“Keep Fresh Before Us …”: Commitments That We’re Called to Make and to Renew!

March Theme: Commitment

Dearly Loved Community,

In this month of March 2021, we hit the one-year anniversary of the pandemic shutdown. Surely we have lived several lifetimes in the course of these twelve months, haven’t we? What we’ve lost, what we’ve learned, what we’ve gained, what we’ve come to understand in new ways during this year could fill volumes—and our stories form just one side of a many-faceted prism reflecting the experiences of neighbors and kindred from across town to around the world. We’ll be digesting and integrating these stories for generations. And we still have more experiences to go!

Friends, as March begins, I’m as weary as many of you are. I’m as worried—about long-lasting economic impacts, about the life-cost of this pandemic to those already on the margins in our striated society, about the negative effects on all our lives and souls, no matter our social location—as the most astute social critics. I’m as cautious in my optimism—about when we’ll return to in-person gatherings, about when we can meet without masks on, about how we’ll meet the many challenges ahead—as the most grounded scientists and the most inspiring organizers.

Yet what rises up for me above all the rest is the opportunity that this month offers: to honor our resilience in arriving at this day. To remember what matters most to us and celebrate that. To reflect on those moments when we have lived truest to our values. To dedicate ourselves again, to commit and recommit, to Making Love Visible in all we say and do, with a new depth of understanding about what that means, born of this year’s trials.

The Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman, in his 1961 book The Inward Journey, offers a prayer that speaks to this moment, our moment. You’ll find the prayer in this newsletter near this essay. In this piece, he talks about how we can have moments when we feel so fully on track with our lives, so lifted up by what we know is good and true—yet how easily we forget what these moments have taught us. He speaks to the wear and tear of life, which surely we have experienced exponentially in this extraordinary time. He describes the “the dust and grit of the journey” that make us lose sight of what’s most important, of what we’re actually here on the earth to do. And he asks—he reminds his best self—to “keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.”

In our online gatherings with FUCSJ this month—in worship and small groups, at coffees and lunches and more—we’ll use music and memory, visits from special guests and time set aside for deep reflection in order to reconnect with our moments of high resolve. Please join us for this month of remembering and recommitting! Every Sunday’s worship, unique and profound, will give us energy for the work and the love that are ours to give.

With my love and my commitment,

Rev. Nancy


“The Moments of My High Resolve”
by Howard Thurman, from The Inward Journey

Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.

Despite the dullness and barrenness of the days that pass, if I search with due diligence, I can always find a deposit left by some former radiance. But I had forgotten. At the time it was full-orbed, glorious, and resplendent. I was sure that I would never forget. In the moment of its fullness, I was sure that it would illumine my path for all the rest of my journey. I had forgotten how easy it is to forget.

There was no intent to betray what seemed so sure at the time. My response was whole, clean, authentic. But little by little, there crept into my life the dust and grit of the journey. Details, lower-level demands, all kinds of cross currents—nothing momentous, nothing overwhelming, nothing flagrant—just wear and tear. If there had been some direct challenge—a clear-cut issue—I would have fought it to the end, and beyond.

In the quietness of this place, surrounded by the all-pervading Presence of God [of Love, of the Holy], my heart whispers: Keep fresh before me the moments of my High Resolve, that in fair weather or in foul, in good times or in tempests, in the days when the darkness and the foe are nameless or familiar, I may not forget that to which my life is committed.

Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.