A Message from
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray,
President, Unitarian Universalist Association
Someone said to me recently, “We pull through this by pulling together.” Those words have stayed with me. They remind me that I am not in this alone, that we are in this together, and that we are strong when we lean on each other and pull together.
This week marks the beginning of another holy season. Ramadan begins today for Muslims across the world. In this time of physical distancing, collective grief, and economic hardship, the shared ritual of daily fasting from dawn to dusk is an act that invites compassion for those who experience hunger, charity and generosity to ensure others have enough, a deepened attention to spiritual practices, and a powerful experience of connection and community.
Shared rituals and practices are important right now. They help strengthen connection despite our physical distance. As our congregations continue to meet virtually, the challenges of feeling connected can grow. I have found that lighting my own chalice during virtual worship helps me feel more connected to the community and the experience.
This week also marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. What a time to remember how deeply interconnected our global world is. This isn’t just about the spread of coronavirus; it’s about how important global cooperation is for combatting pandemics and the climate crises; it’s about the economy and how much our well-being and basic needs depend on others. On this Earth Day, may we remember we are knitted together and held by an inescapable social fabric.
This season elevates the values of interdependence, solidarity, and cooperation. Interestingly, Unitarian Universalism lives with an inherent tension between individualism and interdependence. The values of freedom, liberty, and the right of conscience are a core part of our principles as are the values of equity, responsibility, and interdependence. Ideally, this represents a middle path that celebrates the beauty of individuality and the power of beloved community, recognizing the Universalist message that liberation and salvation are not individual but collective.
Today, in our country, we see the stark tensions between these values on full display. We have people protesting stay at home orders in the name of liberty and public officials lifting them despite the risks to public health. On the other hand, we have one of the largest examples of global solidarity ever witnessed with people staying at home and doing everything in their power to help protect their neighbors, elders, those at higher risk, and everyone who must be out working in critical essential services.
Within Unitarian Universalism, our tendency toward individualism can create obstacles to caring for people in their most difficult moments. We are strongest at offering pastoral care, yet as financial and material needs grow, this is a time to take more seriously the practices and networks of mutual aid. How many times have you seen someone drop out of the congregation after being laid off or suffering a major setback? What would it take for Unitarian Universalists to make sure people have what they need to get through this time?
“We pull through this by pulling together.” Everything about this pandemic shows us how interconnected we are – how much we need each other. This is a time for connection, for community, for cooperation and solidarity.
During this season when our lives and world are so different than we imagined they would be just a few short months ago, may we lean in more to the rituals and practices that remind us of our interdependence. May we lean more fully into our relationships and our community. May we all find ways to give more generously, in whatever ways we are able, so that everyone in our communities, large and small, feel held and will have enough.
May we invite the practices that keep us connected, compassionate, and loving in these days.
May loving community surround you and hold you.
Yours in love,
Resources for Your Congregation
Resources and Actions to Ensure Care for All
- Support the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts, fighting to keep their reservation.
- Celebrate Earth Day with UU and multi-faith opportunities, including a three-day virtual Earth Day Live event.
- Donate to Cosecha’s Undocumented Worker Fund to be in solidarity with immigrant families, many of whom are essential workers in this pandemic.
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray spends her days strengthening the thriving mission of this faith. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family and playing with their dog, Hercules.