Recently as we Unitarian Universalists seek to bring justice to the world through food, I have heard pain and discouragement regarding how much we wish for the well being of all humans and nonhumans, and how far off that dream of the beloved community seems. Even after the passing of the Ethical Eating SOC, or especially so.
I know intimately this despair regarding the challenges of nourishing a world, let alone my companions in Unitarian Universalism. For the hope of offering support to you, I would like to offer these words. I was going to speak them from the “pro” plenary mike in support of the statement, but we ran out of time right before my turn. Here are those words, only slightly changed to account for a future not asking for the passing of the statement, but for the implementation of the statement.
Hello. I am the Rev. LoraKim Joyner and I am a delegate from the UU Fellowship of Gainesville. I come before you today as a Community Minister in Multispecies Ministry and Compassionate Communication. I have also served as the president of the UU Animal Ministry for 8 years and am their current Reverence for Life Coordinator. I also enjoy serving on the Ethical Eating Core Team. In addition, I am a wildlife veterinarian working largely in Latin American conservation. I say all this to let you know that I know how difficult it is for us to talk, and to take action on food. We doubt that we can love enough to take care of all beings given what we perceive as a perponderance of needs and claims that compete with one another.
They do not.
I have just come from 2.5 months working in Latin American to support environmental justice and conservation of birds. The people there who live close to the land know that their well being is tied closely to the well being of animals. One group of indigenous people with whom I work, the Miskito people of Honduras, are literally dying to protect their wild birds, while they themselves do not have enough to eat. To insure that they have enough to eat and can nourish their families, birds, and trees, they have opened their hearts to protect all life, together. Everything is at risk they told me, and so they are willing to risk everything.
Their hearts are big enough.
Our hearts are big enough.
The needs are urgent; there is no time to lose.
Everything is at risk.
So let us risk everything we can today.
Let’s implement this statement by using it as a tool to crank open our hearts so that the world can fall in and fill our lives with ever increasing love and compassion.
I and others remain dedicated to what is not just a 5year Study Action Item process, but an effort that will span our lifetimes.
We will find a way to breathe hope and justice into this statement, making it a living covenant with all of life.
became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing -
was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
also the trees around them,
well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
the perfectly blue sky - all, all of them
of course, yes, so it seemed,
soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last
more than a few moments.
one of those magical places wise people
to talk about.
of the things they say about it, that is true,
that, once you've been there,
everyone has a chance.
it spring, is it morning?
there trees near you,
does your own soul need comforting?
then - open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
already be drifting away.
The Wood Thrush of North America has a song some
describe as hauntingly beautiful. As a child I walked frequently alone in the
woods and though this bird sang just for me.
Whenever family confusion got stirred up on our home and my soul needed
comforting, to the woods I went to hear a reprieve. I'd enter the doorway of trees with heavy
feet and after a walk singing I'd leave the woods flying. The song of a bird tells us all that we all have
a chance for liberation, even the most tortured, even the torturers. Within the deepest recesses of the fractured
human dilemma of competition versus collaboration, and care versus harm, we are
hauntingly beautiful. May you hear such
a song of freedom today.
If you could give yourself a new chance
today, what would it be?
This is a homily I deliverd on August 30, 2009 for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville. For this Annual Ingathering and Water Communion I spoke of how we give messages to one another that have far ranging consequences. What messages will you choose to give to life this day?
May goodness flow with you all the days of your life.
This past Sunday we celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, both born on February 12, 2009. We were quite fortunate that they chose both to visit our congregation. They materialized when our children sang them each Happy Birthday. For the first part of the service they spoke to our children reaffirming, "it is a blessing you were born, it matters what you do, and you don't have to go it alone." During the second part of the service we asked Mr. Darwin and Mr. Lincoln questions, and the for the final part of the service, they asked us questions. I have included a snippet below that I address to them both at the end of their questions. The answers to all their questions can be found in "more information" (though not the answers to all our questions).
The earth is full, watching, waiting, and we are weeping.We look to the past as you did to look at slavery and humanity, Mr. Lincoln, and as you did Mr. Darwin with your birds and worms, so that we can face forward and be led into the mysterious unknown.
We also face inward to have empathy for tortoises and for those suffering, so that we gather a deep knowing of the world and see if we can make things a little better.
Our hope is to study life, to see all life, no matter how lowly, to know where we come from, who we were, who we are, so that we can be all of who we might become.We are not here to be at the top of a great chain of being, but in the midst of the web of life that holds us in this truth; “There is more to human than the breath in her body, or the hat on his head.It is the hope in our heart.” (adapted from Adam Gopnik in Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life)
May this week lead to the discovery of hope and faith in the evolving tree of life.