Err on the side of love

With love in her heart for herself, her worth, her dignity, and her path, blessed by her ancestors, and with hope for all those yet to come, a young girl knocked on a door.

I’m with a group of clergy from all over the country, gathered in southern Arizona. We are here to ground and grow our prophetic ministries through a 18 month professional development program of the UU Ministers Association along with Side with Love.

At this moment, we’re at a congregation here in the borderlands witnessing to the stories of three of their leaders. Sarah is telling us about first time she heard a knock on her door from someone seeking her support. Outside was a 13 year old girl, alone, with bloody feet, with love in her heart. Sarah was new to southern Arizona and did not know what to do. She gave the girl water and called border patrol. Sarah told us the feeling of holding someone’s future in her hands. Of being able to shape fate.

She promised herself she would find another way for the next time. She made it her goal to meet the people she would need to know, to learn what she needed to learn so that next time there was a knock in her door she could make a very different set of choices. Choices toward freedom. Toward love. Now when there is a knock at the door of her home or the congregation she is part of, she knows what to do. She knows who can provide medical care and how to gather the clean socks and her husband’s spare pants and how to quickly ready the room near her house that folks can stay there as they need to. She is clear about the risks she takes and the ones she does not. She says she is a working person and there are some risks that are not her role right now. But she knows who does take those risks and how to call them. She told us she knows she has close friends who don’t agree with her, who would be shocked by what she does.

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How well did you love?

That’s the question that Sarah believes she’ll be asked when she meets her creator, when her time with this world falls away.

It’s grown dark since our group left Nogales, Arizona and the stars are bright in the sky, competing for attention with the surveillance lights of the wall. Sarah tells us she does not have the answers but knows that if she is going to err, she wants to err on the side of love.

We sing and pray and sing some more. One of our facilitators Rev. Rhetta Morgan has written a song for this evening of witness and storytelling. She leads us in singing “I see you and the healing work you do as the doorway to all hearts. May we be the reflection that you see. Pure love. Rebellious love. Fierce love. Humble love. Pure Love.”

This is the love that those who knock on Sarah’s door bring. Love for family, for self, for dignity. Love for children and elders and land. Love that persists past the violence of the state. Love that is steadfast, honoring of the preciousness of life in the face of great harm. Love that shapes our own fate. Many of us there that night hold the stories of ourselves or our ancestors who knocked on stranger’s doors hoping that the door might be answered by someone with love in their heart.

This Valentine’s Day may we who are fighting for survival connect to the love of our ancestors and ourselves.

May we who answer the knock on the door be love.

May we learn what we need to learn.

May we build the relationships we need to build.

May we witness to each other and the healing work we do.

If we err, may we err on the side of love.