Speaking From the Heart

On Tuesday I had the honor of participating as a community faith leader in the Inaugural Diversity Breakfast for Stamford and Southwest Connecticut, held at the Ferguson Library. The event, led by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the City of Stamford, included table conversations among community leaders from many different faiths and community organizations about how we might “build bridges and promote dialogue amongst our diverse communities in this fractured and difficult moment”.

At my table, we envisioned intentional conversations where people might engage in difficult conversations peacefully. I shared about the work we have been doing at UUC– including the circle we held this past Sunday. In that circle, about 20 of us gathered to share our feelings and reflect on possible actions in response to the violence in Gaza and Israel. Guided by the covenant of our Anti-Oppression Team, we spoke from the heart, and listened as others shared their thoughts. Candles were lit for both Israelis and Palestinians– for those taken hostage, and for all those who have died and are without food. We discerned a few things we might do together as a community- including continuing the conversation and building relationships with the diverse communities outside our walls. Though we do not all share the same opinions, we were able to hold one another in love.

The story I shared inspired our AJC facilitator to tell the packed auditorium that she wanted to join the Unitarians! The ability to gather in a circle, to speak with respect, and to listen with compassion is rare in these times; it is hard work we can be proud of and share with others.

In the coming weeks we will continue to practice this hard work– to discern the call of our faith to work together for peace, to respect the dignity and life of all human beings, and to stand against hate and oppression. I will be sharing more on this, with wisdom from our Unitarian Universalist tradition, in our service on May 26th, which will be followed by the Dedication of our Peace Pole on our front lawn.

I also invite you to join me for another opportunity to reflect on the impacts of war and oppression with the live staged reading of Words from the Front next Friday evening (May 17th at 7:30 in our Community Room). This event lifts up Russian and Ukrainian voices in telling their stories, with actors from the larger community. This free event will be followed by discussion.

Please join me as we continue to listen, to learn, and to work for peace in this troubled world together.

Rev. Terri