claiming our power.

29 Mar

Claiming our Power

A sermon by the Rev. Dawn Cooley, delivered at First Unitarian Church, Louisville, KY on March 25, 2012.

Listen to the sermon here.

Beginners, by Denise Levertov

Dedicated to the memory of Karen Silkwood and Eliot Gralla

“From too much love of living,
Hope and desire set free,
Even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea—“

But we have only begun
To love the earth.

We have only begun
To imagine the fullness of life.

How could we tire of hope?
— so much is in bud.

How can desire fail?
— we have only begun

to imagine justice and mercy,
only begun to envision

how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.

Surely our river
cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?

Surely it cannot
drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?

Not yet, not yet—
there is too much broken
that must be mended,

too much hurt we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.

We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.

So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture,

so much is in bud.

Notes/Outline (which I hold on to and rarely reference so they don’t really resemble what I say that well!)

  • Denise Levertov “So much is in bud”
  • Spring buds – full of potential energy, can’t just hoard it

Kinetic means “to move”

  • Time for us to release some of this energy, to get on the move!

Types of Power

Starhawk, Truth or Dare identifies 3 types of power

  • Power over – Can be parental or boss/employee

Comes with love/respect

Can be domination
Controlling people not coming from a place of love but of fear

Control is what abusers/batterers do to try to feel powerful

  • Power Within –

Arises out of our sense of connection with each other, our bonding with other human beings and with our environment

  • Power With –

Among equals, the source of the power is a willingness to listen to each others ideas

Willingness to listen indicates a willingness to be challenged and changed

Denise Levertov “We have only begun to know the power that is in us if we would join our solitudes in the communion of struggle”

Claiming our power

  • Best to be aware of the type of power we have, claim it, and ascertain how best to use it.
  • My own example – CPE, being told I am “intense”. Could decide to deny it – doesn’t lessen my intensity but it makes it impossible for me to consciously use it for good ends.
  • With great power comes great responsibility

Our mission statement alludes to that power we want: First Unitarian Church is a church of reason and spirit that witnesses for our progressive faith, nurtures our community and transforms our world.

That’s all 🙂 We are just about transforming the world.

The phrase that gets me is “witnesses for progressive faith”

  • New member ceremony – why do we join a church – in part we join religious communities to cast our lots with one another; to form a deep community, united in purpose.
  • Witnessing – give evidence of the power of progressive faith in our own lives. Not through words only, but lived, real, tangible.
  • 17 years ago, on March 26, 1995, my 24th birthday, joined a UU church, my parents were there. I cried. Now my mother has joined. I did not foresee that.
  • One year ago, First U provided a powerful witness to the variety of religious expression – not quiet, meditative, but loud, explosive, physical. Roller Derby service. Still holy, and powerful. The video has been seen by over 100,000 people!

Unitarian Universalism has, at times, let our light shine brightly – abolition, women’s suffrage, when we speak truth to power and published the pentagon papers.

  • Dan’s video – where else can you be free to express/share/challenge and be challenged?

This is powerful! But we have to claim it in order to best use it. If we don’t claim it, if we deny our ability to transform ourselves and the world, we will lose our power.

What happens if we lose our power

  • And make no mistake, others are trying to use power OVER – to dominate
    • fear, fear of losing power, fear of losing control
  • Conservative religion is infecting politics, trying to control government at all levels, renew oppression of women, control what our children are taught in schools, and much more.
  • Can’t help but think of the distopia in the Hunger Games, where everything is controlled and our children are pitted against one another. Are we already there, as a colleague of mine suggested?

So let us not deny our power!

  • Not easy, but absolutely necessary.

Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

Does a tulip dither about whether or not to bloom? NO!! So we should not as well.

But her quote does not end there. “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

May we be about the business of liberating others, of witnessing for a progressive faith, for transforming the world. May we claim our power. As Denise Levertov wrote: “We have only begin to imagine the fullness of life. How could we tire of hope? So much is in bud.”

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