Remembrance Day


In Flanders Fields
by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1915)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It is Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth and Veteran’s Day in the United States of America.

Today, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. are in Geneva, Switzerland, telling the United Nations’ Committee on Torture that police in Ferguson, MO are systematically targeting and harassing black people in a predatory and degrading manner.  They are calling into account a government that treated their son, Mike Brown, and thousands like him, as less than human.

They have taken up their son’s quarrel with the foe of systemic oppression.
Let us join them.

Let us not break faith with those who have died in defense of human rights, human dignity, human life.

May we recognize the grief that flows in and among us today
and may we keep the faith.

PS: In Orleans Parish, mark your calendar to vote on Dec. 6th too, when the state legislature has tried to do an end run around the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and give away its money and control to the Recovery School District (RSD) through a millage vote that doesn’t even list the RSD in the summary that will appear on the ballot.  It is slick, my friends, and it is as wrong.  Mark your calendars for Dec. 6th and vote no on the grand theft masquerading as an education millage.

Read more:

Election Day, November 4, 2014


Today is the day, friends. The day to VOTE.

This is the day when we get a chance to be citizens and constituents, rather than just consumers. Today is the day this nation decides party control over the House and Senate, decides who will address the looming issues of raising the minimum wage, immigration reform, equal pay, and – let us not forget – going back to war.

In New Orleans, many judicial races will be decided today – criminal court, domestic court, juvenile court… Today we elect the people who will decide who goes to jail, who gets custody in a domestic violence case, whether or not your child gets a second chance… Beloveds, in a state that incarcerates more people per capita than any other state in the country, this election matters.

Wherever you live, it is the local elections that will most immediately shape your community. What happens in Washington, DC certainly impacts us, but rarely as intimately as local policy and enforcement.

If you are young – please vote! If you are an elder – please vote! If you are in the sandwich generation – please vote!

If you can vote, please vote.
If you voted early, well done!
If you, like me, plan to vote today – don’t forget!
Vote today.

There are 2,867,473 registered voters in the state of Louisiana. Almost 2.9 million possible voters! Let’s see what it looks like when we all show up to choose the people who will make the decisions that shape our schools and our families, our courts and our country.

With gratitude to everyone who can vote today and grief for all of those denied the right to vote through the gutting of the Voters’ Rights Act and other egregious practices, I wish each of you well. May this election day end with leaders elected who care about you, your families, and our planet.

Go forth in peace and vote!

PS: In Orleans Parish, mark your calendar to vote on Dec. 6th, too! The state legislature has tried to do an end run around the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and give away its money and control to the Recovery School District (RSD) through a millage vote that doesn’t even list the RSD in the summary that will appear on the ballot. It is slick, my friends, and it is as wrong as having to work on Mardi Gras day. Mark your calendars for Dec. 6th and vote NO on the grand theft masquerading as an education millage.


Tonight we stood together around candles that marked the spot where his body was found this morning. Tonight we poured out our stories and our songs, our prayers and our tears. Tonight we reminded each other that we are loved and loving, that our lives have value and are valued by each other. Tonight we said good-bye to a good friend and a committed organizer.
A bright candle
So tomorrow, when you read in the paper or hear in the news that another black teenage boy was found shot to death in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, stop. Please stop and send love to his family, to his friends, to the community that cared for him, cares for him still.
Please stop and let your heart be broken, broken open at least a little bit, with compassion for a child who was loved, will always be loved, and for those who love him. Mark the passing of a dear soul light who shined brightly in this world and made it a better place.
If you pray, pray for us, pray with us.
Grieve with us. Mourn with us.
And then – organize.
Organize with us to heal this world, to change it into a place where 15 year olds are not killed by guns — are not killed at all. Make George proud.

Moving at the speed of gratitude

This morning
Sitting with the grief of more painful news
I pick up my pen
And begin moving at the speed of gratitude
For a community that holds each other
in sorrow and in rage
For the light that wakes us and nourishes creation
For the dark that heals us and rests the world

Today I commit to moving at the speed of gratitude
And find my heart has grown larger
Love more possible
Grace more abundant
At this speed.

turtle by Marty Wolff

The Courage for Compassion

All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the
~Hafiz, 14th century Sufi poet

“It may be that we have lost sight of our mission. Primarily, the church is not for social or political pronouncements, nor for the fashioning and dissemination of erudite philosophical doctrines. It is for the generation of love. The church is the only institution in society so purposed. We strike at the heart of our very purpose for existence when we neglect that major aim.” ~ Albert Ziegler wrote, 20th century Universalist minister

Beloveds, each morning we are asked to take a moral stand on the side of love. May we find the courage and compassion to love like the sun, to generate love in abundance for a world that sorely needs it.

Each time that I facilitate conversations on systemic oppression and solidarity, I am struck anew at how programed we are to defensiveness and denial. Each time, my challenge is to love, simply love. We are not machines, broken and in need of fixing. We are wounded warriors in the struggle of life and we need, each of us, compassionate love to call us to our whole and holy selves.

