“What does resilience mean to you?” While helping to facilitate a youth worship in December, I had the opportunity to hear youth reflect on the relevance of resilience to their lives and the world. When it was my turn to share, I immediately thought of my seminary community.
At Union, we were in the thick of two major moments – finals and citywide protests. Many of our hearts had been broken again and again over news of black lives being claimed by the forces of institutional racism. Many of us lost sleep staffing our 24-hour protest “LoveHub,” attending community organizing events, and serving a movement that includes undeniable parallels to Selma. Yet, among the necessity to take our ministry to the streets, we also had to write papers, study for exams, apply for jobs, and try to maintain our everyday lives. To paraphrase the words of a popular hymn, our spirits were tired, our bodies were worn, and we sometimes felt weak.
But we did not stop. In the midst of emotional, physical, and spiritual exhaustion that threatened to bring us to a halt, we were resilient. In the face of a centuries-long struggle, we were able to keep pushing for change because we gained strength by coming together and caring for one another. As we shared group-prepared, home-cooked meals, our faith gave us a deeper energy because we knew it lived on the right side of justice. We found joy in each other’s commitment, ideas, and presence. We were able to offer and accept grace in our interactions, removing the pressure of perfection. Here at Union, as well as among the growing number of UUs engaged in racial justice, our faith is resilient because its power does not come from us being alone in our work, but in “being one in the number as we stand against tyranny.”* We are resilient, and our love is fierce, because it connects to a faithful mission of justice and care that our seminary and world community share. And as our society awakens to the realities and deadly price of systemic racism, now more than ever is the time for us as Unitarian Universalists to join the movement of diverse voices seeking justice. Now is the time to put our own resilient love into action.
*”Ella’s Song” by Bernice Johnson Reagon, performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock