Sunday February 12, 2017

Prelude: P!NK “Don’t Let me Get Me”

Welcome: “All That Lies Within You” by Angela Herrera

Consider this an invitation
To you.
With all your happiness
And all of your burdens,
Your hopes and regrets.
An invitation if you feel good today,
And an invitation if you do not,
If you are aching-
And there are so many ways to ache.

Whoever you are, however you are,
Wherever you are in your journey,
This is an invitation into peace.
Peace in your heart,
And peace in your heart,
And-with every breath
Peace in your heart.

Maybe your heart is heavy
Or hardened.
Maybe it’s troubled
And peace can take up residence
Only in a small corner,
Only on the edge,
With all that is going on in the world,
And in your life.
Ni modo. It doesn’t matter.

All that you need
For a deep and comforting peace to grow
Lies within you.
Once it is in your heart
Let it spread into your life,
Let it pour from your life into the world
And once it is in the world,
Let it shine upon all beings.

Song: Gathered Here

Chalice Lighting:  A Spark of Hope By Melanie Davis

If ever there were a time for a candle in the darkness,
this would be it.
Using a spark of hope,
kindle the flame of love,
ignite the light of peace,
and feed the flame of justice.

Song: The Principles Song (to the tune of Do Re Mi):

One, each person is important.
Two, be kind in all you do.
Three, we’re free to learn together.
Four, and search for what is true.
Five, all people have a voice.
Six, build a fair and peaceful world.
Seven, we care for Earth’s lifeboat.
That will bring us back to me and UU.

 Story for All Ages: Animated Short Film “Luna”

Offering and Response  (Unison)

For the gifts which we have received—and the gifts which we, ourselves, are—may we be truly grateful. Yet more than that, may we be committed to using these gifts to make a difference in the world: to increase love and justice; to decrease hatred and oppression; to expand beloved community; to share, and to keep sharing, as long as ever we can. Amen.

Reading: I KNOW SOMETIMES YOU WAKE UP FLATTENED! ” by Rev. Theresa I. Soto

I know sometimes you wake up flattened,”
And you think that no one does this”
But you. It’s not true. The storm of ”
Circumstance, rain, and chemicals in”
the brain, follows others too. And that”
voice, inside, quieter than flowers”
growing and much more persistent,”
tries to tell you that you are bad and you”
are wrong and you should shush whatever”
song you were about to try. And you feel”
heavy and somewhat sad or somewhat”
bland. I get it. But here’s what I need you”
to know. You are both imperfect and glorious.”
And this. This is more true than a one-sided story”
In which none of your shine is allowed to”
appear. And there are people who love”
you for more than just the things you do.”
They love the inside you. And even when”
it’s hard to shine your own live onto yourself”
I’m asking you to tend one spark. To hold it”
close and watch it with gentle curiosity. You”
are the gift. You are the goodness. It’s okay”
to sometimes lose your train of thought, your”
line of being fine. Relax and trust that the ”
persistence of the sadness is not more true,”
than all the rest of the story of you.”

Lesson: “Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?” by Rev. Marisol Caballero first delivered at First UU Austin on April 24, 2016

“Those of us who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, or who had kids or grandkids that did, remember the life lessons of Scooby Do: you can spend a ton of time freaked out, trembling in the arms of your dog or running in and out of the same doors in an endless hallway, but in the end, that which you were deathly afraid of is usually not at all what you perceived it to be. In fact, our fears rarely match up to reality. Or, in the case of Scooby Doo and crew, our fears are usually an old, balding, maniacal capitalist.

Then, we grow up and figure out that there is still so much we haven’t figured out; so much we aren’t the best at yet; so much more to be afraid of the gang in The Mystery Machine. In fact, I am not sure that any of us ever feel we’ve really gotten a hang of things at any stage of our lives. As soon as we’ve figured out how to be good at being unjaded, bright-eyed twenty-somethings, we are already heading into our thirties. As soon as we feel like we are settling into our thirties – getting better established in our careers or discovering a passion we weren’t aware of in our young adulthood – we look in the mirror to find a gray hair springing up on the top of our head, or losing hair on the top of our head and growing them in strange, uninvited places and we think, “I’m just getting started here! My years are flying by so quickly!” And it goes on and on like this in every stage… All of us, to some degree, are faking it. We are faking having this adulating thing figured out. New parents often think, “How in the world did anyone think I could be responsible for keeping this tiny, fragile person alive!?”

Often times, this sense of “faking it ’till we make it,” is a psychological phenomenon referred to as Impostor Syndrome. The term was coined in 1978 by psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. They described it as, “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” Those with Impostor Syndrome-esque thoughts, “are highly motivated to achieve,” yet, “live in fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as frauds.” With all of the pressures of perfectionism that many of us place on ourselves, we often feel like phonies and secretly, maybe even in the back of our minds, worry that we will be found out at some point and the ruse will be up. Psychologists and sociologists say that Impostor Syndrome has an increased probability the more we feel we are being watched. The greater our level of mastery in our talent or field, the more likely we are to doubt our right to deserving such a station. So, those who are in supervisory roles, excelling in their careers, or possess any amount of celebrity. In fact, Impostor Syndrome has great prevalence among celebrities. Albert Einstein, at the end of his life, told a close friend, ” …the exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” Maya Angelou, winner of three Grammy awards, a Pulitzer prize, a Tony award, and read an original poem at a presidential inauguration, once said, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” In a 2013 interview with Maria Hinojosa of NPR’s Latino USA fame, US Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor confessed, “I have been living in a state of lack of reality for the past 3 1/2 years.”

