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Thirty Days of Love: Composting & Watering

Welcome to Week 4 of Thirty Days of Love 2018. Next week you’ll get our final message alongside spiritual resources: an ancestor to ground us, art to inspire, and a podcast recommendation to keep us learning. We hope you find these resources and reflections of use to the work you do from your congregation to your community and beyond.

This week our theme is Composting & Watering: Spiritual Sustenance. Where am I empty and what do I need to fill my communities' collective cup? How do I make sure we have what we most need?

We honor our ancestor Fannie Barrier Williams; share oh gentleness by Katie Blanchard; and recommend you check out the podcast Reflection on Belonging on Healing Justice Podcast with Prentis Hemphill: healer, somatics practitioner, organizer and former Healing Justice Director of Black Lives Matter. We encourage you to read more about the legacy and offering of Healing Justice from them here. And if you haven’t yet, check out the Thirty Days of Love 2018 All-Ages Activities by Rev. Marisol Caballero. Next week we’ll be back with our final message on Lessons for the Next Season: Praxis. Stay tuned!

Spiritual Sustenance can be about filling ourselves and each other up to be sure we have what we need. In last week’s message, we talked about the need to each take a shift - inspired by Rev. Ashley Horan - in our justice work. We create the team and community to be able to “take a shift” not only by building other folks leadership, but by figuring out what sustains us and each other for the long term. Worms point us to this symbiotic relationship of mutuality and collective care - worms find themselves nourished by others' waste, their waste in turn nourishing the soil where things are able to grow. If our justice work is rooted in community and truly connected, where do we receive this nourishment to keep going? Where do we offer nourishment and fortification to others? Are there places where you could incorporate some spiritual practices more or differently into your work? Check out this prayer for when you want to do something spiritual but are really nervous.

An ancestor: Fannie Barrier Williams was an activist, author and speaker who wrote and organized exhaustively about the experiences of and discrimination against Black women. Throughout her time, Fannie Barrier Williams called attention to the racial, gender-based, and economic discrimination - systemic and interpersonal -  Black women faced across the U.S. She called upon clergy and people of faith to deepen their own theology to grapple with the role of faith communities in confronting white supremacy:  “Less theology and more of human brotherhood, less declamation and more common sense and love for truth, must be the qualifications of the new ministry that shall yet save the race from the evils of false teaching.”  Her work called upon people organizing for racial justice and gender justice to see their work as connected, and the necessity of centering Black women to make that work possible. Over the course of her life, Barrier Williams would go on to support the founding of a number of national organizations, arts and cultural clubs, and a hospital in addition to becoming a leading social activist and public speaker. Some of her work can be seen in The New Woman of Color: The Collected Writings of Fannie Barrier Williams, 1893-1918. Read more about her life here.

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An invitation: Prioritizing building and deepening our own and collective practices is not always easy. The scale of threats are massive - and building in time to take care of ourselves and each other is essential. For some of us, this may mean asking other folks to tap in, moving back or finding a new rhythm. For others, this may require honest and direct conversations with ourselves about our needs and the container that would be appropriate to hold or respond to them. To recognize when stepping back is actually just stepping out. That sometimes we are indeed spiritually more hearty than we are willing to acknowledge. That as we develop and deepen our spiritual sustenance, we also need rigor and support to grow the other skills we need to do our work. And a recognition that we tend to ourselves not to prevent hard times from coming, but because of who we want to be and become.

The offering: We hope this short curated list of resources is of use as you create, affirm and expand the practices that support and return you to the work. Do you have a favorite resource - either about sustenance or that has brought you spiritual nourishment? We would love to know at love@uua.org.

Onward with love,

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Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Strategic Advisor, Side with Love (right)

Nora Rasman, Campaign Manager, Side with Love (left)