Archives for the month of: January, 2012

Bob Darling,

I do not know how to contact you. I have tried your email to no avail so now I am doing desperate things like say….this. I am going to be visiting a dear friend of mine, Magdalena, in Alicante and I would hate to be in Spain again and not have the opportunity to see you and be a one minute spy on your new and, I am sure, utterly fabulous life. I adore you the ever elusive Bob. I am searching for you. And know you are always welcome here. There is a bottle of wine and a beach towel with your name on it. Des grandes bises cherie.

Your friend who is waving at you out her window because we are practically neighbors,

Sarah

…voluntarily.

Probably the least churchy, but-definitely-a-church church I’ve gone to. It was pretty ridiculous. Matt sings in the choir for a Unitarian Universalist church a couple of blocks down from us and he invited me to come to service with him this Sunday. I agreed because I was pretty sure that UU was the kind of church that whose official stance was “or whatever” and because Matt had given such a compelling review of his experience.

I walked down the street with Matt not really sure what to expect. I half assumed it would be wildly contemporary and there would just be a bunch of rugged, athletic-looking Denverites with their babies kangaroo-pouched to their chests and snowboards on under their arm so the moment the service was over they could jet pack to the nearest mountain and “shred” down it. You know. That. But also that they were just the kind group of generous people who furrowed their brows when they hear something sad.

When we finally walked into the grey-brick building, we went to a table to receive name tags. I have an automatic aversion to non-business related name tags because it usually means that I’ll have to meet other people and smile politely. It was a signal that this was indeed a friendly group of people–which was the case, at the beginning of the service we had to meet the people around us. What was not typical, however, was that after receiving our name tag the cardigan-clad, middle-aged lady wanted to remind us about the showing of “Papers” upstairs after the service. It’s a documentary about immigration injustice that their Unitarian Immigration Justice Circle had selected. There would be pizza. What?! Where was I? What kind of church was I in? Documentaries? Immigration reform?! These thoughts were buzzing in my head as we made our way to the chapel. It also made me excited. Matt had told me that their January topic is “peace,” had talked about the war, had a really great reading from a Holocaust victim, and that, basically, it was a really intellectual and enlightening sermon.

The chapel looked similar to the catholic chapels I am oh-so familiar with. There were chairs with hymn books, an alter with candles, banners along the side with slogans like “salvation in our life time” and “there is a unity that makes us one.” Missing from my mental picture of what a church should look like were: a man dying and people in bedsheets frowning at me (oh, to be raised Catholic).

Let me say this honestly, I was made a bit uncomfortable by the remnants of church around me. Not that I have any ill-will with those who are religious or religion in general, but I also don’t have any pleasant personal association with it myself. The banners made me feel like I was in a building where emotions were going to be talked about…words like “worship” and “prayer” were the little Order of Service pamphlets that were on placed on our seats…these uncomfortable, resistant feelings came despite myself. There was that edge of reluctance and that wall or cynicism that my liberal ideologies were fighting against in that place. Which isn’t fair, I know it. Out of all my friends, I think I behave the most conservatively, but…I don’t know, that’s just me and I’ve always been in the party of “do what you want.”

So how was it you asked? Very mixed. It felt strange to me, like, I could not help but laugh at some parts and I just know that, if Carissa was there beside me,  I could have made her repress-giggle her pants off at shared side-long glances at things that were happening. At the same time, the lectures and poems were so inspiring I wanted to scribble down notes.

1. In conjunction with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tomorrow, our sermon dealt with immigration reform and racial injustice

2. Our opening Hymn, Spirit of Life,  was sang in English and Spanish

3. During a “Time of All Ages” session, when they call all the children up to introduce them to what they’ll be learning in Sunday school before they are sent off, an old couple read to them out of an Amnesty International picture book called We Are All Freea book celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“What if you you went home and your mom wasn’t there?” they introduced the topic, “Or your father? Your brother? Your sister? What if one of your friends just disappeared?” Amnesty. International. In church. Whoa. They are barely even welcome on UW’s campus.

4.  A reading of a poem called “Exiles” by Juan Felipe Herrera.

5. “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Catos)” by Woody Guthrie as an interlude sung by, what else: an older gentlemen with a guitar strapped ’round him and jowls that shook with compassion as he sang. Our little agendas had an insert with the chorus for us to sing along to and a brief synopsis of the event that inspired the song.

Thoughts? It was all very strange to me. At this point I was pretty amused, but not in a belittling way–I hadn’t worked out how I should feel yet. At the same time, I felt like I had learned a lot, and was struggling to take notes on all the names and thoughts I heard. The sermon that came next was really spectacular. Although she is still a ministerial internal, she was phenomenal. She was so well-spoken and gave a really compelling lecture encompassing Martin Luther King, Jr., immigration, social inequality, and racial injustice. She was passionate and so sincere in her outrage and her call for us change and inspire change that I think everyone shared her outrage, but also felt guilty that they hadn’t thought about what she was saying before. There were statistics. People let out church murmurs of outrage and sympathy and surprise…I honestly felt like I was at an academic lecture. Not that needs to be said to justify it’s worth otherwise, just telling you how I felt. I felt like a student again.

During the lecture she read this poem by Carl Wendell Hines that I thought was really wonderful, in a tragic way:

Now that he is safely dead,
Let us Praise him.
Now that he is safely dead,
Let us Praise him.
Build monuments to his glory.
Sing Hosannas to his name.

Dead men make such convenient Heroes.
They cannot rise to challenge the images
We would fashion from their Lives.
It is easier to build monuments
Than to make a better world.

So now that he is safely dead,
We, with eased consciences, will
Teach our children that he was a great man,
Knowing that the cause for which he
Lived is still a cause
And the dream for which he died
Is still a dream.

After the some closing ceremonial stuff, we were lead out with the song Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, which our pastor told us is considered the black anthem, and she was tearing up while singing it.

What do you think? The verdict is still out for me. I want to go again next week and see Matt sing (they only have a choir every other week). While at the same time I thought it was wholly interesting, not sure that I’m much of a church-going gal. These are hang-ups, I know. I like to be involved in stuff…I’m just going to ride it out, see what happens after next week. I mean, I could really be part of community if I wanted to, they have all these hip, contemporary outside activities like yoga, cooking classes, and karate in additional to choir practices, women’s circles, and “Hope Not Dope” events.

Well wishing from the ‘Mericas,

Jacklynn