Midweek meditation

Several months ago I was rehearsing with the choir, which generously welcomes sporadic participants like me, when we turned to a piece I knew I’d sung before. It turned out that the choir had sung it at my installation here, 13 years earlier, and then it came back to me: I had been a choir that sang it at the UUA General Assembly in 2002, and I had liked it so much that a year later, when I was called here, I suggested it for the anthem at the service of installation.

This week, we are singing it again, as accompaniment to our guest Gregory C. Carrow-Boyd’s sermon, “Eyes on the Prize.” In it, he’ll share his thoughts on what it takes to realize our vision of “a truly multiethnic, multicultural, multigenerational spiritually vibrant community.” And I’m pondering the beautiful photos and words of Amelia Shaw that hang in the Main Hall foyer, which offering their meditations on where white culture (her own, and mine) fits in to that vision . . . well, more on that on Sunday.

But through it all, now, I hear the words of Kenneth C. Patton, the founder of the Universalist Charles Street Meetinghouse in Boston, set to music in this anthem. He writes,

What more have we to give to one another than love and understanding?
And the choir repeats: “What more have we to give

to give

to give
to one another

than love and understanding?” as if trying to hammer home the simplicity of this truth. As we meet across the borders of culture, ethnicity, age, theology, what better gifts can we offer than our love for each other and our ardent attempts to understand where each person–literally, not only in the slang expression–“is coming from”?

We treasure knowledge; we seek wisdom. But these alone will not weave together the disparate threads of our lives and experiences into a community. All the way home after rehearsing this anthem, I kept hearing, like a mantra in my head, Patton’s reminder of what does:

Wisdom must be made the implement of love
And love the guide and repairer of knowledge.

I’ve been on a quest to learn more about other cultures, other ethnicities, to hear voices outside my own experience, and so to set the whiteness that is my heritage in its proper, modest place. It’s a search for knowledge, and maybe even wisdom. Lest knowledge become the be-all and end-all, we’ll have these words to remind us of the real reason we strive to welcome all voices, all lives, into our community. And, reflecting on my installation, I know it’s also the real reason for creating a Unitarian Universalist community in the first place. It’s all about love.

See you Sunday,