© Barbara F. Meyers 2009. All Rights Reserved.

A sermon delivered at Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation on March 29, 2009

Meditation Reading

We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.

Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.

And there are things to be considered:

Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader. This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

-The Elders Oraibi Arizona Hopi Nation

Sermon - We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For

When Barack Obama became president, many felt a sea-change in our personal and collective views who we are as a nation and what our individual potential was. In many of the interviews that I heard after the election I heard in the voices of people, especially African-Americans, a new dawning of self-respect and potential in their lives. There was the sense that they didn't need to wait any more for someone else, some other future savior, to bring justice. They had awakened to the possibility of hope, of their own potential that they hadn't seen before and may have thought themselves incapable of.

I believe we experienced the birth of a moment of personal and collective responsibility for what will happen in the country. I saw the end of victimization as a way of life. His slogan "Yes We Can," borrowed from the Hispanic motto "Si se puede," has become the watchword of a newly empowered electorate.

I recognize in this moment a parallel to something that I've seen in people who are recovering from mental disorders. It is one of the stages of recovery called: self-responsibility. Here is how it is described by the psychiatrist Mark Ragins:

I think most of these words can apply to any people who are learning that they can be responsible for themselves, and make their own lives. They might also refer to society itself that is recovering from a racist past.

In the mid 1800's Unitarian minister and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay entitled: Self-Reliance with the theme: "Be yourself. Trust your own inner voice." It urges readers to trust in their own inner voice rather than automatically following popular opinion when making a decision - even if they are denounced for doing so. These ideas were revolutionary at the time, and speaking them was controversial. In fact, when Emerson gave his Divinity School Address in 1838 with many of these same themes, there was a furor that lasted for 2 years and he wasn't invited back to Harvard's Divinity School until 1866 when he was given an honorary doctorate. I guess Harvard Divinity School had learned the error if its ways!

Much can be said for Emerson's point of view. At that time, recognizing that a person could make a personal search for what was true without necessity of Jesus or a church as an intermediary, was downright heresy. This idea resonates with that expressed in Paulo Coelho's book The Alchemist in which he talks of each person having a Personal Legend which he or she needs to discover and live out. Here are some quotes from Coelho's book:

I deeply believe the truth of these statements, and have seen it work in my own life. Yet it isn't the whole truth.

Coelho also has these important things to say in The Alchemist:

These words suggest that as important as our Personal Legend might be, there is also an important component of the truth which involves collective participation and responsibility.

I see in Obama's moment that we have now gone beyond Emerson's notion of individual Self-Reliance to a place where we are not only self-reliant, but also realize that we have a communal accountability for the future. In this time, when we have the potential to get beyond:

We have the potential to come to:

Obama, a gifted orator, recognized the importance of the words of the Hopi elders. In fact he used them in his campaign along with words from Gandhi and from Cesar Chavez, and he was mocked for doing so. Here is a quote from one of his speeches:

"You see, the challenges we face will not be solved with one meeting in one night. It will not be resolved on even a Super Duper Tuesday. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. We are the hope of those boys who have so little, who've been told that they cannot have what they dream, that they cannot be what they imagine. Yes, they can."

I think that the beauty of all good slogans and metaphors are that they can be applied to many situations: to individual lives, to the life of a church or an organization, to the local community, to the nation and to the world. In any of these senses, it can be good to ponder what is it we are waiting for, what kind of change do we see in the world, what kind of change do we want in our lives, in our church, in our community. And in the answer, see that you as a person can play a part in that change, you are not powerless. Even the humblest contribution is important. In fact, the humblest is sometimes the most important. And, yes it is possible. Yes we can. As Paulo Coelho says, "No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it."

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke, in his 1903 book Letters to a Young Poet said, "... I would like to beg you dear sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

In today's reading from the Elders the Arizona Hopi Nation we heard some very profound questions that defy easy answers. And yet, they are questions that must be answered. Today, I propose that we take Rilke's advice and start to try to live these questions - live them in a sacred manner as the Hopi elders advise. I will pose each question and then pause for a time of reflection to meditate. Then, I'll tell you of a time when the question was important in my life. Maybe right now one or more of these questions will resonate for you in your life and be helpful to you in moving on.

Here are the questions:

It is our time to light the fires and sing the songs and dream the dreams. What light will we bring to the world?

We are all the ushers into what our world will next become, in all aspects of our lives personally and collectively; at home, at church, in the community, in the country, in the world. And each and of us must visualize it, live in it, work for it, and build it. We are the ones that will make it happen. May we have the courage, the vision and the hope to do so.

And, as we start to live each of these questions, dream these dreams, and build our world, may we do so in a sacred manner and in celebration.

So be it. Amen.

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