Thirty Days of Love: Growing Our Ecosystem

Welcome to Thirty Days of Love 2018. For the next four weeks, we will be sharing a 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 Growing Our Ecosystem. Yesterday, we observed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - witnessing the vision for justice articulated by Black organizers and activists still today. We are thinking about the vision we hold for our world. What is the ecosystem, forest, garden, wild space that we are trying to grow? Who is the crew with you on this journey?

We honor our ancestor Lewis McGee, share Tiny Shiny Hope by Katie Blanchard, offer an invitation to try a practice and recommend you check out the Healing Justice podcast. Check out the Thirty Days of Love 2018 All-Ages Activities by Rev. Marisol Caballero. Next week we’ll be back with our second message on good soil, good seeds. Stay tuned!

There is so much in the mix these days. At Side with Love we are in deep about how everything we do, however tiny and mundane, can be part of the big vision we hold. We’re returning to the rhythms of plants and animals and fungi and water, that hold so much wisdom as metaphors and inspiration. So today we begin with Growing Our Ecosystem. If we know the ecosystem that our values are calling us toward, then we know what to plant, what to let go of, what to tend, what to shed, and who we need with us - the composters, the waterers, the gardners.

An Ancestor: Rev. Dr. Lewis McGee was born in 1893 and he held a vision of Black humanism and of multiracial spiritual community. And he knew his vision required an ecosystem where we could each play our role. He wrote in a 1961 sermon, “A community of humans calls for the cooperation of persons having different functions; it needs butchers and bakers, teachers and toy-makers, prophets and politicians and physicians, artists and airline pilots.” Learn more about Lewis McGee’s ministry as you consider what you can offer - are you a baker or teacher or prophet or artist? And who else you need by your side?

An Invitation: If everything we do can be part of a wider vision, if every moment of weeding and watering can be part of the bigger garden, we are challenged to explore how we embody our values, even in our hardest moments. We’re inviting you to use 30 Days of Love to try a practice that you want to embody. Pick a habit you want to take from occasional to muscle memory. A skill you want to learn or sharpen. And use the next 30 days as an opportunity to practice. Folks say we need to do something 300 times for muscle memory and 3000 times to embody it. So go easy on yourself if this is your first time, your 10th or your 30th. Looking for inspiration? The Healing Justice Podcast offers mini-episodes that guide you through practices ranging from gratitude, to spell-casting to conflict mapping and here’s a curated list of some to try.  

The Vision: Interdependence means none of us are free until we are all free. Inherent dignity means none of us are disposable. The garden seek to grow is one with no prisons, no violence, no borders. And right now, for many of us the garden seems impossible to imagine. And yet, each day, we gather the seeds, we find another gardner, we plant our first row. There are so many ways that we can embody our values now and aim for the forest where we are all free. We believe transformative justice is one way that we can hold the vision of the ecosystem we need and nourish that world right now. Get energized by visiting some of these writings on transformative justice by Mariame Kaba and Shira Hassan, Mia Mingus and adrienne maree brown.  

Tiny Shiny Hope by Kate Blanchard.jpg

Hopefully you saw our note last week about our new name, Side with Love. We know that singular change can undo harm caused and that our work around accessibility, disability justice and inclusion requires our ongoing commitment, focus and care. It is our hope that it is one more seed for the vision, one more way to embody the world we want now.

One more way to live our values - in the past we have often invited folks to engage in Share the Love Sunday. This year, we are joining with Black Lives of UU and our UUA to ask that you engage in the Promise and the Practice of Our Faith Campaign. Worship materials are here and as one of the suggested Sundays for the Promise and the Practice is February 8, 2018 so we invite you, in whatever form make sense to you - whether that is Sunday morning worship, a leisurely brunch, drinks with friends or afternoon tea, on February 8th or another day, to gather, connect with spirit using these materials and financial commitment in support to BLUU that is transformational and inspirational and a long-term commitment to dismantling white supremacy, racism and oppression from within our denomination and beyond, and uplifting the Black Lives, Voices, and Leadership of Unitarian Universalism.

Mia Mingus writes, “This is not about perfection, but practice. Falling down and getting back up. Spectacular failures and learning how we can be and do better. Resilience in the face of fear; Humility in the face of ego; Faith in the face of hopelessness. This is about understanding organizing as a spiritual practice that is just as much about our souls as it is about our goals.”

Let us grow this garden, this forest, this vision,


Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Senior Strategist, Side with Love (right)

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