Would you join me in a breath and a sigh? [all do so]
And in a breath with a roar! [all do so]
And, with a hand on your heart if you wish, a breath with a long ‘yummy yumm’. [all do so]. Thank you.
We have a term in my improvisational practice, InterPlay. The word is Group Body and it refers to a sense of combined presence, greater then the sum of its parts. We say that the group body is expansive enough to hold us no matter how loud and outrageous we are and flexible enough to hold us when we’re small or broken.
I’ve been coming to First Parish a very long time, since I was in high school. But not regularly for many of those early years. I was a fringe dweller – not certain of commitment. A change in the benediction brought belief that this is a community that adapts to its members. We used to end with, “Honor all people”. To me this felt uncomfortable, restrictive and exclusive of much of life on the planet. One day I wrote to Gary Smith suggesting an alternative: “Honor all beings”. I don’t know what changed the benediction, but I do know that when the benediction changed I felt able to ‘sign the book’, to officially join this flexible inclusive community.
I lost my sister to cancer many years ago. Her death left a devastating hole. In 2018 we started a cancer support group at First Parish. Holding company with those living with cancer is a gift that comes through my hole of loss. I’m so grateful for our cancer support group – you who touch my heart and teach me wisdom and courage with hearty doses of humor each time we meet.
In the last handful of years it has been our racial justice work that has called me to deep uncomfortable places to ask questions of myself and our community – to challenge my place in white supremacy. I feel so grateful to those in this church who continue this hard work – it’s not easy work. And I’m grateful to our worship team for reminding us of our commitment to addressing the hierarchical system with our church and our UU community.
First Parish is a group body flexible enough to hold us when we’re outrageous and striving and tender enough to hold us when we’re broken and in pain. This community will challenge us to roar with conviction for justice. First Parish will invite us to sigh into worship and rest. With food, laughter, music and companionship, First Parish enables us to stir up the yummy nourishment of friendship and renewal. For these I give. This community lives based on our commitment to support. May we all give.