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Wish You Were Here – 10/28/2012

When you see a rainbow, who do you want to share it with? When you skin your knee, who do you call out for? When you get a good grade in school, or you get hired for a new job, or your pet cat dies, or the doctor comes back with your test results and tells you you’re going to be alright, who comes to mind? When we see beautiful things, when we get good things or bad, when life is going very well or very, very badly, we all have folks we turn to, people we want to share those experiences with. Because the people we love make the good things better, and they make the bad stuff easier to take. We want to share our experiences with the people we care about.

But sometimes you turn to point out the rainbow or share your disappointment and the person you’re looking for isn’t there. Travel down to some sunny beach or scenic canyon or famous city, and you will find someone there selling postcards with pictures of the local sights that say, “Wish you were here”. People buy them and they send them back home or off to other places; to people they wish they could share that experience with, of being in a new place, having some new and wonderful experience.

Then there are the people we love who are further away than a first class stamp or a phone call can get us. The incredible privilege of being alive comes tied up with the fact that we also must die. So many of the people we love leave this life before us, and we remain here, missing them. We feel their absence in big ways and in little ways but perhaps most in those small moments that we would have rushed to share with them, when they were still alive. Often we come to treasure things that remind us of the people we miss. A man keeps his husband’s shirts hanging in the wardrobe they shared. A woman gives her mother’s candlesticks a special place on the mantle. A child holds onto a stuffed bunny her uncle gave her, long after its polyester fur has become matted and worn.

The author Sam Keen writes about his father’s death, beginning with a memory from long before he passed on, when Sam was a young boy. He sat beside his father one day and watched him carve a tiny sculpture of a monkey out of the hard stone from the center of a peach. The young Sam asked for the trinket and his father explained that it was for his mother, but promised to carve one for him as well. Many years passed, and his father grew ill. Two weeks before he died, a package arrived in the mail. It was Sam’s very own peach pit monkey. After his death, Sam’s father wasn’t there with Sam in the same way anymore. His body was gone, and his mind. There were no new thoughts or feelings coming from him, and he wasn’t carving any more animals out of peach pits. But that little figure of a monkey was a reminder of Sam’s father, and the ways in which he was still a presence in his life.[i]

The poet Rumi wrote of death:

I died as a rock, and became a plant.

I died as a plant, and became an animal.

I died as an animal and became a human being.

Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

We are trained to think of death as the end of our selves, or of the people we love, and that nothing more can come from us after we have died. But there is more to it than that, because there is more to us than that. You are more than your body, like a tree is more than its bark and branches. You are your voice and your words, you are your actions and choices, you are the pain that you cause, and the love that you give. And while your body, like mine and everyone else’s, will one day no longer breathe or move or live – all of the rest of what we are will continue on. The way we live now will give shape and color to the flowers that bloom from our having been alive. From what we choose in our time, new love or hurt or fear or joy will follow.

Often this happens in strange and unpredictable ways. As in the case of Sergeant Steve Flaherty, who left home for the war in Vietnam more than forty years ago, and died there, fighting in it. Just before he died, he took the time to write a few letters home to his family. And because of where and when and how he died, those letters ended up with the people he was fighting: the North Vietnamese army and they were not sent home to the people he wrote them for. But no war is forever; today the United States and Vietnam are at peace. After decades of waiting, those letters from Sergeant Flaherty finally made their way home. Messages to the people he loved in life and reminders that the connections we share with the people we care about are strong enough to outlive us.[ii]

But more often what endures after us is nothing so literal as a set of long-delayed letters. The full story of a life continues to play out from the lives of the people we deeply touch. It is possible to make an impression upon the world in this way by doing harm and causing pain, but I believe that kindness and compassion have a greater shelf-life, and in any case, legacies

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formed by them tend to be much finer and worthier things. My grandmother, my mother’s mother, died when I was very young. Growing up, I had no memory of her – just a picture of her holding me when I was a baby. I have always tried to imagine her: who she was, what she was like. I listened to stories from my mother and my grandfather and uncles, and tried to piece together a picture in my mind.

