Beacon Press, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s publishing house, has just published a collection of meditations by my amazing colleague, Teresa I. Soto. It’s called Spilling the Light, and the piece for which it’s named goes like this:
Some people are used to keeping rules; don’t cross the street when the light is red, only sensible. It turns out that keeping rules isn’t the same as keeping covenant, which asks us, instead of keeping a bright line, to keep our promises.
To what have we promised ourselves? To this moment in time and place. To this community and even, tenderly interconnected, this planet. We promise ourselves to the idea that we are each and all human beings. We promise that there is something moving between us that we cannot tame and cannot measure. The chalice is a reminder that what flame we keep inside us cannot light the way.
The light must spill to shine.
The thing you must be is yourself. Unadulterated, shedding the willingness to journey alone, as though you are made of something hard and unforgivable. You are human. You belong, right here, right now. And together, we will chase away the sickness, the secrets, and leave only the open Possibility that the future is a space for growth.
Life can be overwhelming. Daily we hear about the many ways the very fabric of all we’ve known is unraveling. Whom can we trust? What can we count on? The rules seem to be changing — fast. As we move into October’s theme, Diversity and Inclusion, it’s important to note that the rules have always been precarious for people living on the margins. People in power get to make the rules. Most of us have been relatively privileged. Our ancestors made the rules and we played by them. But a lot of the suffering we’re seeing in the news today, from the burning of the Amazon to military posturing over oil interests in the Middle East, is the exercise of power by people in power for the benefit of people in power — at the expense of everyone else and the planet. The rules are constantly shifting to meet their needs. And in a sense, that’s what rules were always meant to do – to keep people with power in power.
It’s just that now more of us are feeling disempowered — which is not necessarily a bad thing. It calls to question the relationship between rules and power. What happens when the dynamic shifts from “power over” to “power with” — the power of we, the power of love?
Covenant asks us to invoke a different kind of power — a power based on the promises we share, the promises we’re willing to keep, together. It’s true that, “The light must spill to shine” — and we are certainly called to let our light shine, to spill out into a dark world that desperately needs it. But every person carries a spark that can burn only when those sparks unite, creating one flame. What promises are we called to make to each other that will feed that flame? How can we open our hearts and minds, making room for different sparks, different voices that can help feed the flame? It will take a lot of “unadulterated” sparks, shining together on the secrets and sickness hidden in the dark to see into the corners of our culture that have harbored oppression and exclusion for so long. It is my hope that we can begin to see new possibility and grow together.
Read previous monthly messages from Rev. Carol