May we wake each day with the mission to generate love in this world as humbly and faithfully as the sun generates light. May we trust that we can lean on each other for comfort when the struggle is relentless. May we know in the bones of our bones that we are not alone. May this knowledge give us the courage to shine the light of compassion on everyone. No exceptions.

Sun Love

When in doubt, choose the side of Compassion

Rumi--what we speak

The Thursday following the fundamentalist disruption of worship service at First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, a Pro-Woman, Pro-LBGTQ, Pro-Religious Freedom rally was planned for City Hall. It may not surprise you that the Unitarian Universalists showed up. Dozens of Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts, signs, and stoles were vividly on display. A small but exceedingly vocal counter-rally was staged on the hill above the rally by some who had apparently raced back to New Orleans from Baton Rouge for this very purpose. Even with the bullhorn, it was difficult to hear what was being said at the rally over the yelling of the anti-choice protesters.

And so a group of people, mostly UUs, turned toward the hill, forming a sound barrier between the those speaking their truth in the center of the safe circle and those screaming their truth from the hill, and began to sing (to the tune of Siyahamba, a South African freedom song,) We are standing on the side love, we are standing on the side of love. The singing continued until everyone had had a chance to speak their truth in the Pro-woman, Pro-LBGTQ, Pro-Religious Freedom space.

As the rally drew to a close, everyone not on the hill joined hands, forming a gigantic circle, and sang together: We are standing on the side love, we are standing on the side of love. Rev. Melanie Morel-Ensminger blessed us all, sending us off with the wisdom to “Go Now in Peace.”

The police were on alert and surrounded the park – subtly…We were allowed to protest injustice in peace. Our right to do so was affirmed by the community and by the powers that be.

Friends, that’s a privilege we have not extended to #Ferguson or the many communities of color protesting the extrajudicial killings of children and young adults. Please, before you say “they just need to calm down,” consider the humane and human need to protest injustice. May you tender the communities’ outrage with mercy, with compassion, perhaps even, with love and holy curiosity.

May you withhold your judgment. In times of grief, there is no room for our shoulda, woulda, coulda…. only room for compassion.

If you cannot find your compassion in this time, please still yourself until you can. And if you wonder where it went, spend some time thinking about how systems of oppression steal the humanity of the oppressor as well as the oppressed. If you cannot find compassion for the human grief of others, you may have lost touch with your own humanity. Beloveds, it is worth the work of undoing oppression to reclaim it.

The Journey is Essential

On the verge of two weeks of study leave, I offer this ancestor wisdom to the world:








Journey with peace, courage, mercy, compassion, and love beloveds.  And may our dreams be realized…

Circle Round for Freedom


The opposite of liberal religion is not conservative religion. It is fundamentalism – the deep certainty that there is only one truth and only one way of knowing that truth. As a liberal religion, Unitarian Universalism acknowledges a plurality of possibilities; lifts up that the Dominant Culture may dominate – but that it is dominating other cultures, other truths, other experiences of the world. The work of our faith is deeply grounded in this vision of a multiplicity of stories being seen, heard, and respected.

I did not know when I drafted these words, an early Sunday morning handwritten addition to the printed text, that they would be radically embodied that day by events in a congregation I serve as a community minister. In the midst of our prayer and meditation, fundamentalist disruptors began spewing hate and vitriol into our holy, sacred space.

Beloveds, I have never been prouder of my faith community. The youth led the way in circling the congregation together, forming a ring around the sanctuary and singing sustaining songs. Soon it became clear who was choosing to be beloved community and who was trying to destroy it. Even in this distinction, all were notified that they were welcome to remain in worship if they could do so respectfully. If not, they were respectfully invited out the front door, to protest outside.

The congregation met the challenge of religious terrorism with courage and a commitment to the values of our faith, standing on the side of love without surrendering to hate.

Now is the time to stand together, beloveds.  Now is the time to remember that we are not alone and that we are called forward to live lives of radical hospitality grounded in courage and compassion.

Whatever your faith tradition, I invite you to stand with Unitarian Universalists and other liberal religions besieged by hate-filled rhetoric that can trip so easily from violent words to violent deeds. Stand with us against those who would destroy the concept of religious freedom, those who invade and desecrate sacred worship space, who terrorize children and adults with their malice.

Stand with us on the side of love.

Keep the Faith


This morning I tended to my garden and that of an elder neighbor. Walking back into my home for a second cup of coffee, I realized that I felt more like a grounded, alive human being than I have in a while. In the past few weeks, the phone has rung repeatedly, bearing news of grief and sorrow or rage at yet another systemic injustice personally harming a beloved. So many people and so many places suffering all at once… And so I have remembered to return to the garden, to keep faith with the source of life, as I continue to live and minister in this beautiful, wounded world.

I hold this sustaining wisdom from Rebecca Parker (Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now) in my heart and I share it with you today.

To keep faith with the source of life, knowing that we are not our own and that Earth made us; to keep faith with the community of resistance, never forgetting that life can be saved from that which threatens it by even small bands of people choosing to put into practice an alternative way of life; and to seek and even deeper awareness of that which springs up inwardly in us. Even when are our hearts are broken by our own failure or the failure of others, even when we have done all we can and life is still broken, there is a universal love that has never broken faith with us and never will.