Down the street from the house where my mother grew up there was another house where some family friends lived, and still do. When Sarah and Joe moved into the neighborhood, they were just beginning to start a family, while my grandparents had been at it for some time. Sarah and my grandmother became friends – the older woman lending the younger a listening ear, or a bit of simple advice, as she began to build a household and have children and go through many of the same experiences and challenges my grandmother had already faced. Sarah and Joe were like extra grandparents to my brothers and I, as we grew up. And the friendship that Sarah had shared with my grandmother, their closeness and kindness, echoed down through the years, so that in a very real way, my grandmother could keep giving love to her grandchildren even after she had died.

In the moment when we turn to point out the full moon in the sky, or to share some small triumph or loss, and catch ourselves, remembering that the person we are turning towards has died, it is not in vain. It is not foolish, and it is not empty. For the people we love, and who have loved us, are still here. Their lives, once bottled up into a single form, have spread out into a wider web of relationship. A piece of them is still with us; still shaping who we are, and through us, affecting the world. They can still hear us, so long as we are willing to do the listening for them.

[i] To a Dancing God, by Sam Keen

Risking Unpopular Beliefs – 10/21/2012

There is nothing worth doing – no story worth telling – that does not require some risk of some sort. At the opening of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the titular character, a fellow named Bilbo Baggins, lives a quiet life in a quiet part of the world. Each day begins, unfolds and ends in largely the same way, as Bilbo cleans the same little house, works the same little garden and sees the same little set of neighbors. Things are predictable, familiar, and entirely unremarkable.

Until one day he is visited by a band of strangers about to undertake a dangerous quest and hoping to recruit him to their cause. The offer is bewildering and unexpected, though not unattractive. He is reminded of the romantic stories of his distant ancestor’s journeys and exploits, and feels a pull towards the thrilling and foreign possibility of stepping out beyond his tiny corner of the world. Still, taking that first step into the unknown means leaving home, with its relative comfort and safety, behind. It means risking what he has for something uncertain. Yet, without the decision to take that risk, there would have been no story for Bilbo Baggins at all.

Whatever our ideas or values, we cannot put them into practice, cannot accomplish anything without the courage to risk. To love is to risk losing, to try is to risk failing, to struggle is to risk defeat. Without courage, our other virtues simply gather dust. So today and on several Sundays in the months to come, we will be reflecting on the courage to risk: what it looks like, where it comes from, and what it means to practice it. We’ll also be focusing on examples of courageous people from our own history as Unitarian Universalists. Today, that person is one of our British Unitarian ancestors: a man named Joseph Priestley.

Joseph Priestley was a polymath – a fun little word for someone who is learned and accomplished in many different fields of study at once. In an age in which professions are becoming more and more specialized, and following baseball teams in both the American League and the National League qualifies as “broad expertise”, it can be hard to believe the extensive range of topics that Priestley and others like him explored. He was a man of science, conducting experiments on the creation and behavior of electricity and on air and other gases. He is credited as one of the discoverers of oxygen, and invented the process of carbonation – getting fizzy bubbles into water and other beverages. He was also a scholar of history and grammar, an educator who built schools and wrote text books. He was what might be called today a political pundit, publishing articles on public policy and civic dispute and engaging in live debates with opposing figures. And Priestley was also a minister and theologian, a church founder and denominational organizer.

For Joseph, his many different interests and areas of study were connected to his determination to learn and pursue the truth wherever it took him. He believed that study and the application of reason could provide the best answers to human questions. The value of the scientific method, of which he is a pioneer, may feel at times disputed in our own age, but in Priestley’s it was held in far lower regard. Again and again throughout his life, Priestley published, preached and advocated for the conclusions he reached by applying logic to his studies of the natural world, of history, of law and of the bible. This got him into a lot of trouble.

Probably the peak of that trouble came in 1791, when Joseph Priestley was serving as the minister of a dissenting congregation in the city of Leeds. The city exploded into what came to be known as the Priestley Riots, and for four days homes and churches burned while a marauding mob made violence in the streets. But to understand why that happened, you’ll need a little background.

