February 2021

Greetings to you all,
This month’s Soul Matters theme is “Beloved Community” a phrase first coined by Rev. Martin Luther
King, Jr. I was thinking about the phrase “beloved community” when I was watching the inauguration
and in particular Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem. “A more perfect union” is what strikes me as the
heart of what is meant by beloved community. The notion of striving to get things right, and resting in
the striving, rather than assuming we have reached perfection, is key. More perfect implies that nothing
will ever be finished, that we are each tasked with the responsibility of looking to the next horizon.
Nothing shuts us off from others in our community- whether we describe that as our town, our faith
community, or the spheres of friendship and connection we have through civic groups and interests,
then a belief that we have nothing else to learn, nothing to strive for. If we think of ourselves as having
reached a state of perfection, then we will be unlikely to look to others for more guidance. If we think we
have nothing to answer for, we will descend into arrogance.
Beloved community requires a faith in one another that is sometimes difficult to cultivate, even when
things seem calm. It requires a willingness to let go of trying to have everything you wish from your
community, in order to have most of what you wish for- of making space for letting others have their
voices represented, too. Beloved Community also creates a sense of joy, and maybe even surprise as we
continue to include more and more people and ideas into the circle of our concern. I think of the
Unitarian Universalist idea that no one should strive to answer life’s big questions alone, and that our
faith communities, rather than places to receive dogma, are places to seek questions- in community.
King’s life and work was dedicated to helping bring about the beloved community- a place where
economic and social justice would prevail, and that the sin of oppression would not be tolerated. It is
easy to think of this as some sort of far-off goal, but just like the never-ending pursuit of something more
perfect, the beloved community is found in the striving itself, and in those we meet and grow to love
along the way.
Both of my services this month will focus on our UU principles- but instead of focusing on the principles
themselves, I am going to discuss what qualities we need to cultivate in each other in order to truly
embrace them. The first, forgiveness (necessary for us to see the inherent worth and dignity of
each other) and secondly, perseverance (necessary for the cultivation of justice, equity, and compassion).
All the best of health and joy to you all,
Rev. Valerie