What Does It Mean to Be a People of Integrity?

A Poem to Guide Us
Introduction by the Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

Beloveds, the first theme for this new year—“What does it mean to be a people of integrity?”— resonates like a thunderclap through my core. And one particular resource for exploring this theme, from the many
suggested by our Soul Matters Sharing Circle, instantly rings true for me.

The poem, “I cannot prove to you that I am/we are human” by my amazing colleague Rev. Theresa Inés Soto, draws a resounding “yes!” from my deepest intuition.  Their words make my aching heart sing again. They offer guidance in these times when integrity is in short supply among some of our most public figures. They offer assurance of the inherent worth and beauty of every body and everybody, especially those too often diminished or dehumanized in this country’s culture. They underscore our faith’s fundamental call: to have the “courage to love.” They remind me how to live.

We will explore all of these themes in worship and small-group ministry sessions this month. As the new year begins, please devote some precious time to pondering this poem and the other resources you discover on the
theme of integrity. What draws a resounding “yes!” from your spirit? What makes your heart sing with the reminders and assurance you long for? What guides you toward the best and truest expression of your life, your values, your self? And how will you bring these guides and commitments into the covenant of our community life this year? These are not small questions. But we must not restrict ourselves, who are capable of so much, to small questions. Please join me, dear ones, in a year of renewed growth and integrity.

With all my love,
Rev. Nancy

“I cannot prove to you that I am/we are human”
by the Rev. Theresa I. Soto

reprinted by permission from the author
from Spilling the Light: Meditations on Hope and
Resilience (Skinner House, 2019)

I cannot prove to you that
I am a person. But you can
hold my hand, cool and dry,
while we pray, or just
breathe, ragged breaths
catching on our aching

I cannot prove to you that
brown skin is holy, that
Black skin is sacred,
but you can know it,
luminous and irrepressible,
the tabernacle of your own

I cannot even
prove to you that every
queer body, every trans and enby
body, every ace and bisexual body
sings back to the universe its
immense generative power of

I cannot prove to you with
quadratic certainty that what
a disabled body holds is a story
of wisdom beyond perfection,
like a red sun emerging from
behind a cloud of dust.
So the answers that I have
for a country hacking up
a death rattle, and a democracy
with a wheezing, waxy pallor
are about our courage to

Our desperation, not only for survival
but also to tread above the worst
of our collective nature. and to get
each other free, unashamed that
there came a day when we were
willing to risk looking foolish
to simply stay
together and alive.