Message from Rev. Telos Whitfield
Every year everything I have ever learned in my lifetime leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation, whose meaning none of us will ever know. To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, let it go.
[“In Black Water Woods” by Mary Oliver from American Primitive, Back Bay Books, 1983.]
It is deeply challenging to hold and comprehend violence, and to face losses, one of the most difficult tasks for human beings. It is with a heavy heart that I write to you as we grieve the losses of nineteen children and two teachers in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. And we continue to hold the families of ten people killed in the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York. These tragedies have happened in recent days but they are part of a legacy of violence that needs our care and attention. This violence has touched all of us at a local level, in our neighborhoods, even within the walls of our own sanctuary….
For me, it has brought up deep feelings of grief and anger, frustration. Why, why does this level of violence continue to occur? How can we continue to let this happen as a country? What can we do as individuals and as a faith community, for these collective tragedies are felt by us all?
I send my prayers and energy of healing as often as I can throughout my neighborhood, across the country and around the world. I imagine the healing as a white blanket or shawl placed on the shoulders of loved ones as they grieve. I imagine the white shawl also laying across our earth, scorched by fires or damaged by human intervention.
Mary Oliver invites us to embrace who and what we love as if our lives depended upon it, and perhaps that is the heart of living. We do not know when one whom we love might die. These tragic shootings bring that reality to life in a stark way. They can bring a family, a community and strangers together through this common experience. We ask for healing. We remember the embracing arms of All Souls, our community that we can turn to when we are grieving from an individual or collective loss. And we ask for a lessening of the pain.
Healing does come but it is like any journey. There is a need for companions and the courage to share what we are experiencing that will lighten our burdens. We know that music is at the heart of our community – it lifts our spirits, reminding us to come home to ourselves and each other.
So to bring the Light into our days, we look to Friday June 10th when Emma’s Revolution will be blessing us with songs and music here at All Souls! And for the Summer Solstice on June 21st Daniel K. will be hosting a musical Singalong at All Souls as part of Make Music VT and World Music Day!
May we come together with our voices and lighten the load for us all. To Summer breezes and notes flowing through us!