In the Shelter of Each Other

Presented October 14, 2018.   

“There’s a river of my people and its flow is swift and strong.” Pete Seeger

It is in the shelter of each other that we live.
This Irish proverb is one of those practical and spiritual truths.

We are – always – dependent on each other.
We need other people to live – to grow our food, build our houses, to drive the trains.
I need people who can change the oil in my car.

We need other people to work for or work with, to help us accomplish projects and systems no one person could create alone. The CN Tower is not the work of single person.
We need companions to share ourselves with, so that we might be known and understood, so that we can love and be loved just as we are, with all our worries and vulnerabilities.

It is in the shelter of each other that we live.

This is sanctuary, offering one another a secure place to land.
To reassure one another that we are okay just as we are.
We need people who accepts our struggles,  and love us anyway.

We all need someone who will open the door and welcome us into sanctuary. We all need places where we feel welcome and accepted.

This community strives to be a sanctuary, a place of welcome and acceptance of all people.
A place of wholeness, of healing, where we can step away from the intensity of daily life and be renewed.
A place where we can be stronger together, shore each other up, be that river flowing strong.

Unitarian Universalist communities aim to be places where those struggling are held in kindness, those in health take the lead, and we know we will be each of these – sometimes healthy, sometimes struggling – over time.
As we sing in our benediction, we give and receive, turn and turn about.

This is what we strive for, to be a sanctuary in the city, a river of people flowing strong.
It’s wonderful when the river flows well, lifting us all up, refreshing us. Sending us out into the world to do what we can to lift others up.

But sometimes there is stormy weather, sometimes the river hits a rough patch. Sometimes we struggle at being a sanctuary.

Not everyone feels welcome here. We aren’t always as kind as we would like to be. We make assumptions instead of asking questions. We say yes when we should say no.

It’s hard to care for one another, to be a collective. It takes time and energy to be present for one another.
That’s true in families and work places.

And it can be even harder here, in this place with lofty ideals, that seeks to help people deepen in spirit, nurture community and act for an equitable, sustainable world.

People come here hopeful, vulnerable, uncertain. Newcomers come and wonder if we will shelter their hearts and question all the jazz hands.
The jazz hands we can explain, the shelter we can only try to be.

Like all spiritual truths, being a sanctuary isn’t a goal to be accomplished, but a state to be practiced.
We won’t achieve some perfect state of sanctuary, of being ever loving, ever calm, ever accepting of everyone all the time. Even the Dalai Lama has his bad days.

But we can keep practicing sanctuary, keep practicing opening the door and being welcoming. We can learn a little more, and do a little better, day by day.

Life is hard these days, fragmented, intense, with stresses in every direction. People need sanctuary, need a shelter from the storms.

“May we continue to practice being sanctuary.
May we be for each other a source of safety and sending.
May we offer each other both comfort and challenge.
May this place of peace lead us to share peace with others.”  soul matters, sanctuary packet.

So Say We All.


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