagues of his, all of whom I’m sure are dealing with pain, grief, and shock.

The second issue is that in recent days our Unitarian Universalist Association has been in a crisis as we come to grips with the painful reality of our own racism, classism, and sexism and how that has affected hiring practices in our association, among other issues.

Not surprisingly, there have been many public statements on this from various groups and individuals in our association over the last week, seeking a systemic review of our policies and practices and calling our leadership back into covenant with the members of the denomination and our reflow religionists around the country.

Our UUA President, Peter Morales, had responded to the situation in an open letter that unfortunately escalated the situation. Today, despite his not being the decision maker in the hire that cause the controversy, Morales resigned, effective April 1, from his term that was to end in June, after the election of our next president at General Assembly. You can read more about this story here, here, and here.

It has been a hard few days leading up to Thursday, and definitely a hard day Thursday. It is a day fraught with anger, hurt, sadness, and frustration.

Our faith will remain strong. We will do the tough work to keep our leadership accountable and to examine how systemic racism, classism, and sexism have harmed us from the top of the denomination to our smallest congregations. And we will hold those in pain as they navigate the distrust and distress.

But it has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Unitarian Universalists.

No real meaning for the image today. It reflects peace and insight, something I pray for today.

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