“Poetic Justice”

Here is an opportunity to reinforce our allegiance to the moral conviction of possibility. Our inspirational resources will include both published and in-house poetry and the words of Martin Luther King Jr. We have all been touched by the vivid commitment to a vision of possibilities in MLK’s infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. Who else will provide us with inspiration, clarity, and strength to journey in the world of “What if” and Why not”? Come travel with us. Our Anthem today is “The Work of Christmas,” music by Dan Forrest and words by Howard Thurman.

“The work of Christmas begins:…/To bring peace among people,/To make music in the heart.”

from Wikipedia:

Howard Thurman (1899 –1981) was an African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. As a prominent religious figure, he played a leading role in many social justice movements and organizations of the twentieth century. Thurman’s theology of radical nonviolence influenced and shaped a generation of civil rights activists, and he was a key mentor to leaders within the movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr.

[Dan Forrest] composes for ensembles across the spectrum of choral music. His background in academia and experience with professional choirs and orchestras allows him to write complex music that requires sophisticated performers, yet he also writes music accessible for amateur choirs.


Brattleboro-West Arts has become a fixture of our community’s vibrant art scene through exhibits, open studio events, public forums and creative workshops. This year, its members felt moved to share a positive message about the current political climate with the community. 

All Souls Church at The West Village Meeting House has also become a fixture in the community.  Known for our progressive Worship, welcoming community, and commitment to peace and justice, All Souls Church supports local artists by providing gallery space in which they can display their works.

During this service of Worship ASC will gratefully receive and dedicate the “Art Connects US” flag created by 14 BWA members in 2017.  The flag beautifully captures the aspirational aspect of the United States and will serve as a constant encouragement and reminder for us all to reach for those aspirations.

Based on the American flag, the “Art Connects US” mixed-media piece comprises 13 stripes and one rectangular field, each its own work of textile art by a BWA artist that gives voice to issues ranging from immigration to the environment to women’s rights. 

The artists intentionally created this piece in a positive light to encourage community building and inclusivity. These values are so central to the Unitarian Universalist Faith, when we were approached by BWA to permanently house the flag we jumped at the chance. 

The flag was carried by BWA members in the 2017 Strolling of the Heifers parade in Brattleboro. Then it was hung in the Brooks House Atrium for a time. It was also previously displayed in the window of Key Bank.  

In addition to Mitchell and Slowinski, the following artists contributed panels to the flag: Jackie Abrams, Julia Bacon, Marta Bernbaum, Kay Curtis, Lesley Heathcote, Karen Kamenetzky, Naomi Lindenfeld, Stephen Lloyd, Edith Mas, Kris McDermet, Sharon Myers and Jennifer Wiechers.

More information about the flag may be found in this Reformer article.

Below you will find the three readings from our service this Sunday:

The Veil/  A Slant of Light  by Ed Burke

     October 30, 2018

We wear the thin veil irredeemably,

by that I mean unknowingly –

the shades are with us always,

 in the glowing as well the gloaming. 

It is the slant of light that reveals the mystery, 

the passing sun allows the glimpse of what next

our eternal waits. The veil a thin mist, the voices

 that we may or may not hear,

may or may not remember,

and some would swear foretell 

if we are to be redeemed

when a thousand nights fall upon us 

each waking hour – fall across our brows, 

across our breath, upon our hearts, 

within our veins. Veins carry the voices

through the mist, whispering through the veil:

“We have been where you are, you carry us.

You hear, so you have been here also. 

You must remember.”


There are many who know what they carry,

who shouted  last Thursday they would not be erased

by our President’s dictates, our government’s policies,

who gathered to chant, to invoke the spirit that binds us

together against the thousand blows that fall upon us

each day and fitful hour, upon those singled out last week;

the transgendered who refuse to be erased,

 joined by those standing with them to swear, proclaim, 

howl that the night shall not swallow them, remove them

from the light and the living. Because the veil has lifted

and they see, we see, and refuse to be blind or blinded.


The veil, thin veined, the passing 

between this now and when before

the blood of memory, of synagogue slaughter,

in Pittsburg last Saturday. 

The thousand blows descending upon the brows

the hearts, the breaths of the living and the dead,

the night against which the redeemed, the redeemable,

or simply we, so many together, glimpsed the horror 

and bore witness to the light we hold, must hold

against the relentless dark. We gathered.

In the candles’ glow we mourned and vowed 

to hold longer the brief lifting of the veil, to receive

the message from those before us: “Remember.

Do not let the flame extinguish, never 

lose sight of what is and will be needed.”


We bathed in communal luminescence,

the wash of grief and resolute resistance.

We prayed. We parted, leaving loved ones

to return to loved ones, carrying the vision

 shared and sworn upon when the slant of light 

shone through, sacred.


Finding the Good in Every Experience  by Tom McGuire

I believe every human being has the potential to be an inherently good person, and every experience, no matter how onerous, can create an opportunity to learn and benefit from the pain. Otherwise whatever the pain is, it can too often color our existence as one of only pain.

Trump is pitiable for his deluded and fetid mind. To see something good in everything doesn’t necessarily mean we see, for instance, cancer or violence as inherently good, but if we try to find good in the way we react, or comport ourselves, good can arise from even this bout with Trump. This country is long past needing a very honest reckoning.

If we can imagine good coming from a deeper understanding of the depths to which racism and misogyny, and greed lead this country in an ever-deepening downward cycle of wars for profit, paralyzing school to prison cycles for black children, a burgeoning oligarchy that is supremely “successful” at siphoning huge wealth out of the lives of the poor and middle class, then perhaps we will be motivated to change our systems in response.

Positive change may arise out of the tragic events. Until then, too many of us do nothing to change and instead we waddle through box stores using subprime credit cards to buy needless shit and drive home in a $50K leased SUV they couldn’t afford to REALLY own, etc., etc., etc.

I know many people who have survived both serious illness and substance abuse, for example. Some soared to new levels of appreciation and enlightenment, and some ended up in a fetus position of despair. In this context, perhaps “see something good in everything” has a plausible meaning.


Miss Helen by David Cohen 

She was as if an ant  

A persistent pest  

Among rampaging elephants  

They were tall with tusks 

Totally in control  

Determined, they were  

That no one would pass  

Without a Government-issued pass.


“The rules” they roared  

And, she meekly at first 

Quietly, befitting her slight  

Stature, but no less determined  

Issued continuing dissents 

“Tis a free country” she said  

Free air to breathe  

To breathe free thoughts. 


“Subversive” others exclaimed

When she freely expressed  

Fresh thoughts of a nation 

Which could be reunited  

To use these wonderous resources

To build a common homeland

If, only if, the elephant

Bullies would mend their ways 

A small voice for the voiceless


Too Elegant to be crushed

Too courageous to be dissuaded

Ever raising, in a rising chorus

Of new born equanimity.

The ant stubbornly suddenly stood tall

On the hallowed grounds she staked

Creating a mood of national reconciliation.


Miracle of miracle

In her lifetime, a micro minute

On history’s elongated pages

She outlasted the elephants

Loved to see the day

When freedom’s sunshine shone

Shown on the southern tip

Of the southern half of the hemisphere.


To Mrs. Helen Suzman

Dr. Moshe’s wife

One of the “mothers”

Of the new born nation

Of South Africa