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United by Vulnerability
United by Vulnerability

September 14, 2016

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." —Rumi

If you live by social media—and let's be honest, a whole lot of us do—then you might wonder; is there such a space? For reals, where is the field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing? Where is that place beyond political parties, religious encampments and social class structures?

I long to lie down in that field. When my soul is weary, I force myself to remember.

It was the moment when I stood in a high school biology class and watched the Twin Towers fall. I was in Upstate New York and so many of us had family in those towers or in the blocks surrounding them. No one could get a call out or a call in. I looked at my cell phone, one of those clunky models. I felt helpless. Without a word, one of my friends took my hand. We stood there, slack-jawed, holding hands in the middle of class.

In the weeks that followed, many would say were were united as Americans. It was something else—that hand, the human hand. We were united, for a brief moment, by our vulnerability.

We do meet in this field. 

It tremored in my hands when, as a hospital chaplain, I placed my hand over the head of a newborn child and blessed what was already sacred. In that framed portrait we are there—together—tears brimming at the eyes. Our tears are not Republican or Democrat, neither rich nor poor, Presbyterian or Unitarian Universalist; they are human tears of the holiness held in our midst.


May we be called out into the fields of our longing and belonging. Open our souls this day to being human together.


About the Author

  • Robin Tanner is a Unitarian Universalist minister, poet, and activist who serves as the Minister of Worship and Outreach at Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, New Jersey.

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