TRUUsT Responds to Tuesday’s Election

As leaders within our Unitarian Universalist movement and in our other communities, TRUUsT members took to Facebook to respond to the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Here is a selection of the words and images that were shared in the first twenty-four hours.

There’s a hymn that Unitarian Universalists sing as a sort of peace vigil. That’s all I can hear right now. The words are simple: “When I breathe in, I breathe in peace. When I breathe out, I breathe out love.” Over and over until you feel like you can breathe, until you feel the love that surrounds you.

—Rev. David L. Helfer

14991907_10211277369105221_7306333550961095179_nI got up. Out of bed. I fed the cat. I took a shower. (A little longer than usual, tbh). I put on my collar and my “Love the Hell out this World” T shirt. I’m going to go find a rainbow ribbon to wear. I have my Black Lives Matter bracelet. I’m going to go out into the world and bear witness. I am already being transformed—being bolder, choosing to mourn and act at the same time. I don’t have a church right now, so I cannot pretend that my job is primarily to minister to them. My ministry is to the world. If all I can do is show up wearing my values on my body, that is what I will do. If you can, do the same today. You don’t have to know what to say. You don’t have to be all put together. You can go out into the world and weep. You can go out and say, I don’t know the way forward but I will not leave anyone behind.” It’s time.

—Rev. Sean Parker Dennison

15032759_10100267199107684_575847316505829745_nI want to hide under the bed with my puppy and not come out for days.

I want to cry, and rage, and beat my fists against the ground, and appeal to the ancestors.

I want to scoop up all of the people I love most in this world and hunker down together and keep them safe.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do today, but I vow to stay here and stay alive. I vow to keep fighting for all of our liberation. I vow to add only love to the world, as much if it as I can, to help counterbalance hate.

I vow to do everything in my power to create the conditions for people to understand each other and love each other across lines of class, race, geography, gender, ability, sexuality, and age. I vow to stay awake and stay in it no matter how hard it is.

I love you, friends. I am here with you. I need us to survive. Stay with me.

—Zr. Alex Kapitan

This is how I begin my 59th year:

“Today, ten thousand people will die
and their small replacements will bring joy
and this will make sense to someone
removed from any sense of loss.

I, too, will die a little and carry on,
doing some paperwork, driving myself
home. The sky is simply overcast,
nothing is any less than it was
yesterday or the day before. In short,
there’s no reason or every reason
why I’m choosing to think of this now.

The short-lived holiness
true lovers know, making them unaccountable
except to spirit and themselves—suddenly
I want to be that insufferable and selfish,
that sharpened and tuned.

I’m going to think of what it means
to be an animal crossing a highway,
to be a human without a useful prayer
setting off on one of those journeys
we humans take. I don’t expect anything
to change. I just want to be filled up
a little more with what exists,
tipped toward the laughter which understands
I’m nothing and all there is.

By evening, the promised storm
will arrive. A few in small boats
will be taken by surprise.
There will be survivors, and even they will die.”

—Stephen Dunn

And there is, indeed, never a greater need for the therapy of kindness and love. Again.

—Rev. Anya Johnston

I’m waking up today thinking of all the children terrified to go to school today. The ones—even legal immigrants—worried their family will be send home. The ones taunted already for months that Trump will send them home. The children of LGBTQ parents. The trans and queer kids. The bullying is real.

What can we do NOW?

Yeah we can agonize about what could have been and plan for four years out, but the kids need us now. Need to see the adults—I believe the majority of adults—want a pluralistic America where everyone belongs and will do our best to protect our kids—of all colors, documented status, religion and family constellation.

I’m asking concrete, y’all. And something we can do with the power of numbers.

—Evin Carvill-Ziemer

“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”

—Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents

—Mx. Elizabeth Mount

15037318_10100266801240014_1669670438230550795_n“I Pray in Many Different Ways” by Sobonfu Some

“I pray in many different ways.
The clarity of my intention is the beginning of my prayer.

