July 25, 2016
I served First Unitarian of Saint Louis for five very good years. Sadly, as I was getting ready to leave one member of my congregation was going through her last days. It grieved me not only to hear that Mimi Hubert hd died, but also to know i would not be unable to lead the service in celebration of her life. I was very glad that Mimi’s friend, the Rev. Margaret O’Neal could lead the service. I was glad to write a short rememberance that Margaret could read to my fellow mourners. I want to share those words here also, because they speak to the nature of our religion:
“When I Think of Mimi, I Smile”
Rev. Thomas Perchlik, July 2016
I every time that I saw Mimi Hubert, even when she was very ill, she smiled. Sometimes her smile was a simple gesture like the half-smile of the Buddha: compassionate and kind. She knew the pain and difficulty of relationships gone awry. Still, she smiled sweetly. Sometimes it was that big goofy grin, full of her humor and good will. She was willing to look for the good in any situation.
When Mimi was the center of planning and organization for the huge RainbowCon, when a couple of hundred youth gathered in this church, she worked for months to put everything in order. It was serious work. As we arrived at that weekend the stress of the work was obvious in her face. And yet, often I saw her smiling, opening her arms wide to give anyone a hug, and enjoying the happy energy of all those fine young people growing in the garden she had prepared for them.
Even in the hospital, recovering from difficult treatments and struggling with depression, she smiled, laughed, and showed immense kindness to others who were more ill than she was. When ever I think of Mimi, I smile
July 9, 2016
Yet again our nation has been wracked by the bloody mix of guns, fear and anger. In one instance a loner, crazed by hateful thoughts, used a gun to kill many strangers. In another a police officer, frightened by seeing a gun, killed a non-threatening man in a car.
Far too often people with guns in this nation kill people they know, but we are more disturbed by attacks on strangers. The most recent mass-shooting targeted police officers, and the killer invoked racial hatred as a motive. Thus this particular act of violence took on a particularly tragic quality. But in the end it is the same as other mass-shootings, a crazed person, acting as a free individual with a gun, wrought havoc on several fellow citizens.
Likewise, if Jeronimo Yanez or Philando Castile had not possessed a gun, that particular traffic stop could not have ended in death. Race was secondary to that situation. It adds to the fear and misunderstanding between people. If both men had been white and carried guns the situation was also likely to end in violent death, if slightly less so. It is the fear of violence and the way we use guns to amplify our that fear that must be opposed by the spirit of love. To paraphrase Christian scriptures, “We fight not against flesh and blood but the powers and ruling ideas of this troubled world.”
We, Unitarian Universalists, as a religious people, consciously dedicate ourselves to respond to gun amplified fear by working for Love and Justice, Dignity and Tolerance. Our goal is to counter the fear and terror created by these mass-shootings. Our goal is mot to merely end all the gun related violence in our nation, (and in our world). We want to create a spirit of peace. We have no one single method for undoing this violence. Some of us focus on gun control legislation, and others on raising awareness of our own biases. But in worship, together, we will represent our shared dedication by lighting a flame in a chalice. The flame represents the one spirit and truth that inspires us to use all resources available. We use our feelings of sadness, even helplessness, to support one another, and to create peace.