Sep 22 2017

October Journal: What does it mean to be a people of COURAGE?

Published by at 7:02 pm under Minister's Musings

In Our Own Voices: What does it mean to be a people of COURAGE?
 
“In Our Own Voices” shares congregants’ free-flowing responses to the theme of the month. We draw these responses from on-line surveys and use them in creating worship, small-group ministry content, and other opportunities for spiritual growth.
Your responses to this month’s prompt—“What does it mean to be a people of courage?” —are bracing. I feel energized and strengthened just from reading them. Even those who ask the tough questions make me feel more awake and alive, more capable of acting courageously—especially if we are all in this together.  
The journeys we take through our themes this year ask us not just to grow as individuals but also to grow as a community. I wonder, then, dear ones, how we shall grow into our Unitarian Universalist identity as “a people of courage” over the course of this month and the months to come?
 
Always seeking to grow with you,
Rev. Nancy
 
Meanings of Courage
·        Courage can mean many things. I think of courage as showing up, standing up, speaking up for what we believe in, what our heart calls to us to say.
·        To be a people of courage means standing up for rights that are too often forgotten. It means being caring when the majority is careless or worse. It also means listening and learning to be an ally. Courageous people don’t always need to be the leader, particularly if it’s time to hear from a less outspoken, but worthy, culture, race, or non-mainstream people.
·        It means to stand up for what we believe, even in the difficult times. Support others as allies during difficult times. Come to church services when we are exploring difficult subjects.
·        Courage is taking action based on principle despite one’s fears. If you are not afraid, then it doesn’t take courage.
·        Exploring the unknown
·        Taking on the difficult tasks
·        It means to speak your mind, even if your voice shakes. It means to push through your discomfort or apathy in order to take action for a more just society. It means to allow yourself to be vulnerable, to be open, and sometimes to just be quiet and listen.
 
What’s the Source of Courage?
·        What’s the source of courage in an individual or a community? We need to have something to which our loyalty, love, and commitment surpass our fear of harm. I think about those People of Courage—many beloved Unitarian Universalist friends among them—who walked down the street in Charlottesville this past August and then surrounded the park where the white supremacists/neo-Nazis were gathered, some with an intent to do harm. My friends embodied courage because their sense of connection and accountability to those most targeted by that harm surpassed their fear of being harmed themselves. I have been at rallies, demonstrations, civil disobedience actions, and marches where my fear of hurt and harm has overwhelmed me, almost paralyzed me. It’s time for me to strengthen those Courage muscles in the face of my fears. I bet such strengthening applies to all circumstances where we need courage—not just the social-justice experiences I mention, but in our personal lives too. To be a people of Courage, we have to strengthen those muscles and find a deeper source than our fears.
·        “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” ~Ambrose Redmoon
 
Courage to Fulfill Our Mission
·        Do we have the courage to actually Make Love Visible in ALL we say or do? I often hear people speaking badly of people they don’t agree with. When people hear us insult our country’s leaders, even if we strongly disagree with those leaders, have we “made love visible in all we say and do”? We certainly do not need to agree with anyone to show them love.
 
What Do People of Courage Do?
·        We acknowledge our fears; look to one another for affirmation, validation, and acceptance; and dare to move forward, knowing that we are not alone.
·        Do things which make us feel uncomfortable, but which will help us grow. Do things which make us feel afraid so we feel our heart beat more (cuore = heart), but will make our love more visible.
·        Balancing courage and self-protection. In this day, be courageous to do the right thing. Stand up for someone who is being bullied. Parents and teachers need training on how to deal with bullying, cyber-bullying, and playground bullying.
·        Be willing to express disagreements when among likeminded folks who all share the same point of view. Resist the temptation to give knee-jerk responses to ideas without examining them more impartially.
·        We need to be willing to do what is right, even if there are financial implications, fear of getting arrested, fear of community disapproval.
·        In a way that is harmless and truthful, we speak to and act on all areas of injustice. This means standing up for those whose voices are not being heard or standing against even those we normally agree with but who are not acting in a manner befitting a welcoming people.
·        We need to stand up and be counted for the causes we believe in, at every opportunity—without making a pest of ourselves. When there’s an opportunity, do good, even though it always takes some effort and may involve moving outside our comfort zone.

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