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Do you know the poet, Jacqueline Woodson? Have you ever heard or read her poem, “Church”? Would you be willing to pause here a moment and read it? It’s short.
I hope you did, because otherwise this will be a spoiler: in that beautiful image at the end, Woodson reminds us that what carries us through all our commitments (even the ones that the Miss Ednas in our lives “make” us do) is HOPE. Now, I don’t want to muddy the waters of our theme of commitment here, but I don’t think we can spend our month exploring commitment together if we don’t bring along handfuls of hope, too.
When we make our commitments or promises, there’s no guarantee that we can follow through. But we really, really hope we can, and we work at it. Sometimes, we aren’t even sure we’re making the right commitments or promises. Since we are dedicating a lot of time, energy, and heart space to them, though, we hope they’re the right ones; our covenanted communities can help us discern. Our commitments are likely going to take some sacrifice and striving; we don’t usually call them “commitments” when they’re easy, or things that we do without putting a lot of thought into it. But we hope they will also offer us insight, a sense of satisfaction, camaraderie, and even some joy and fun.
So Woodson’s poem reminds us that the theme of commitment in our lives is actually a multivalent one, having many different parts and applications. And we need each other’s love and support to make good on our promises.
I want to bring another artist and visionary into our minds, and that’s Peter Mayer, who made a new, acoustic recording of his beloved song, “Blue Boat Home” this time last year, when the pandemic was still new. I bring up this song to remind us that one of our fundamental commitments, as Unitarian Universalists, is to the earth we share. In our Around the Neighborhood section this month, we take our cue from indigenous leaders in the climate justice movement and commit to getting to know the land we live on intimately and respectfully, so that we are better equipped to be part of the solution to climate crisis in the months and years ahead.
Yours in our shared commitment,
Teresa, on behalf of the Soul Matters team