In my tradition, every breath I draw is a prayer.
Every time I inhale and exhale, it is a prayer.
And so, how conscious are you when you are breathing in and out?
How conscious are you when you are walking?
How conscious are you when you are singing?
How conscious are you when you are angry?
I pray in the way that I show gratitude, love or compassion.
I pray alone and in community.
I pray with my thoughts. I pray with my body.

I pray in the way I speak to people.
I pray to various elements of nature—
the trees, the animals, the water, the rocks, the earth, the fire….
I pray to my Ancestors and all the Divinities.
I pray simply, with passion, humility, clarity and grace.

I pray in the way I welcome and bless people.
I pray with whatever emotions come my way.
I pray with sincerity and with strong belief that what I’m praying for is going to manifest.

In my tradition, whatever you say is a prayer that you send out,
Because sound is a powerful force that brings the hidden to light.
And when you pray something is going to say Yes.

So each moment of my life is a prayer.
Each moment I reflect on myself, on the world and other people is a prayer.
How I interact with people and how I deal with my thoughts is a prayer.
How genuine am l? —is a way for me to pray.

For me, all these things are sacred and are messengers, and can
take my heart cries, which are my prayers to the Divinities.
This is the power of how I pray.”

—Rev. Paul Langston-Daley

14925535_10208216690563074_6499080556151065432_nMy friends, I am very left, and know that this election hasn’t gone like many of us hoped it would. I am very anxious and scared for my country, for a man has won the presidency of the United States based on some of the most hateful bigotry and populism to ever be applied to a race. It’s a race that’s left many of us disillusioned and angry.

We have reason to be anxious. There is so much going right in our country. And, yet, the world is not over. Tomorrow, I will wake up and do what I always do, the same thing I would have done had Hillary Clinton won: work for a world that is just, where all people are liberated because they have inherent worth and dignity.

Will a Donald Trump presidency make this a more difficult task? Absolutely. But now is not the time to lose vigilance. I believe, in the words of Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, and it bends towards justice.” I believe that those who stand for justice are needed now more than ever.

I see hope, albeit a difficult hope, if we do not lose courage, if we press ahead confidently and lovingly.

To all who live with oppressed identities every day, who have been further alienated by Trump’s rhetoric during this election season, my Black, Latino/a/x, Muslim, immigrant, queer, trans, genderqueer, disabled, and female siblings, I see you, and I love you. We will stand in solidarity together.

There has been much anxiety in the system that is our country, and it has been exploited. Let us work towards a reconciliation that will unite humanity in a common goal of world community steeped in peace and justice. My friends and family who I deeply disagree with: I love you now more than ever. Please know that, despite our deep differences, we need each other, and I hope that, when differences come up, we can listen to each other with the respect each of us deserves.

I don’t know what the days and weeks hold, but I know that, as long as I have breath, I will be answering the call of love.

May we be each other’s refuge from anxiety and fear in the coming weeks as we move towards healing from a particularly traumatizing election.

—Rev. Chris Rothbauer

Focus on self care today, everyone. Feel what you need to feel. Process. Decompress. But remember to Breathe, and hold on to Hope—even if it’s just a glimmer in the dark 🙂

—Jo Mosher

Have courage, hold onto what is good,
Return to no person evil for evil
Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak
Help the suffering, honour all beings.

—Mx. K Childs

My house has a hot tub, love, food, a fireplace, woods to look at, people to hold you. Do you need that? Come visit with your broken hearts and your fears and your loved ones.

—Elliot Altomare

14955912_10154287578302585_7097092089951317556_nI know that I’m ‘supposed’ to make a ‘together we can get through this’ post….
I’m not there yet.
I’m not sure when I can get there.

Where I am is somewhere between set ablaze with anger and fear, and immobilized by frustration and disappointment.

This is where rubber meets the road. No more just retweeting and sharing.
Get vocal and ACTIVE.
There is work to be done.

—B. Herbert

This past summer I gave a sermon about the Parable of the Trees in Judges chapter 9. When I wrote my sermon I never thought for a second the people would actually choose the thorn bush to reign over them.

