From the UUMA Intern 

"The goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This month, I'm excited to see my brother who was deported for being undocumented. I haven't seen him in four years. Even better, my mom will be staying with him. My family has gone through its own challenges, and now we're all spread out. One brother lives in Toronto, my mother lives in Myanmar, my dad lives in Virginia and my youngest brother is moving to Atlanta. Sometimes I feel like we're an asterism of stars, like the big dipper, glimmering in the sky connected by a mystery and the divine. We live as a asterism, within a giant constellation, watching carefully which way the arc of the moral universe will bend.

I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with Thanksgiving as a holiday, especially because of its historical premise. To me, it's a story of colonization and violence towards indigenous people. If I see myself relating to anyone in some way in the Thanksgiving story, it is with the indigenous people, because of the colonization experienced by my own people.

Yet, this month the idea of gratitude has become more complicated and pronounced for me. I'm grateful to be able to see my whole family, which doesn't happen as much. When it does happen, it takes visas, patience, passports, more patience, money and it takes a country other than the USA. My brother is unable to return here. It's ironic to me then, that we will be celebrating Thanksgiving this month, which to some people is a story of undocumented immigrants arriving to this country. Yet our current administration has been deporting people and targeting immigrant activists at an unprecedented rate. How do we grapple with the contradictions and truths of Thanksgiving, while maintaining the importance of gratitude and affirming the importance of peoples' struggles and especially those of people of color?

All of this is to say, I've been thinking of what it means to build a beloved community while working on a webinar for the Ministerial Fellowship Network at the UUMA. I find myself thinking how can I bend the arc of the moral universe in a time when it seems like it needs more bending. Grace Lee Boggs, an Asian-American author, feminist and philosopher speaks to this when she states:

"Each of us needs to be awakened to a personal and compassionate recognition of the inseparable interconnection between our minds, hearts, and bodies, between our physical and psychical well-being, and between ourselves and all the other selves in our country and in the world."

Both Boggs and King call us to challenge ourselves, our comfort zones and our biases. To sit in discomfort as we go about this messy, difficult work of building a beloved community in solidarity. To have patience when failure happens. To build a beloved community free of systemic oppression, requires working within a connected community; holding space for imperfection, and to have faith in the mystery that moves between us. 

To end, I leave you with a question, how are you building a beloved community with your communities and/or congregation?