After I quit whining about not having much of a vacation during July, I realized that in reality I had gotten a valuable gift, even though it meant giving up something in return. In dealing with the inquiry of a sex offender, a troubled congregant who needed to talk about an issue, and the Knoxville tragedy, I had a chance to invest in the relationship between me and my congregation. That's never a bad thing and I know that it will serve me well, to have shown my commitment to them by being available for these difficult events.
This week has been full of sorrow for Unitarian Universalists across the continent and perhaps the world. Our safety has been challenged; we have been faced by the realization that our pristine principles are not so great in some folks' eyes. Some people would be willing to kill us for our beliefs.
I have struggled to write the sermon this week. It's not that there is nothing to say. It's more that I am uncomfortable wallowing in grief for too long a time. I want to get on with it, get on with doing something to make the grieving feel productive.
This afternoon I finished the sermon and I'm fairly pleased with it. It alludes to Knoxville, to the concerns some have had about our posting the "Torture is a Moral Issue" banner, and to the hope that the children of Knoxville exhibited at a Monday night vigil, by singing their closing song, "Tomorrow" from the musical Annie.
I am not a preacher who gets in people's faces much, but I am concerned that we do something to alleviate the pain of our returning soldiers, those who have seen and been asked to do terrible things in the name of the USA. We are sometimes, in our passion for peace, seen as anti-military and this can be problematic if we have military families in our congregations, which we do. We say we support our troops, but our actions don't always show it.
UUCWI may have an opportunity to show our support for our troops in a very real way. We have been invited to help set up a support system for returning vets struggling with PTSD. A young man loosely connected with our congregation is currently undergoing treatment for this condition after he had a violent outburst at a local festival recently. This may be our chance to put our money where our mouth is, if we can offer friendship and care to men and women who are in pain because of what their military duties have involved.
I'm very hopeful.