First Unitarian Universalist Church of Berks County

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The Way Wings Should

October 16, 2016
Rev. Sandra Fees

Reading: The Way Wings Should by Rumi

What will our children do in the morning?
Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play,
the way wings should?
Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered
the strength from the planets that all men and women need
to balance the wonderful charms of the earth
so that her power and beauty does not make us forget our own?
I know all about the ways of the heart – how it wants to be alive.
Love so needs to love

that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment.  But the sky’s mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you,
for I sing those words.
What will our children do in the morning
if they do not see us fly? 
The Masai tribe in Africa has a traditional greeting among warriors. They greet each other with the words: “And how are the children?” The traditional answer is: “All the children are well.” The well-being of children resides in the forefront of their consciousness, guiding a vision for life, daily decisions, and individual behavior.For Rumi, the well-being of children resides with adults who model how to fly – or how to falter. Rumi asks: What will our children do in the morning if they do not see us fly? 
The Masai and Rumi address their questions to all of us collectively, as communities, not merely as well as individuals. The community as a whole, the society, not just a child’s parents or extended family, is accountable for children. To speak of “our” children is not merely to speak of one’s own personal kin but to speak of all children who are part of the human family. 
I don’t have children but that doesn’t absolve me of this obligation, nor would I want it to. For those who do have children, concern is not limited to one’s own children. The Masai and Rumi point to a transcendent wisdom: All children are our children. This is what it means to affirm the interconnection of all existence in the web of life and to affirm the worth of all people. 
What we are witnessing in the public square is a failure to safeguard children’s hopes and aspirations. “All the children are not well.” The violent rhetoric as well as the violence, the disrespect, racism, sexism, and Islamophobia have dangerous, damaging consequences for all of us, but especially for children, especially for those who are most vulnerable.
In the broader world, famine, ethnic cleansing, the destructive effects of climate change, and terrorism are robbing children of the joys of rising in the morning to play, to savor life, and to dream of what they will do with their “one wild and precious life,” as poet Mary Oliver calls it. 
In the face of this, it is tempting to retreat, to despair. Communities are needed to hold out a healing vision – the vision of the kind of people we aspire to be, the kind of people we want all children to grow up to be, people who know how to forgive, to love, to create beauty, to work for justice, to be careful with words. 
Children are watching and noticing. They see and learn things even when adults don’t think they are looking. Parents, you know this well, right? I’m glad our youth are in the service this morning. You know this too, right? 
This faith community can and does have a major role and impact on children’s lives. In worship and religious education programs, children are being encouraged and mentored to solve problems and be critical thinkers. They learn about peace and tolerance for other people’s religions, cultures, and ideas. They practice kindness and compassion. They also learn from observing and participating in what we adults value and commit our time and energy to.
Our solidarity with mothers and children at the Berks Detention Center models a commitment to all children, and sends a strong message especially for those children whose human rights, dreams, and strength are being undermined. 
Our public declaration that Black Lives Matter insists on justice and equal rights for all children, especially children of color whose rights, dreams, and strength are being undermined. Our food pantry and Family Promise programs help to meet children’s basic needs. How can children possible survive and thrive if hungry or homeless. 
In December we have a giving tree for children whose parents are incarcerated, helping them to know they are loved and deserve beauty and fun in their lives. Our Interfaith efforts model appreciation for other traditions in the reality of a culture that is increasingly pluralistic in all ways and sadly often fearful of the other. 
Our community’s advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer rights promotes respect, love and self-love, and equal rights, and assure children they are beautiful and worthy not despite their sexual orientation or gender identity but because of who they are. 
This month, we are exploring what it means to be a community of healing. I encourage us all to reflect on the ways we as a church community take seriously the health and vitality of all children. I encourage us all to recommit ourselves to holding out and enacting a creative, loving, and hopeful way of being that will help us all to rise in the morning and spread our wings. 
Amen. Blessed be.