By Jen Devine
In the face of the horrific events in New York City; Washington, DC; and Pennsylvania; we all are feeling the emotional blow of witnessing such devastation.
As Unitarian Universalists (UUs) we have to respond.
We can help create these spaces in our churches and communities.
The following are some resources that might help UUs support each other and those in need:
People may be feeling; numb, sad, angry, helpless, vengeful, bewildered, confused, grief, despair, and many other emotion.
People need a place to process their feelings and place to come together to know they are not alone in their shock.
We must open our church doors and let people come together and talk and share their fears, so that their fears and pain can be released. Many churches have just opened their door to invite people into a safe place to be together.
Unitarian Universalist congregations can be a place where people who are not comfortable with traditional church serves, might come.
Create a service that will hold all the emotions that people are feeling, and give them some sense of hope and not being alone.
Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUUers) are great at planning services that deal with deep emotions, grief, and healing. Be sure to your services are planned with youth and to tailor it to meet the needs and the style of your community.
People of all ages will benefit by coming together to share, include all ages in your services.
All readings are from Singing the Living Tradition, the Unitarian Universalist Hymn book), available through the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Bookstore.
Welcome people, welcome all faiths, all feelings, all fears and frustrations.
"We gather today to find peace and hope in the midst of horrific devastation.
May our time this evening inspire us "to use our powers to heal and not to harm, to help and not to hinder, to bless and not to curse," to love and not to hate.”
Light a candle or a chalice.
Choose a reading of reflection and centering. Three suggestions:
Invite a moment of silent prayer and meditation for all those directly touched by this tragedy. For those who lost their lives, for those wounded, for those who are still trapped, for all those helping to rescue people, for the people who witnessed the crashes and collapsing buildings, for those still trying to find missing people, for those who were responsible, that they may see the wrongness of what they have done, for those who have already suffered a racist slur or a feeling of being blamed or victimized, for the events; for all of us impacted by the imaginings of the terror that others must have felt, and by our own shock at the cruelty humanity can create. May we allow ourselves to feel the depths of our despair, and my we reach out to comfort each other.
Invite people to turn to two neighbors and groups of three to share their feeling about what has happened. Remind people to make sure everyone gets a chance to share.
Return to the larger circle—Give everyone a votive candle. Invite people to go to the center and light a candle. Invite them to share a fear, or a hope they have about the situation.
After many have shared, acknowledge there are other fears and hopes not spoken, that we should acknowledge and make space in our live in the coming weeks and months for ways to express those fears and hopes.
If we are going to get though tough times and survive on this planet, we have to learn how to be with each other, both in our home, in our communities, and in the larger world. To share our gifts with each other, to learn how to help one another, to love across our difference, to love the very differences themselves. We must learn to love not to hate, to have hope and not despair, to find support and not separation, to build community not to feed conspiracy theories. Only together can we build the support of each other to know that this terror only has the power we give it.
End with holding hands, hugs, and blow out the chalice with a reading.
Have people take a candle and exit in silence. Perhaps you can hold a candlelight vigil and join with other congregations in your area and have a silent vigil.
For more information contact religiouseducation @ 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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