Beyond Categorical Thinking

There is both safety and isolation in the boxes that define us; but are we brave enough to peer out of those boxes and explore our lives and our community on a deeper level.  Our service will examine the nature of identity and the limiting ways those identities sometimes confine us.  During this post-election time, Reverend Jennie will begin the service with some comforting words:

Remarks in the Aftermath of the Election

For Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rev. Jennie Barrington,

Interim Minister for

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of

Columbia, South Carolina

Dear Members and Friends,

When I heard the results of the elections, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, I felt like I was on another planet. Almost everyone in our nation is shocked. And many people are grieving, especially if they worked on political campaigns. But I am not on that planet alone; none of us are on that planet alone. We have each other; we have organizations, local, regional, and national, that share our progressive values and mission; we have the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Standing On the Side of Love movement, and Unitarian Universalists everywhere.  And we have Planned Parenthood, and the Black Lives Matter movement, and the ACLU, and the NAACP, and coalitions against gun violence, and organizations that support immigrants and refugees. Now is a time for us all to clarify, articulate, and recommit to the peoples and causes our hearts call us to advocate for, and to volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.

When we are shocked, grieving, and aggrieved, we need to give extra attention to caring for ourselves and each other, tenderly. People have told me that they are feeling physically unwell, frightened, emotionally distraught, angry, depressed, unsteady, and/or overwhelmed. In the days ahead, please remember that I, and all of us, are here to listen, and to lend help and support. And we should keep in mind that everyone processes shock and grief on their own individual timeline. We are here to listen to you. And no one will push you to talk about these things when there are times when you can’t do so. When processing shock and grief, try to stay in good habits, and try not to slide into unhealthy habits, because bad habits can become vices. Try to keep getting enough sleep, eat healthily, exercise regularly, and avail yourselves of things that are renewing for your spirit, including songs, poems, quotes, essays, and being out of doors. Try not to lose your sense of awe and wonder.  Call up someone who loves you, even if you are not sure what you are going to say. And don’t think that you are being overindulgent by saying some of the same things several times. That’s how we process shock and grief. And it’s going to take many conversations, over many months, for us to begin to make sense of the election season we have just been through, with its wretched rhetoric and behavior.

In the days ahead, we are all going to need extra caring, wisdom, and insight. I know that you, and the many new people who keep joining us, will find that caring, wisdom, and insight in our congregational home. Our congregation is more sorely and urgently needed than ever. It is the fount that strengthens, inspires, comforts, and renews us, as we journey through conflicted and chaotic times. I’ll close with the benediction that my mentor, the Rev. Fred Lipp, spoke at the end of every worship service at First Parish Portland, Maine, Unitarian Universalist:

“Fix, oh, Lord, our steps–  so that we may stagger not in the uneven motions of the world–  but go steadily on our way–  neither censoring our journey by the weather we meet–  nor turning aside from anything that might befall us.”
I hope to see you at church soon,

Rev. Jennie

“It’s a privilege to be here.”