Friday, October 30, 2009

bukowski on death

a song with no end

when Whitman wrote, "I sing the body electric"

I know what he
I know what he

to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.

we can't cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take

it will have known a victory just as
perfect as

~ Charles Bukowski ~

installing Schwally

Billy Budd turned into Captain Marvel by uttering the word, “shazam!” I wish you all the powers that word offers, especially the first two: the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of Hercules. Both of these are necessary, to help your congregants carry the immense burdens with which so many of us humans struggle.

On the television program, “Heroes,” the Japanese character, Hiro Nakamura, has the ability to teleport—-he can travel from place to place, across any distance, in the blink of an eye. I wish for you the ability to teleport, so that you may travel instantaneously from important board and committee meetings to the deathbed of a member to serving at a soup kitchen or demonstrating for justice in Albany.

I also hope for you a similar power, that of time travel, like Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer. If you had the ability to travel through time, you would always have the chance to write one more email, to make one more phone call, to go on one more visit, and still get home to be a good son, brother, uncle and husband.

As long as I am wishing, although I’ve never seen them in any comic book, I would offer you the “superest” of all ministerial powers, the ability to transform human experience: to turn grief into meaning, anger into appropriate action, and fear into hope.

--from the Charge to the Minister for the Rev. Mr. Craig Schwalenberg, at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta, New York; 25 October 2009.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

call to worship--autumn colors inspire

Scarlet and yellow and burnt orange leaves,
against a backdrop of seventeen shades of green fir trees...
all with a tinge of frost,
to make it seem even more magical.
Each season has its splendor,
and this week, we’ve seen some of Nature’s finest work.

Yet, those colorful trees, as beautiful as they are,
cannot act to create justice.
They stand as mute observers
to both weddings and murders.

The trees leave the justice-making to us humans,
but they do inspire us—-
their glorious shapes and colors
move us to reverence for life.

May the beauty in our eyes
become justice in our hands
as we serve Life among and around us.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Szymborska: Vietnam

Wislawa Szymborska's poem "Vietnam" as translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh (from "Poems New and Collected 1957-1997, Harcourt, 1998):

"Woman, what's your name?" "I don't know."
"How old are you? Where are you from?" "I don't know."
"Why did you dig that burrow?" "I don't know."
"How long have you been hiding?" "I don't know."
"Why did you bite my finger?" "I don't know."
"Don't you know that we won't hurt you?" "I don't know."
"Whose side are you on?" "I don't know."
"This is war, you've got to choose." "I don't know."
"Does your village still exist?" "I don't know."
"Are those your children?" "Yes."

I'll feature that poem in my response paper to Mark Belletini's presentation on Szymborska at the Ohio River Group study group next week. ORG is great--you should join!

Friday, October 09, 2009

In solidarity with those on the National Equality March, here is a poem by Audre Lorde:

Bicentennial Poem # 21,000,000

I know
the boundaries of my nation lie
within myself
but when I see old movies
of the final liberation of Paris
with french tanks rumbling over land
that is their own again
and old french men weeping
hats over their hearts
singing a triumphant national anthem

My eyes fill up with muddy tears
that have no earth to fall upon.

May there someday be a land where transgender, queer, lesbian, heterosexual, gay, bisexual and asexual people *all* feel welcome and safe; and may there be fewer muddy tears there and everywhere.

covenantal excellence

best practices in covenant writing--two of my favorites:

Covenant of Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church (Louisville, KY)

“Together, we have chosen to make a church,
a community to encourage the best in us,
where children and adults may come together in celebration and sharing.

Together, we have chosen to make a church,
a community where we support each other in tolerance and love
as we explore questions of belief, spirit and value,
and discover what unites us in service and concern.

Together, we have chosen to make a church,
a community made strong
by a living tradition which unites our past with our future
in a vision shared with all who seek the paths of truth and
honor freedom with responsibility.

Together, we have chosen to make a church,
so that in community
we may become what we cannot be when we are isolated and alone.

Together, we have chosen to make a church,
so that we can make a difference in the world.”

adopted May 1989

Covenant of UU Society of Geneva (Geneva, IL)
Being desirous of promoting practical goodness in the world, and of aiding each other in our moral and religious improvement, we have associated ourselves together - not as agreeing in opinion, not as having attained universal truth in belief or perfection in character, but as seekers after truth and goodness.