Archive for March, 2017

Mar 24 2017

In Our Own Voices: The Boundaries That Heal and That Harm Us

Published by under Minister's Musings

“In Our Own Voices” shares congregants’ free-flowing responses to the theme of the month. We draw these responses from on-line surveys and other meetings. We use them in creating worship, small-group ministry content, and other opportunities for spiritual growth.
Congregants’ responses to this month’s theme, “The Boundaries That Heal and That Harm Us,” speak to our community’s commitment to undoing the boundaries of systemic oppression. They also wrestle with the need for personal boundaries and with how to set limits or say “no” when such responses are the healthy ones.
As we learn how to Make Love Visible in all we do and say, we need to look at boundaries from “both sides.” May these responses stir your own thoughts and actions.
With gratitude for how we grow together,
Rev. Nancy

• We need some boundaries, and we need to remove some others!
• This theme relates to March’s theme of Empathy. How do we understand and feel with another’s experience of the boundaries and borders that separate us? Empathy is a boundary crosser …
• Congregants’ experiences in the Beloved Community Movement, where we sit down and talk with community members, law enforcement, and elected officials, and then work for policy changes—that’s undoing boundaries that harm us.
• At FUCSJ we have been learning how to have Beloved Conversations around race, ethnicity, and class. Now, if we could get more people involved …
• I think of the movement called Black Lives of UU, calling us to live up to our faith’s commitment to undoing racism … in our own house! http://www.blacklivesuu.com/
• Bisexuality: its marginalization (not being seen or named) and the intense effects of that marginalization (including statistics about bi people)
• This is about having a sense of self-worth and integrity.
• How do I set boundaries with difficult people?
• How can I learn how to say “No”?
• Why is it so hard sometimes to set limits with others?
• How do I maintain a boundary for my own self and recognize the overlap of yours?
• Who are you and why are you? Might my perceptions of you be influenced by who am I?
• How do I understand when a boundary has been crossed?

• Bishop Yvette Flunder’s book, Where the Edge Gathers: Building a Community of Radical Inclusion
• A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness—a great HBO documentary from 2015
• “Draw the Circle Wide”—a favorite hymn!

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Mar 24 2017

April Theme: The Boundaries That Heal and That Harm Us

Published by under Minister's Musings

The Door in the Wall
by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

Did you see the ad that Lumber 84 created for February’s Super Bowl this year? Not the edited version that the Fox television network aired. Fox asked the company to cut out the “controversial parts.” The aired ad is titled “The Journey Begins.”
No, I want you to see the original version, called “The Entire Journey.” I hope you will watch it as a form of spiritual practice—a way of engaging with our April theme: The Boundaries That Heal and That Harm Us.
Super Bowl ads reach millions of people. This year, some companies’ ads use their visuals and casting to make a timely statement about who’s included and who’s not in the midst of a rising national rhetoric of disrespect and exclusion. The tools that ads use may be bold and blunt or subtle and shaded. But the choices the companies make mirror or challenge our current cultural climate. Paying attention to these social commentaries makes us smarter about how we fulfill our mission at First Unitarian—to Make Love Visible in all that we say and do.
So, please take a moment to center yourself, to breathe and open your mind and heart to what the senses may receive. Set aside what you may have heard about this ad or what you have felt when you watched it before. Set aside even what you feel about rampant, expensive commercialism. Just pay attention to the story, as you would to a movie or to a fable.
You can find the full ad here: http://journey84.com/#WatchTheEntireJourney. Let me describe what I see:
A mother and daughter wake at first light in a Latin American country. “Are you ready?” Mom asks. “Yes!” says the little girl. The mom slips snapshots of a missing loved one into her backpack. They kiss a grandfather goodbye. “Take care of yourself,” he says tenderly, and offers the girl a sweet treat to savor later on her journey. The leavetaking is poignant. Mother and daughter are migrants, seeking to unite their family on the other side of the border.
Mother and daughter pay to climb aboard a truck for the first part of the journey. Then they walk through long stretches of arid landscapes, follow train tracks, get hauled up into moving boxcars. They cross fields, move through canyons, ford creeks, run from the rain, sit at makeshift campfires. The girl collects scraps of plastic, woven material, stray buttons. They ask for precious sips of water from other migrants’ dusty bottles. The journey is long, hard, often lonely.
Interspersed with their trek we see images of workmen with clean cold water bottles in hand, transporting lumber, stapling materials together, pausing to admire their work. What are they building? Could it be a wall?
Sure enough, mother and daughter come over a rise and look down. Disappointment streaks their faces. The border wall snakes through the desert—a tall, slick boundary that stops them in their tracks. The little girl, seeing her mother’s tears, offers her the scraggly United States flag that she has pieced together from the scraps.
And then they notice a beam of light coming from a place in the wall that they can’t yet see. When they move toward it, they find a giant door in the wall. The workmen were building a door, not a wall! Mother and daughter push, and—amazingly—the door swings open, unlocked. They step forward into the dusty sunlit landscape on the other side. “The will to succeed is always welcome here” flashes across the screen.
What do you feel? If this ad is our theological text, what messages do you take away?
Company spokespeople have said that they did not intend to make a “political statement” with this ad. But the story has a life of its own. We see—we are meant to see—mother and daughter as members of our own family. The wall is a boundary that harms not just them, but us. We want them to arrive. If there’s a wall, it’s up to us to ensure that the door is huge and that it swings open, unlocked. We have work to do.
This month we acknowledge the boundaries that we do indeed need in order to stay safe and healthy—personal and communal boundaries that say no to abuse of all sorts. We also look at those boundaries that we need to tear down—in our hearts and minds, and in our culture. I hope you will join us!

Grateful to be with you for the Entire Journey,

Rev. Nancy

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