The idea of the separation of church and state was only in its infancy in the United States then; it had no foothold at all in Great Britain. The Church of England was the established religion of the English state; anyone who worshipped outside of its system or held beliefs contrary to any of its doctrines felt the weight of official repression. Dissenters, as the non-Catholic folks in this category were called, were marked for special taxes, barred from public office and lived with the real threat of criminal penalties for being too successful in spreading their faith. The marginalized congregations of dissenters were mixtures of Baptists, Methodists, Quakers and others. Priestley spent his ministerial career serving these congregations, and his personal theology evolved relatively early in that career to a number of classical Unitarian positions. These included the view that the teacher Jesus, though a uniquely important spiritual figure, was not God; an opposition to Calvinism’s expectation that almost all people were damned from birth; and a belief that the human capacity for reason was a great gift, and should be used to discern the truth in all matters – including the religious.

Priestley’s views were radical for his day – even for the marginalized and heretical congregations he served. And while he wrote about these ideas in pamphlets and books that he published, and preached on them occasionally, he seems to have been quite content to serve as minister among people who did not share his beliefs. The reverse was not always the case however, and so he served a few different communities before eventually helping to found the first explicitly Unitarian congregation in England. Together with other leaders, Priestly began to build the beginnings of a Unitarian denomination in Great Britain, today the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. He was serving one of these congregations in Leeds when the riots broke out.

Joseph Priestley held a catalog of unpopular ideas and beliefs, and his insistence on speaking them aloud and writing them down made him a figure of public scorn in England. He was nicknamed “Gunpowder Joe” to mock his scientific work and point to extreme danger that his heretical beliefs were believed to pose. He was despised for his religious ideas, but also for his political arguments supporting the American and the French revolutions. Political cartoons of the era show him breathing smoke and fire from the pulpit, cavorting with the devil and tossing flaming copies of his pamphlets as though throwing bombs. The vilification by his opponents, including religious and civil leaders, came to a boil in the summer of 1791.

The rioters may have been directed by a local authorities, but they seem to have been triggered, at least in part, by the decision to include some of Priestley’s books in the local public library. These weren’t even his religious texts, but instead some of his books on science and history, which were extremely important works in their fields and were used by students and other scholars for decades after his death. Nonetheless, popular anger over the affront of having a heretic’s books in the public library was enough to whip a drunken, angry mob into action. They burned down or looted four churches, including Priestley’s, and twenty-seven homes, again with Priestley’s destroyed.

He had risked holding unpopular ideas, and had paid dearly for it, but he survived the attack. I am left wondering where he might have turned for comfort in the aftermath of that time. Priestley challenged the idea that the bible was divinely inspired but he still found its words to be profoundly important and meaningful. And if he did turn to scripture for a model of persisting in following beliefs that are unpopular, dangerous and costly, he would have found many to choose from. The tradition holds that Abraham, the first monotheist of his place and time, was the son of a man who carved idols for a living. Responding to the divine as he understood it not only alienated him from family and culture; it even undermined his father’s livelihood. Ruth took her mother-in-law Naomi’s god as her own, forsaking land and culture to join a marginalized religious group in a precarious geopolitical position. Stephen, traditionally considered the first Christian martyr, was stoned for expressing his beliefs.

Priestley did not give up on advocating for his positions, but he did decide, eventually, to move to the newly formed United States, where he could speak his mind and follow his conscience with greater protection under the law. And here is where our story gets sticky in an important way. I’ve spoken before and many of you know about the origins of Unitarianism in the US, how it is rooted here in New England. When Priestley arrived on this side of the Atlantic, the American Unitarians were just beginning to come together as a movement, and they wanted nothing to do with Joseph Priestley. They were still deciding about whether or not to accept the label Unitarian – it was originally leveled as an insult. Priestley wore it proudly. They downplayed their theological differences with the orthodox Christians that they shared towns and congregations with. Priestley was plain about what he stood for, and though he called himself a Christian, most others disagreed. The American Unitarians were the liberal wing of New England Congregationalists, whose congregations in Massachusetts blurred the line between church and state: receiving public funding and enjoying preferential legal protections. Priestley was fleeing the iniquity of state-sponsored religion, and did not hesitate to criticize and challenge it. So our ancestors here in New England largely disavowed Joseph Priestley, as if saying “Whoa, whoa: we might be Unitarian, but we’re not that Unitarian!”

