Years ago, a therapist told me that people would rather feel absolutely anything besides helplessness. Read more
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The chorus of this song by Peter Alsop is “My body’s nobody’s body but mine. You’ve got your own body, let me run mine!” It’s a good little bit of song to keep in your head for times when someone else seems to think that your body should look or act a different way than what is right for you.
Clara Barton learned in the Universalist church she was raised in that God is love, and that all lives are precious. As she grew up she took those lessons seriously, recognizing that we are called to care for people’s bodies, not just their souls.
Clara Barton became a teacher, but when the Civil War broke out she was horrified to learn that food and medical supplies weren’t getting to the soldiers, and that many suffered and even died for lack of food, water, and treatment for their injuries.
Although people at the time didn’t think women were strong enough to handle being in the midst of war, Clara raised money for supplies, and snuck in at midnight to a battlefield in Virginia, where she set about cooking food and treating the injured. She even learned how to remove a bullet from a person using just a pen knife!
Clara Barton cared for soldiers from both sides at 14 battle sites. And when the war was over, she was the person who founded the American Red Cross, bringing to the United States the idea of an organization that would care for all people in a crisis, restoring safety and health to bodies.
This month, try something new that you’ve never tried before! This can be something big or something small, but it should be something that is new to you. Here are some ideas:
The poet Edwin Markham, who was born in 1852, and became the poet laureate of Oregon from 1923-1931, was invited to read his poem “Lincoln, Man of the People” at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922.
But UUs most often remember him for a tiny little poem that expresses his Universalist beliefs in love that is big enough to include everyone—and offers a radical understanding of belonging. The poem, called “Outwitted,” says:
He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
Think about what the poem says: He wanted to shut me out and say that I didn’t belong. He said that my beliefs made me someone who had to be pushed away. But because I live from a place of love, I did something very clever and sneaky—I found a way to include and welcome him, even when he wasn’t willing to include or welcome me.
That’s Universalism—love big enough to offer belonging to every human soul. Not because everyone is like us or even necessarily likeable, but because Love is big enough to include everyone.
New beginnings–whether starting a new grade or moving to a different city or taking on a new sport or hobby–can be kind of scary. Here is a blessing that you can say for yourself when you’re feeling worried about taking on something new:
Walking through this open door
I carry with me blessings four:
The love that surrounds me,
The knowledge that grounds me,
The courage that lifts me,
The chance this door gifts me.
Siri Allison is a storyteller with Story Circle at Proctors, the resident storytelling company at this performing arts center in Schenectady, NY. This story is from the Kanglanek people, who live near the source of the Colville River, a major river on the Arctic Coast of Alaska. (Story begins at 1:20 after some introduction.)
Most of us only see clowns in parades and circuses. But for refugees and people who cannot go back to their homes, there are not many parades or circuses, and the children who live in the refugee communities don’t get to see many clowns-or have a lot of fun in general. It’s a hard life for anyone, especially for children, but these clowns are clowning for a cause!
Clowns without Borders is a troupe of performers who visit refugee camps and displaced communities and perform for them. They juggle, they do magic tricks, they make everyone laugh and smile. For more than 20 years, these joyful folks have brought joy to the loves of people who have experienced great struggles and loss. They call it Resilience Through Laughter.
Why is this posted in the UU & You section of Family Quest? Because there are UUs participating in Clown Without Borders today! Here’s an interview with lifelong Unitarian Universalist Sarah Foster:
Sarah Liane Foster, a lifelong Unitarian Universalist, traveled as a professional clown with Clowns Without Borders to Haiti, Turkey, Colombia, Swaziland, and South Africa where children have experienced conflict and injustice. “Laughter is a critical way to heal trauma,” Sarah said. You can read more about Sarah’s story in the Spring 2016 Family pages of UU World as well!
Sometimes, it is tempting to think about justice only as something “out there,” something that is about causes and actions and social change. But justice is also about how we treat ourselves and the people around us and in our families. The way we treat people individually has a big impact on those larger issues, even if it’s hard to tell right away.
Dr. Cornel West tells us, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” You can tell yourself this quote too, to remind you of why justice is so important. When we work for justice, we are embodying love in our communities; this is how we change the world!
Quest for Meaning is a program of the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF), a Unitarian Universalist congregation without walls. Join our community to cultivate wonder, imagination, and the courage to act.