The Building Blocks of Beloved Community

Published by FirstUUAdmin on

by Rev Michelle Scott-Huffman

Rev. Jan Christian, Congregational Life Staff for the Pacific Western Region of the UUA wrote: “Establishing and maintaining Beloved Community depends on establishing and maintaining covenantal relationships. The covenant is our sacred promise of meaningful relationship, which we mutually develop by inquiring into our deeply held values as a community. We also develop a set of restorative practices as a resource for the inevitable times when we depart from covenant, so we have a clear path to restoring relationships and returning to our shared values when disconnection occurs.” This month, we’ve talked a lot about Beloved Community, and we’ll finish off the month by exploring some important building blocks of beloved community.

Tortoises with AJ Fox

The classic Aesop’s Fable The Tortoise and the Hare takes on fresh focus when we are considering how to long path towards justice and Beloved Community takes commitment and patience. We meet Gertrude and Olive, two tortoises that find their home with Carly and Asher, friends of First UU.

Our opening words today are #434 in Singing the Living Tradition by Anonymous:

May we be reminded here of our highest aspirations,
and inspired to bring our gifts of love and service to the altar of humanity.
May we know once again that we are not isolated beings
but connected, in mystery and miracle, to the universe,
to this community and to each other.

Thula Klizeo

Joseph Shabalala as taught to Nick Page (by rote, a cappella, and with a dance)
Used with Permission,
Performed by Eva Riebold

Thula Klizeo, translated from Zulu means “Be still my heart, even here I am at home.”

One silver lining of this time of digging into our own hymnals for music we can share in virtual services has been getting to learn more from all of you about what gems we have in our tradition that I didn’t even know about, such as this lovely chant from Joseph Shabalala. All credit goes to Eva for choosing this and sharing it with us. This simple, short chant is profound in its simplicity, and it stands in contrast to the wordy, lofty, intricate hymns that we so often love and choose in our particular variety of UU culture.

I think Beloved Community can be anywhere, and with anyone, that our hearts are still and feel at home. May we strive to create such a place among us.

I especially enjoyed reading some more history and understanding the context of Apartheid around the composition of this song from Rev. Debus, here:

–Emily McKinney, Music Director

Do Not Walk Behind Me

Music: Bradley Maxim
Words: Camus (adapted)
Used with Permission
Performed by the First UU Virtual Choir

The history on this piece was an interesting rabbit hole to go down. The book this choir piece comes from attributes the text to Camus, but a quick search reveals that this is most likely not accurate. This was a fun breakdown on the (possibly) true history of the text:

Regardless of where the words came from, I love this text as a description of what it means to be in Beloved Community with others. This song reminds me of the message about walking with the wind that we had earlier in the month. Journeying together in Beloved Community is a delicate dance that requires us to always be mindful of staying together on the journey. It’s so easy to jump ahead and assume we have all the answers, or to fall behind and not share our voices when it counts. I’m so very proud of the choir’s work to pull this together and I hope that it helps us all connect to our commitment to journey together in Beloved Community.

–Emily McKinney, Music Director

Above All Else

Words and Music:
Amanda Udis-Kessler
Used with Permission
Performed by Marilyn Day, Persephone Hamburg, and Eva Riebold

This sung prayer really gets at the heart of what I think is required of me to truly show up for Beloved Community. If I want to have that kind of community, I need to commit to being loving and hospitable and seek to grow in my compassion. I love the repeated phrase, “above all else” in this, too, because we share such diversity of beliefs and priorities in this community, but, above all else, we seek for this community to be a place where we give and receive love in a way that allows for greater justice and compassion in the world.

–Emily McKinney, Music Director

We Will Not Stop Singing

Words and Music by The Chapin Sisters
Arr. Adam Podd, featuring the First Unitarian Brooklyn Choir
Shared with Permission

My thanks to Eva for finding this gem among the Soul Matters suggested music for this month. I believe this song is an excellent way to move us from the theme of Beloved Community to Commitment. A beloved community is one that is joined together in commitment to not stop singing until the whole world can sing the songs of justice, equity, and compassion together.

–Emily McKinney, Music Director

Our closing words are Be About the Work by Andrea Hawkins-Kamper

May we see all as it is, and may it all be as we see it.
May we be the ones to make it as it should be,
For if not us, who? If not now, when?
This is answering the cry of justice with the work of peace,
This is redeeming the pain of history with the grace of wisdom,
This is the work we are called to do, and this is the call we answer now:
To be the barrier and the bridge,
To be the living embodiment of our Principles,
To be about the work of building the Beloved Community,
To be a people of intention and a people of conscience.