Today I re-read verse 15 and got a chill. Those who didn’t annoint the  thornbush are threatened that “a fire will come out of the bush and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”

Let’s pray the verse is not prophetic.

—Terry Cummings

I am numb. At least that is what I keep telling myself. I went to the post-election Vespers service at my church tonight. Because I am numb. I wanted to feel something, to be in community, to grieve and give voice to my pain. But I am numb. I sat there with my arms crossed over my chest while strangers and friends openly wept. One mixed-race couple shared their fear for their 17-year-old son, and how they worry every time he gets in his car to drive somewhere. I heard a young woman with a newborn daughter express her rage at the mysogeny of our President-elect.

But I felt nothing. I am numb. I did not speak. I did not weep. Because I am numb. For if I allowed myself to truly feel what is actually in the depths of my soul tonight, I would not be able to contain it. Being numb is an act of self-preservation. After one has been told they should be euthanized for being their authentic self, it takes a toll on a person. After being told that one is a pervert, an “it,” a nut job, and a threat to the fabric of society, it tends to eat away at one’s hope that they will ever be accepted.

Still, there can be hope. Not everyone feels that way, right? But now I am numb. The election of Donald Trump is confirmation that I am a monster in the eyes of most people in this country. Trump is not the problem. He just brought the problem to the light. And now that the light is shining, it is clear that I am “Other,” and therefore I have no value on the eyes of the larger society. I am numb, because if I allowed myself to acknowledge what is in the depths of my soul, I could not contain it. Yet, it is there. I am here. I exist, and I am numb.

—Mr. Dan Miyake

15027639_10211745817469949_8542897864911029949_n“Post Election Day Mourning Redux”

There have been many
post election day mournings
since I began voting in 1980.

There are many things wrong,
broken, dangerous, violent,
with our country,
it is true.

But there is this:

I myself am not dead yet.

I thought I was going to be dead
by 30.
It wasn’t until I turned 50
I realized, “Huh, that
turned out differently.”

I thought, when I began voting,
that the best we could hope for
was to not be beaten or murdered,
that every person
was a threat to us.

I never imagined that I would get
gay married
and gay divorced,
that I would have children in my house,
and in my life,
that I would protect them;
that all the neighbors would not beat them
because of my queerness
or their race,
that my identity alone did not make them universally unsafe,
and my behavior had power to help keep them safe.

I thought that since adults seemed to be powerless
to protect me as a child,
that meant it was universally true.
I thought that apartheid in South Africa
and Jim Crow and school discrimination in the US
were statements of everlasting and unassailable fact
rather than
locations of continuous struggle.

I never imagined that I would see
so many white folks
galvanize against racist state violence,
that whole towns would rise up
to protect kids of color,
kids of queer,
queer kids of color—
that they’d be homecoming queen.

I never imagined there would be
a nationwide call to stop
bullying in schools and playgrounds,
or that there were adults who
actually intervened in child abuse and neglect.

I never imagined I would see a day
when parents protected their queer children
and affirmed their identity.

I never imagined a day when white people
would work to renounce and unlearn racism
and oppose white supremacy,
when men would work to
renounce and unlearn sexism and undermine patriarchy or
that cispeople would actively work to support and protect transfolk.

I never imagined a day when white people would go to locations of struggle
in communities of color,
when middle-class people would go to locations of struggle
in poor communities, on contested land
and put their bodies on the line.

Because, my people,
because trauma.

Trauma takes away
the ability to imagine and hope,
to believe the possibility that
Jeremiah 29:11 is a true promise.
“I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,
plans for good and not for evil.
Plans for a future and a hope.”

Trauma locks us in a repetitive cycle of thinking
that we are and always will be powerless,
and that one huge set-back proves
not ongoing struggle,
but powerlessness.

Last night held many set-backs,
it is unmistakable fact that
our people are still being bullied
and beaten and killed,
by individuals and the state.
That white supremacy and patriarchy are bedrock
in our culture
and we can’t just do a few good things
and it’ll be over.