In some sense, Priestley had the last laugh here. He settled in Pennsylvania and helped found congregations there that joined up with the New Englanders when they finally got their act together. His theology would, in some ways, be quite conservative by the standards of our modern congregations, but his ideas are still much closer to where our faith has evolved over the centuries than were his New England contemporaries’. With his belief that the universe could be holy without any need for an immaterial or supernatural level of existence, we can see traces of our present in his past.[i]

Priestley never sought to be labeled a radical, but he expressed his positions and he argued for them, and that appellation fell on him speedily enough. The New England camp were a part of the mainstream establishment when he arrived, and hoped to remain as such. This tension still exists within our movement, as it does to some extent within each human heart: the struggle between wanting to be our own truest, most authentic selves, and wanting to be accepted as a part of the dominant group, with all of the rights and privileges that entails. To choose the truth in our own hearts over what others expect or demand of us may be a danger to our reputations, to our comforts, to our wellbeing or to our very lives. But to do otherwise is destructive to the soul.

Many of our ancestors were turned away, persecuted, expelled or disowned for holding to what they believed, when people in authority preferred a different version of the truth. In fact, many of us here today have had that experience personally. That history and those experiences have led us to build communities on cooperation within difference, rather than relying on enforced sameness. It is an imperative of our faith not only to risk living out what we truly believe, but also welcome and encourage others to do so as well – even when our beliefs are not perfectly matched.

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Practicing both of those requires tremendous risk, and so both require a great deal of courage. Blind confidence will not suffice. We need to know not that we are right – plenty of people in the world are already certain of their own particular outlook – but that if we will not speak for what we love, no one else can be expected to. And so we also listen to the truths that other’s treasure, without worrying that just listening will somehow put our own hearts at risk.

[i] For more and better background on Priestley and these and other stories from his life, please see Motion Towards Perfection: The Achievement of Joseph Priestley, by Schwartz and McEvoy and Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America, by J.D. Bowers.

Our Partner Church

What a blessing it is to receive guests! They offer the opportunity to practice hospitality, they bring a fresh perspective, and their arrival creates the potential for the holiest thing there is: mutual appreciation and respect between people. And on top of it all, every now and then, they come baring presents.

So it was, this past Saturday when I received a guest from Transylvania here at the church. Laszlo Lorinczi was in the United States as a guest of the First Parish in Concord, MA – that congregation, and his congregation in Szekelykeresztur (in Transylvania) have a long-standing and very active partnership. Laszlo made a special trip up from Concord to visit us because his son is Botond Lorinczi, the minister of the Unitarian church in Varosfalva Transylvania – which is our partner church.

The Unitarians of Transylvania – ethnic Hungarians who live within what is now Romania – are the oldest continuous Unitarian community in the world. They have been in existence for nearly 450 years (a century longer than our congregation, and more than 250 years longer than our congregation has been avowedly Unitarian). Persecution and repression kept the Hungarian and English-speaking Unitarian communities of the world largely ignorant of each other until the mid-1800s, but since then many connections have been forged between Unitarian Universalists in America and Unitarians in Transylvania. Our own congregation has a history of offering moral, political and at times financial support to our Eastern European cousins going back to the 1920s. As an ethnic, linguistic, and religious minority group, the Transylvanian Unitarians have lived an inspiring history of creative survival.

The Varosfalva congregation has been our formal partner church for just over 20 years now, an international friendship that connects us to the lived experience of Unitarianism in a different place and culture, and to the global movement of which we are a part. And it was because of this friendship that Laszlo brought us a letter and a set of gifts from his son, Botond, his family, and the rest of our partners in Transylvania. The letter contained the happy news that Botond and his wife Krisztina welcomed their first child this summer, a son named Mate. Included was a framed picture of the newly enlarged family, which will go on display here at our church.

Last year, we sent to Transylvania a picture of our assembled congregation in the sanctuary, and their letter mentioned that, “We always have your picture exposed in our church, so on every Sunday we think of you with great love and respect, and we have you in spirit in our church.” What a gift it is to be connected across oceans, to be thought of kindly by people in another land, and also to able to think of them, to feel connected to them, and know that in this world we are not alone. There are many different ways to be in the world. There are many different ways to be Unitarian in the world. And it is good to know that as we are living our religious quest here, there are others in other places – different from us, and yet also alike – who are doing the same. Perhaps it may be that in some coming year, we may receive the blessing of being able to welcome some folks from Varosfalva as our guests in person. Or even that some of us may be able to receive their hospitality. As Botond and his family closed their letter to us: “We send our best wishes to you with great love, hoping that we will see you in the nearby future!”


