Rituals of Sustenance

Welcome to week four of Thirty Days of Love 2017. We hope you find these resources and reflections of use to the work you do from your congregation to your community and beyond.

Click here for the downloadable companion worksheet on sustenance and movements. It provides both spiritual reminders as well as a number rituals and practices to sustain you and yours for the work ahead. These activities were first published in our Fortify The Movement Chapbook as part of last Fall’s #ReviveLove Tour. Once you’ve done that, consider checking out a video from our Organizing on the Side of Love online course on life cycles of movements you can find here

Since the last election, we know that hundreds of thousands of people who care about human rights, progressive values and social justice have proclaimed a commitment - both new and renewed - to rolling up their sleeves and working for justice. We know this from data, and I have also seen and heard it in my own life. Others of us feel weary because we feel that we were already living a very robust daily commitment to justice. Some of us might even feel a little bit grumpy like: "Where were all these people before?" Unitarian Universalists have worked hard to be faithful followers of leading social justice causes and movements. We have a legacy of making commitments to this kind of work, and like all commitments sometimes we do better than others. In this moment, I urge us to look at our engagement with a focus on deepening our commitment, reflecting on it, and figuring out how to bring a spirit of welcome to those new to social justice struggles. 

The word 'commitment' implies the a long-term dedication. Thus, we need to think about how commitments can be sustained. Whatever our commitment is, it can help to ask ourselves: Why this commitment? Am I going deep enough? Where is my ego in this commitment? Does my commitment serve anyone besides myself? If so, who and how? 

Similarly, if the commitment matters enough to make, it helps to figure out how to sustain it. We might have some ideas as we make a commitment about how it can be sustained. We might be totally wrong. Fifteen years ago, I committed my life to movement building. I thought that a daily spiritual practice would be the main way I sustained myself in that commitment. In truth, my daily practice has ebbed and flowed, sometimes I have honored it better than other times. My practice itself has changed in some ways over the years. But, in actuality, being of use to movements and individual leaders I love has been a huge sustaining factor. I had no idea how much mentoring and coaching other organizers would sustain and deepen my commitment. I had no idea how much transformative campaigns would 'fill up my commitment gas tank'. Sometimes we have to be open to different ways we can be sustained.

No matter how we keep our commitments, they are rarely sustained alone--most of us need comrades on the journey, not only in order to keep our commitments but to help us grow them when they have become too rigid and small. In these times, now more than ever, we must continue to grow the constellation of comrades willing, able and ready to resist, together. I'm grateful to be on this journey with you.


Caitlin Breedlove
Campaign Director Standing on the Side of Love

Image from Creative Commons Wikimedia