It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted anything. It’s probably time to get back to it. I’ve had a lot going on, most of it good stuff, that I hope to write about.
On June 10, I had the privilege of offering a reflection and prayer at the Interfaith Pride Service in Knoxville. Beginning with the songs, How Could Anyone and How Can I Keep From Singing, we explored our fear and our sadness because of how our society demeans those of us who don’t fit some perceived normality. Sadness soon turned to determination as Juniper Stinnett, Youth Coordinator at TVUUC sang an original song asserting our right to be who we are. That was immediately followed by members of the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus singing Not My Father’s Son, from the musical Kinky Boots, detailing one character’s journey to breaking free of his father’s expectations, finally being free “just to be me.”
One young person spoke of the day in 2008 that a man walked into TVUUC and started shooting, and how that experience has shaped her life up to this point. Another young person spoke about finding love in a UU church community after giving up on finding acceptance in a religious setting. My reflection was on how the four elements of Air, Earth, Fire, and Water can inspire and empower us.
Following a beautiful ritual where everyone exchanged flowers as a sign of hope, the choir sang We Will Sing the World Whole Again by Mark Burrows (listen to it here). The piece starts out with individual singers speaking hurtful phrases that many of us have heard. “You aren’t welcome here!” “You’re going to burn in hell!” “You’re an abomination!” “Don’t break the law and you won’t be punished/have your children taken away!” Just when it seems this cacophony of hate is going to triumph, we hear an individual voice: “We will sing,” gradually joined by the rest of the chorus until the hateful words are silenced. The refrain is “We will rise from the senseless pain and violence. Fear will fail and love will win. And a new song will echo in the silence. We will sing the world whole again.”
A tenet of my spirituality is that our words have power, and that speaking something brings it about. That’s why we sing about answering the call of love, and defiantly shout “Love has already won!” We proclaim in song that “War is over, if you want it,” not because we have moved past war, but because that is the world we want to bring about. We boldly state, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes” because we are called to realize Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of Beloved Community.
We sing to make the world whole again.