Adrienne Rich concludes her 1977 poem "Natural Resources" with these words:
My heart is moved by all I cannot save. So much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those who, age after age,
perversely, with no extraordinary power,reconstitute the world.
When I first discovered those words nearly thirty years ago, most of the poem
made sense to me, except I had no idea why Rich included the word 'perversely.'
What was perverse, I wondered, about reconstituting the world? Wasn't it
reasonable, natural, good?
Now I know. It's the "age after age" part that is perverse. It's the not
stopping part. In the face of devastation, in the face of powers that seem to
mock those acts of reconstitution, it's the ability to believe that those small
acts still matter over the long haul.
This past year, working with Unitarian Universalists and others across the
land in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I have been proud to cast my
lot with the perverse ones. With those who refuse to submit to the devastations
wrought by nature and by the failure of those in power to respond, who have
worked day after day to reconstitute the world.
The work goes on. It hasn't been easy, and it isn't getting easier. I have
learned a great deal about trauma, how it ripples out, shining a harsh light on
schisms and broken relationships which already existed, magnifying them until
they feel truly unbearable. And then, just at that cliff's edge, an equally
clarifying light shines on the healing moments of care and kindness, human
contact restores life, and another day goes by.
If I began to name the names of the people, both in the Gulf Coast and
throughout our religious movement, who have responded with time, attention,
care, and faith, I would be sure to miss someone. So I will just say you know
who you are. The Gulf Coast Relief
Panel and its working advisory
groups, the Trauma
Ministry Team, the area
congregations, and the many, many volunteers who have traveled to the Gulf Coast
deserve all of our thanks.
To mark this anniversary, we have assembled reflections from a few of the
folks who have pitched in. I hope you enjoy them, and I
thank you again for continuing to cast your lot with those of us who are
perverse enough, still, to dare to reconstitute the world.
Rev. Meg Riley Director, UUA Advocacy and Witness Staff Group,
Chair of the Gulf Coast Relief Fund Panel
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Thursday, August 2, 2012.
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