Welcome to Week 3 of Thirty Days of Love 2018. For the following two weeks, we will continue to share 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 Drought Times: Endurance and Commitment. How do we keep going? How do we persevere, carry the water we need and endure the lean times?
We honor our ancestor Whitney Young, share Rest and Replenish by Katie Blanchard and recommend you check out the podcast How To Survive the End of the World, nourishment specifically for the worst parts of the season. We’re thinking particularly about the episode A Breathing Chorus with Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Check out the Thirty Days of Love 2018 All-Ages Activities by Rev. Marisol Caballero. Next week we’ll be back with our fourth message on a renewing harvest and sustaining the work. Stay tuned!
The drought times are here. There is no way to prevent them. Our work is to be ready, steady and know where the water comes from. One way to prepare for the dry times is to embrace decentralization and leadership development. Then, when we find ourselves without water, we know there are others who are carrying it for us. From the work of Momentum, consider: What is the information my group would need to operate without me? What are the skills my group would need to operate without me? How can I build the sharing of this information and the growing of these skills into how the group meets? A deep bench of leaders who have each others backs are the river we need. Put on Ceci Bastida’s Canta el Río or peek into Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout’s arrangement of The River by Coco Love Alcorn from last week’s Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association gathering and let’s dig into our own endurance.
An ancestor: Whitney Young was the executive director of the Urban League, a Civil Rights leader, a Unitarian and embodied some of the questions about how we deal with drought, imperfect decisions, and the role of institutions in justice work. When Young became a member of the Atlanta Unitarian Church, the church had planned its annual picnic in a park that did not allow African Americans. Young was surprised that the white church members had never considered this and he protested. He knew how white supremacy moves within Unitarian Universalism and in institutions. Young would sometimes say "Someone has to work within the system to change it.” Our spiritual deserts often come in the form of deep questions about who is really with us and the tensions around access and compromise. Young reminds us we are not alone in our hard questions and that every place can be a site of resistance.
The invitation: When we find ourselves in drought times, exhausted, thirsty, and needing to take a rest, it’s an opportunity to ask how well we have worked for the leadership of others. In the words of Rev. Ashley Horan, we need to know when it’s our shift and when it’s someone else’s.
How am I part of building a deeper bench so there are many of us to take shifts?
And how can we be rigorous with ourselves when it’s our shift, even if we don’t feel ready or the timing is inconvenient?
One of the gifts we’ve learned from youth organizing is that if we are not organizing ourselves out of a job, then we are not truly developing the leadership of others. A youth organizer we learn a lot from says, “If you are not organizing yourself out of a job, it’s time to quit.” This is a particularly good agitation for those of us with more privilege and power. We all need to know where our ego, our desire to help, to save, to be needed or be in control is showing up. adrienne maree brown says if we trust the people they become trust-worthy. Let’s take up this spiritual challenge.
Who has supported and loved on me to arrive where I am today?
Where have I invested deeply in someone else’s leadership and moved aside to let them shine?
Where I have clung to a role that someone else could do?
How will I know if I need to move on?
The opportunity: The drought and the desert is so so real for so many of us. Our colleagues at No More Deaths/No Más Muertes are documenting the violence of the desert and being targeted for their advocacy. Let’s gather our tools and our people so we can go as far as we can, together. As we’ve been considering transformative justice and embodying our practices as under pressure, try out the Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance: Love the People webinar series beginning Wednesday with Interpersonal Violence Intervention or this conversation on Radical Self Care. We share prayers and love for February 4th, one the of the Promise and the Practice Sundays, another opportunity to carry water with each other.
In the drought times with you,
Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Senior Strategist, Side with Love (right)
Nora Rasman, Campaign Manager, Side with Love (left)