It is clear that some of us
just realized today they are actually in this
with the rest of us;
that siding against white supremacy,
against the heterosexist patriarchy means taking sides
in ways that was
news to them, but not us.
Our friends and neighbors who thought
they were just
on the sidelines,
supporting other people’s rights,
now suddenly experiencing a fear they did not realize
was their own.

Half of our country just voted the school bully
to be homecoming king of an entire nation.
And we want to scatter,
for the small gains are under attack
because of the threat those gains posed to
the powers and principalities and systems.

But, my people,
here we are,
not, ourselves, dead.

No one has killed us
and we are still protecting our children
and making meaningful change in our communities,

So on this post election day
remember the long view.
Claim the view you maybe once held up
or mocked
as magical thinking
and didn’t used to believe
was real,
the view that trauma
and ignorance,
our own and others,
try to wrest from us:

The Arc of the Universe
really is long,
and it really does
bend toward Justice.
Because it is we
who do the bending.

—CB/Cindy Beal

14980556_1150420448376177_941950671681698729_nI held the 1st and 5th Unitarian Universalist Principles especially close to my heart as I continued my ministry serving rural America today. I prayed with Trump supporters, suspending judgement, because everyone deserves a death that includes dignity and respect. I believe in America. I believe in us. And, I believe in all of the UU Principles. I will continue to live out my faith—no matter what happens. Posting here as a reminder to myself of what this moment feels like—I do not want to forget.

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

—Mx. Jami Yandle

Friends, I love you. Friends of color, I love you. Immigrant friends, I love you. Women friends, I love you. Muslim friends, I love you. Jewish friends, I love you. Friends with disabilities, I love you. Latinx friends, I love you. Fellow queer friends, I love you. If you are reading this, I love you. And, yes, fellow white dudes, I love you, too. I’m here if you need me. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You are not alone.

—Otto O’Connor

Be gentle with your friends today. Especially your queer, trans, brown, black, women, liberal friends. Many of us are wracked with grief. Many of us are not sure if we will be safe when we step out the door right now, much less safe in January. We will be doing our best to do what we can, while also bleeding out from the soul. Give us room. Give us slack. Give us grace.

—Leela Sinha

14962807_10154856024729714_7114586414520859347_n.jpgLove wins in the end.
If love didn’t win, it’s not the end.
Some days this is all we’ve got.
Tiny little flame, wick cut so short it can hardly burn.
Burning still.

—Rev. Dawn Fortune

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers,
half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation, so that you may work for justice,
freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain,
rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort and to turn pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you may do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.

—Andrew Coate

What to do next? Be, simply be. Breathe, seek your people, find comfort in community. Hug. Take care of yourself. I see you, you are wanted, you are loved, you are needed here, now. #dailyreflection

—Ms. Andrea Hawkins-Kamper

Let us gather our courage and maintain our passion today, tonight, tomorrow. It matters that we care. No despair; determination. #dailyprayer

—Rev. Sean Dennison

15027589_1150971334987755_883629658390011200_nListen. It was never going to be easy street. We can keep each other safe. Tomorrow we will work on a plan. I love you. Find your breath in your body and follow it in and out for a while. That’s where we begin again.

—Rev. Theresa Ines Soto

The world feels scarier to many, yet for some of us it has always been a scary world.

For some of us, the very act of living is a radical act of resistance. May we each find the strength to continue living.

For some of us, our bodies have been battlegrounds for far too long. May we continue to be resilient in the face of hatred, bigotry, and violence.

In our moments of fear, may we hold safe ourselves, our loved ones, and the ones we do not yet know, remembering that all life is sacred.

Now is the time to come together, to support one another and offer each other deep, life-affirming Love.

The journey to justice seems longer now, but it has always been just over the next hill. May we remember that justice is not a destination but a way of life.

—Mr. Barb Greve

Editor’s note: This post was edited to include additional words (from Rev. T. Soto) and images (from CB/Cindy Beal) for which permission had not yet been obtained when the piece was first published.

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