Message from Rev. Sydney

Once again this week my heart has felt torn asunder by the news of interpersonal and gun violence; and yet still hope sprouts anew.

Once, in 1988, I lobbied in Congress on behalf of a UU daughter who had been shot at her university, surviving the 9 others who did not.  I achieved the attention of members of the House of Representatives, and a moment of silence was devoted to the incident.  As time has passed, that moment of silence has become increasingly ironic, a moment to practice the suppression demanded by those who would manipulate our humane grief, respect and natural prompting to action.

The predatory urge in our human nature is being encouraged and cynically exploited.  The prevalence of guns, and the condition of inadequate regulation in the context of racism and misogyny is unacceptable. The words of James Baldwin during our screening of “I Am Not Your Negro” that violence is at the very foundation of American identity, brought the words of the Texas official who opined that “there are many other ways of taking care of a mother-in-law than coming to a church with guns…” held nuances that seemed not to indicate an approach of kindness, or active listening. It’s not considered terrorism if it’s not about race or religion — but domestic violence is equally part of the fabric of the cloth we must unravel and re-weave.

Danger lies is becoming so traumatized by all forms of terrorism that we are unable to catch an emotional breath to meet the challenge with sensible strength. But together, we can rise to the challenge of these times. It is both painful and heartening to see the bright lights shed on the addiction to domination, to the lack of a sense of proportion, to the need for a clear moral base in regulation and relationship. 

The strength of our faith, allied with all people of good faith, supports us. We have the strength to face the horrors with a stubborn refusal to go numb  to accept these conditions — even though they are as old as the human predicament. We are called to forge a world renewed in moral strength. Last Sunday, I lifted up the work of ethical economics, as found in the infusion of environmental, social and governance values into corporate behavior. I suggested that global corporate capitalism could indeed mature, through the efforts of groups like Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), ESG investing (see, or google socially responsible investing or investigate ESG auditing promulgated by the European Global Reporting Initiative GRI).

There is so much more to lift up as we explore weaving multiculturalism into our church community, for this is part of our religious calling.

These times of new realizations and renewed challenge, as the poet says, invite the feeling that “one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.” We have the strength to face the realities of  our culture and the work to further civilize it.  We have the strength to face the traces of acculturation within ourselves.  We have the strength to comfort and correct.  We have the strength to rise and rise again.

I turn to you: your loving, broken hearts; the bold and determined work of the body politic; our innate human sense of fairness and hope. Together we can draw from the deep well of  beauty all around us.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswerving given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs–

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.