In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson

Disappointment As Spiritual Teacher – 10/14/2012

A few months ago, I had an errand that took me down near where I used to live, just a little bit north of Boston. It’s an area I enjoy visiting but hate driving to, so I don’t get there very often. But this trip gave me a rare and welcome excuse to visit one of my favorite restaurants in the world: a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese place with five tables, three friendly and accommodating owners, and a menu full of incredible flavors. I got to be a regular there when I lived in Somerville and worked at Tufts University. I figured out that I could splurge on their extremely cheap lunch special during my lunch hour, provided that I ate quickly and ran both ways, there and back. From time to time, while I waited for my take-out order, one of the folks behind the counter would ask me questions about obscure points of English grammar, trying to make sense of this crazy language he found himself immersed in. I did my best to answer, though I don’t think I was much help.

I was very excited to get to go back to this beloved eatery. As I parked the car and walked down to the storefront, I was lost in thought, still debating with myself which beloved dish I was going to order. Torn between the crispy tofu with peanut sauce, and the spicy, garlic-y kung-pao. I reached the door, I put my hand on the handle and pushed and…nothing. The door did not open. I looked up, really for the first time, and saw that the place was dark and empty inside. The familiar sign was still over the entrance, but there was a little note in one of the windows explaining that, sometime soon, this would be the new home of some trendy new restaurant with a fancy graphic and forgettable name. The place that I remembered so fondly, the place that I had come to visit, was no more. I stood there, out in front of it on the sidewalk, staring, for what must have been a very long time.

Life does not always go the way that we envision it going, and we do not always get what we want from the world. Being human on this planet means facing uncountable disappointments, large and small. We can’t always get what we want, and contrary to what Mick Jagger may have told you, too often too many of us don’t even get what we need.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” we often ask our children, encouraging them to dream big, and set high goals for themselves. But as it turns out, not everyone gets to be president. Not everyone becomes an astronaut. Not everyone becomes rich, or famous, or powerful. Sometimes we get fired, sometimes we flunk out of school, sometimes we fail. And sometimes, particularly when loss piles on loss and disappointment on disappointment, it can become more than we can bear. The poet Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester, like a sore, and then run? Does it stink like rotting meat? Or crust and sugar over, like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”[i] Hughes was inspired by the anger and despair of racial of bigotry and oppression: he was a gay African American man, writing in 1951. Still, the feelings he described apply far and wide, and crop up in unexpected places. There is now, for instance, some thought that the chemicals released in our brains and bodies when we learn that a political candidate we voted for lost cause us so much unhappiness that many of us lose interest in voting all together.[ii]

Stick around long enough and you will be disappointed – by the world, by other people, or by yourself. But there is an opportunity for learning in each disappointment, if we open ourselves up to it. The lessons that any loss or failure can teach us are of three sorts. The first, is to remind us to appreciate what we still have.

The story comes from the Muslim tradition of a man who complained sadly to a wandering teacher about how little he had. “All that I own in the world fits into this wretched sack!” he cried. The teacher nodded at the despondent man, and then snatched the bag out of his hands, running away with it down the road. The poor man was slow, and though he gave chase the teacher was soon too far away to see. But he kept walking on, until he came around a corner and saw the bag that the teacher had sped off with, lying by the side of the road where the teacher had left it for him. He ran to it; inside everything was just as he had left it. Very happy to have all his worldly possessions again, he laughed with joy at his good fortune, and the teacher, watching from a long way off, laughed with him.

Similarly, there was the story a few decades ago of a farmer in the Midwest who loved to read, and spent the first half of his life collecting books. He had so many that he built a separate building on his property to keep them in. A private library for him and his family, built over decades, a few books at a time. But all that paper proved all too flammable. When the farmer’s library caught fire one night, he and his children tried to fight the blaze as best they could, but they soon knew they couldn’t stop it. So instead they watched, and comforted each other, and sang. Finding the bag had made him happy, but it was the loss of the bag that made him appreciate the preciousness of its contents.

