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All We Kindred Pilgrim Souls

By Kayla Parker

I wrote a longer blog post, explaining the clear linkage that I saw between two important decisions that were made at this year’s General Assembly: repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and expanding the definition of a congregation. I was then searching for a way to explain this in a liturgical and motivational manner. This sermon-esque response is in written form as well as video blog, both below. For the longer explanatory post, go here.

Video Blog

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Written Blog

The answer to my search for a motivational way to share this message was in the name of our Offices’ blog the whole time. The answers to our hardest questions are always right in front of us, aren’t they?

Blue Boat.

We chose this name as a tip of the hat to the hymn Blue Boat Home by Peter Mayer, a favorite song of many Unitarian Universalists, and especially popular for youth and young adults. It’s so popular because we all relate to it.

We are all pilgrims – people who journey to sacred places for religious reasons.

“Leaning over the edge in wonder

Casting questions into the deep

Drifting here with my ship's companions

All we kindred pilgrim souls”

There is an amazing sense one gets through this song of being on an independent journey, but also of deep connection to other people and the earth.

We are all of the earth – one small part of the interconnected web of life.

“I give thanks to the waves upholding me

Hail the great winds urging me on

Greet the infinite sea before me

Sing the sky my sailor's song”

Feeling this connection with our fellow travelers and the earth, we are reminded of the interdependent web of life and our responsibility to it.

How can we be pilgrims who do not re-commit the same atrocities as the ones who came to settle the United States by way of the Doctrine of Discovery?

The answers are, of course, right in front of us. In the great winds urging us on, the waves upholding us. They are in the wise and ancient earth that is constantly reminding us that we are of it, and do not own it. They are in our fellow travelers, our ship’s companions.

Knowing that we are all pilgrims on sacred journeys, let us create spaces that are welcoming to all.

To those on the borders, to those without homes, to all wanderers and worshippers.

Let us not be confined by the physical space we occupy but have no right to own.

Let our faith breathe and move in people and the many forms they gather, not suffocate between walls.

We are all migrants – we have travelled far and have many miles to go.

“I was born upon the fathoms

Never harbor or port have I known

The wide universe is the ocean I travel

And the Earth is my blue boat home”

I look forward to never having to explain to another congregation that campus ministry is not something to do to ‘bring more young people into the pews’. Until that day, may I take a deep breath and explain that campus ministry, like many other ministries, is an outreach ministry to extend one’s congregation beyond it’s walls, not try to fit more people into them.

May we remember when we have been forced into a box.

May we forgive those who wronged us.

May we remember when we have forced others into a box.

May we ask forgiveness from those we wronged.

May we forgive ourselves,

and learning from our human error

live each day with more humanity and humility.

May we be a movement of religious communities as diverse as the lifestyles and cultures of all who seek a community of acceptance and accountability in their search for truth and meaning.

May our religious movement be a home for all wanderers and worshippers.

We are all migrants. We are all pilgrims. We are all of the earth.

May there be space here for all of us.

Note: the use of the hymn Blue Boat Home has been used with permission from Peter Mayer. Many thanks to Peter!