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  • Writer's pictureMetta

A sermon close to Valentine's day

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

I want us to start by just resourcing, leaning into this Earth that loves us and is holding us. And any other resources that hold us, support us, like God or Goddess, love from others.

A quote from James McCrae: You are not alive to conform to soul crushing social expectations. You are alive to actualize your highest purpose by waking up to your inherent creative nature as a living miracle wearing a temporary human disguise

A temporary human disguise. We are a living breathing miracles, incredible in all that we are, in what I now call a clever human disguise. Stardust, spirit, all of the unique things that make us who we are in the world. Each so unique. There is only ONE you.

Meditation teachers I have studied with have often mentioned that the people they have been supporting often have the hardest time in loving kindness and forgiveness practices when they are directing that love, and care, and forgiveness to themselves. I had one of the teachers say to me, “hey you know how we say “all beings” all the time? That means us too.”

A lot of it is because of the ladder we are on. The visionary Sonya Renee Taylor who wrote the book “The Body is not an Apology” talks about how we all get put on this ladder. That the systems of harm and domination we are in, that uphold capitalism, foist us onto a ladder. Some of us high on the ladder, others of us at other positions. Examples of this include white privilege, age, physical attractiveness according to narrow and harmful definitions, level of wealth, ableism - there is a big list of attributes that put some of us up high on the ladder, others lower. And we get consistent messaging about how important it is to be elsewhere on the ladder, to get higher, and to harm and climb over each other and police each other to uphold the “rules”. We get consistent messages of how we need to look, or act, or behave, to belong. But Sonya Renee also talks about how this ladder is artificial. It’s fake.

We embody different bodies, different cultural experiences and ancestries, different physical attributes and abilities and appearances, language - we are not all the same. And that is special, beautiful. And this harmful ladder we are on makes it a comparison and competition. Gives a story that we are not enough. And ultimately it divides us. It separates us from our human family. And it let’s power stay in power. We act out what power needs to keep these systems perpetuating on others, out of fear and to keep our spot on the ladder. And because we often had to give up some of our own authenticity to be in that spot we are angry and in pain.We stay divided. We compare ourselves to others, compare others to others. We put each other down, try to keep each other in their place on this ladder, keep this ladder in place through our own pressure on other people. We exist in systems that enforce this ladder, that are built to enforce this ladder, that are unkind to who we are and pressure us to be something else, and this can be violent.

But for each one of us, in the words of Sonya Renee Taylor, our body is NOT an apology.

Even though we navigate spaces that may make us feel that way. Each one of us, our body is not an apology.

And we should not have to be pressured to trade authenticity for community.

I’m transgender and who I am is under attack in the U.S.. From people who are using my lived existence and the lived existence of other trans people as a way to have political power, to gain votes, to split and divide us all on untruth. To insist that people who have no idea of what it is like to be transgender know more than my own knowing. They ultimately want to control and remove my access to what has been life-saving. And they are coming from deep messaging around gender and who gets to be on the ladder and where and why. I had to shut down so much of who I was for years and years in order to stay alive. And these people attacking who I am, want to ultimately insist that I live a life that is not mine, or suffer being ostracized, and removal of community. The ultimate message is that people like me should not be given love. That there is really only one place to be on the ladder or suffer consequences.

Trans people, we exist, we have always existed, we are a part of the human family, the Earth, loved and held. We exist in a sacred gender galaxy of all of humanity and all beings.

Alok V. Menon is another incredible writer and visionary, who receives constant negative response from others due to Alok’s personal gender expression. And Alok has pointed out something really important. Something where if you don’t remember anything from this sermon, I want you to remember this:

Love is not limited. Love is an endless resource. There is enough love for all of us. We don’t need to be in an artificial created situation where we feel we should be different, change, abandon parts of ourselves, in order to be loveable.

As a friend said, love is not like pie, if you and you and you get some, there is still plenty left.

What if we don’t treat love like it’s scarce?

What if we look at ourselves with love? Just one step at at time? And start to walk away from the ladder?

What if we gently forgive ourselves?