Visiting a favorite restaurant and finding that it has gone out of business is a tiny disappointment by any rational measure. And after a few long moments of standing there stunned on the sidewalk, the ridiculousness caught up with me. I took stock of my blessings, including the happy memories I still had of the meals I had shared in this place that no longer was. And I was reminded of what my life was like when I lived in that neighborhood – both the good parts, and the bad.

In our movement, there is a panel that accredits ministers; they determine who enters the fellowship of our ministry, and

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so who can go looking for a congregation to serve. When I lived in Somerville, just after finishing my seminary education, I went before this panel seeking their approval. I did not get it. Instead, they gave me some advice, and some suggestions for things I could work on. If I still wanted to become a minister, I could come back and see them in a year and a half or so, and they’d tell me if they thought I was ready then.

It was a hard hit to take. I had a dream, an ambition, a calling, but my way to get there no longer seemed certain. I could keep working on it, but nothing was assured. And for at least the next few years I specifically could not do what I had been planning to do professionally: I did not have permission to look for a congregation to serve as minister. While I was reeling from that, we got some far, far bigger news: my partner Sara and I learned that we were pregnant with our first child. It was happy news, but there was struggle in it, too. I had a lot of hope tied up in my call to the ministry, but I had also been banking on it as a career, and a means to support my family. All of that was on hold now, and I had to wonder at times if it would ever move forward.

Harvard law professor Lani Guinier faced a very large, very public disappointment when she was nominated to serve as Assistant Attorney General in 1993. There was a lot of loud shouting against her in the national press, based on over-simplification and misrepresentation of some of her scholarly ideas. Eventually, the noise grew so loud that her nomination was withdrawn. The lesson that she took from that experience was to see failure’s potential as a positive and creative force. “[F]ailure can be a moment of liberation at the same time that it is a moment of sadness or despair…Success is failure turned inside out.”[iii] In the film Batman Begins, young Bruce Wayne’s father tries to teach him much the same lesson after a very bad fall: “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

This is the second sort of lesson to be found in disappointment: the power within ourselves to do something we did not know we could do. Sometimes we fall short of some goal, and recommit ourselves to trying again even harder on the next go round. In my case, I kept on the path to the ministry. It wasn’t a dream I was willing to give up on; it wasn’t a call I felt I could leave unanswered. And eventually I was welcomed into fellowship, I got to become a minister and, well, here I am. But sometimes disappointment really does end a dream: what we need to remember then is that it does not end every dream. Lani Guinier didn’t get a second shot at serving in government, but she has continued a distinguished career as a scholar and activist, and now also speaks and writes about the creative possibilities of failure.

A mentor of mine tells the story of chaplaining a young man who’s spine was broken. Some of the members of his family did not accept his diagnosis: that he would not walk again. His uncle, a pastor, called on God to restore him to the fullness of life by returning full control over his limbs. The chaplain responded: “My God is bigger than that. The God I believe in can give this young man a full and complete life with a major spinal injury, and whether or not he walks again.”

A little while ago, colleague of mine asked me for a small favor. A member of her congregation was coming to Boston to meet with that panel I mentioned earlier, the one that accredits our ministers and determines which hopeful candidates will enter into fellowship. This congregant of hers would be making the trip alone, and she asked if I could support be there to support a stranger going through a difficult process – one I know pretty well at this point, having been through it twice myself. I answered ‘yes’ without thinking too much about it, and I did so because of the third learning that disappointment has to offer.

The third lesson of disappointment is the most subtle, but also the most important. It is that our losses and failures connect us to each other. Sometimes we disappoint ourselves, falling short of our own ambitions or ideals. When you lose or falter, somewhere inside yourself you should still know that you matter; that even if you are not so perfect as you hoped, you are still worthy of happiness and love. And if that is true for you, it must be true for everyone else as well. The persistent reality of our shared imperfection is a reminder of a greater reality: Each life is inherently worthwhile, and each of us has the opportunity to live out of that worth not at some distant point in the future, or back in some missed opportunity of the past, but right now, in every moment of every day. Some days – most days – we let ourselves and each other down. The world itself lets us down. But in the sting of those losses is a reminder in three parts: that we still have gifts and blessings to appreciate and cherish, that losing once does not mean we can never win again, and that the feeling of disappointment is something that touches every heart, and so should unite us, rather than dividing us.



[i] “Harlem”, from his collection, Montage of a Dream Deferred.


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