What if we undo shame, and engage in repair where we must, but stop abandoning parts of us in the cold?

Shame is a natural human response to having done something we are not proud of, to help us engage in getting back into community. But it's been turned by power into something far more harmful - a notion that we "are bad" instead of having messed up, done something we regret. We need to engage in repair, but we need to not believe this is proof we are "bad".

What would it be like to wake up each morning, and just pause and say to yourself, I’m sending you love, wishing you ease, wishing you well, wishing you protection?

This can be hard to do for many of us with the messages we have received across our lives. Loving kindness practice can help. It’s one way.

Maybe you feel like you love yourself tons, and you are like “nah I got this”. But check-in. When was the last time in your head you critiqued how someone else looked, something about the way they talked or what they wore? When was the last time you were critical to yourself in a really mean, not gentle voice? What about where you didn’t understand something about how someone else exists and you went into a place of dislike? Where and how do you feel shame?

I just mentioned earlier the parts of myself that I had to shut down for a while to stay alive. But I have to remember how many messages I have internally that I am still working through of negative negative commentary towards others - their bodies, their personal expression.

When you hit those soft spots, where your feeling bad about yourself or turning it towards another, turn on the loving kindness. Compassion. Step back. “Wow, I’m so sorry you are feeling this way”. You can even put your hand on your heart.

I now pause and say to myself when I notice this “what is your unmet need? Where and how can I give you more love?” because it is often coming from a very old wounded place. Something that was created long long long ago. Some unmet need, or some message I got, that linked love, community, being accepted, to being a certain way, a way that I was not. Or some other deep unmet need.

Alok said (and this was my best taking notes in a conversation I was listening to - this may be imperfect):

I’m realizing every day

How do I love harder

The more that I love the parts of me shrouded in shame

I don’t have space in me for grudges, because I love me

And I want to protect my leisure

My rest

I don’t have room in me for toxicity

And In response to toxicity in social media, to someone who had been unkind of Alok’s appearance:

Hi Friend! Can you at least be honest about what’s going on here please? I am your mirror. Every time you point a finger at me, three fingers are pointed back at yourself. This is not about my hair, this about your heartbreak. Im sorry that beauty norms keep you feeling adequate. I believe you’re beautiful not because of what you look like, but becuase of who you are. I, for one, am so happy to be a human being, not a statue. Like the earth, my body blooms. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I am grateful to finally rest in this luscious garden. Next time you feel compelled to offer unsolicited advice to a stranger, redirect that energy to yourself. Ask yourself: what part of me is being provoked? Shower it with love, Love is the antitote to fear. Rooting for you.

This isn’t being selfish or self-centered to turn towards the self and really check in about all of this and send loving care within. Grounding in love and kindness within, we bring it with us, especially if we dedicate then ourselves to leaving NO one behind.

And this love - this shift to loving ourselves and all beings - never means allowing anyone acting harmful to do so towards ourselves, or not having boundaries. It’s the opposite, it means we become our own primary partner in our love of ourselves, so we look after ourselves. Each one of us is a precious resource.

And so when you get off track, when things get really hard, can you also remember to call in your resources? Like bringing in how a loved one sees you.

We become so powerful when touch this love. This love that exists in a deep deep well. When we tell a new story. When we turn away from these harmful systems we are in making us feel bad, alone, shrouded in shame, or trying to crush or remove parts of ourselves to be on the ladder, to be the same. When we can touch that love.

We could all walk away from this ladder. We could walk away today. And the ladder would fall.

When I was 16, I was drawn to Unitarian Universalism. I didn’t even agree with the minister of the church I was going to. But I was drawn in because of the Unitarian Universalist 1st principle. The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person. I knew, my own knowing was that I was born right the first time, that I had a place in the family of all beings. Just as you all do.

Here is a poem. One as a U.U. I have heard over and over again. It’s one that every time gets me. Brings me home again.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

May all beings, no matter how small, how large, on the land, in the water, in the air, be at ease, be safe, be free. May all beings know they are loved and held. May we be brave, and always help turn the world towards love, and be a part of the great river of caring.

Amen and blessed be.

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