Last year, I got an email from the UUA, asking me if I would be interested in giving a talk at General Assembly in Portland. They were launching a series of talks that would be akin to TED Talks, but with themes with a large UU audience in mind. Apparently, they were only asking about a dozen or so “innovative leaders” within our movement to consider leading such a talk. I’ll be honest, my first thought was, “WOOHOOO!!!! What an honor!” But, within seconds, my second thought was, “Oh no! What, an honor!? Why me? Why and how on earth did my name get into anyone’s mouth as an innovative UU leader?!! What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said? What in the world am I going to talk about!?” I worked on a presentation informed by one of my favorite mujerista theologians (feminist theology from a Latina perspective), Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz. When the day came, I was shaking like a leaf on a tree as I looked out and saw members of this congregation, Meg was sitting right there, several folks I had known throughout various stages of my journey toward ministry, and a huge room of strangers expecting some unique idea. The stakes were high.

Then, editor of the UU World, Kenny Wiley, introduced me as if I were Prince himself, saying things like, “I have admired her for a long time… ” I thought, “Why?! I only know you extremely marginally through mutual friends. What in the world could you possibly know about me?” I shook through the whole presentation and was sure, at some points, that my knees would lock and I would pass out, on camera, in front of everyone. To be perfectly honest, though I know I have been super involved in the UU movement for most of my life and have worked really hard, I still have no idea why I was asked to do that talk. I’m not even sure how it went, though Meg and others told me that it went very well… but you never really know, right!? But, when observing facts, all I can say is that this year, I have been asked back to give another GA Talk! This time, Rev. Chris and I have been asked to co-lead a talk specifically on the subject of this month’s Spring Into Action focus: our church’s involvement in sanctuary. Thank goodness I’ll have Chris’ brilliance there to rely upon this time!

Now, hold on. Before you start ordering the catering for my pity party know that, like most who have impostor thoughts, I don’t always feel this way about myself and my accomplishments. I am only exposing my underbelly to normalize these emotions. Comedian, Tina Fey, is quoted as saying, “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh, God! They’re on to me! I’m a fraud!” One day, you can have on new shoes – that sometimes does it for me – and be super-confident and the next be completely tentative of each step.

Historically marginalized and presumed incompetent populations are more prone to experiencing a high degree of impostor syndrome, such as women, people of color, and first generation immigrants, and higher education graduates. Comedian, Sarah Silverman, refers to this mental battle against oneself as an aspect of the “vagina tax,” that society charges women. Women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) that continue to be largely an old boy’s club, are particularly vulnerable to feeling like a fraud. Studies show that although Impostor Syndrome certainly does affect many, if not most, of us, women are more likely to agonize over mistakes and failures, small and large, as view it as proof of their incompetence. Men, on the other hand, will not wrestle so much him self-blame. Women are more likely to view good fortune as some fluke or grand stroke of luck, while men will remember their accomplishments that made them worthy of such advancement. If a woman tries on clothing in her size that is ill-fitting, she will believe there to be some deficit in her body, where as a man is more likely to view it as a deficit in the clothing.

As is the case with women, people of color, and the poor, these self-deriding thoughts don’t come from outer space. They are messages that are fed to us from every direction from birth. It would be extremely difficult for even the most socially conscious, well-adapted member of such groups to not internalize some of these messages in some way, though Sotomayor asserts that, “the greatest obstacle people will experience in life is not discrimination (itself), it’s their own fear.”

Are thoughts of being an impostor always a bad thing? How do they serve us? How do they limit us? Well, for starters, a good measure of humility never hurt anyone. Feeling as if we have yet more to learn, more goals to reach, will keep us ever-striving and urge us against complacency and disinterest in healthy competition. Too much of this brand of self-doubt can be outright debilitating. It can keep us from fulfilling our dreams and potential; from realizing our passions.

Paraphrasing Mr. Rogers, Sarah Silverman reminds us that, “if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.” She says, “I always look at myself knowing that I will have a certain degree of cognitive distortion… so I put it on a bell curve. I kind of adjust what I’m seeing and know that it’s better than what I’m seeing, whether that’s true or not.” I think that a good rule of thumb when thoughts like this rise up is to think of your best friend – the person you admire the most in the world. If they were saying the things about themselves that you find yourself saying, what would you say to them? Would you stand for them ignoring their greatness?

One of my favorite bloggers, who goes by the name Awesomely Luvvie, has some pro-tips for vanquishing impostrous thoughts (see what I did there!?) She tries to remind herself that:

– I am not the best. I don’t have to be. I am enough. The idea of “best” is temporary. The person who wins a race won it once. The next race, they might no longer be the best. Are they at least in the top 3? Did they beat their own time from the last race? We can reach for being the best but thinking we’ve lost just because we didn’t win is the quickest way to psyche yourself out.

– I’ve worked my bootie off. At the minimum, that hard work has earned me a ticket in. Even if I am not the best, the fact that I KNOW that I work hard, then maybe that alone is enough to have me in that room. My grind got my foot in the door. I can at least give myself that.

– Knowing that there are subpar and mediocre people out there who still think they belong in the room that your EXCEPTIONAL bootie thinks you don’t deserve to be in. Trust and believe that there are people with far less skills than you, who cannot be swayed from thinking that the room should have been named after them. People who cannot hold a torch to you are out here crowning themselves. Never underestimate the power of confidence. If you believe you’re the dopest thing walking, you might convince people of the same, just because you’re so headstrong about it as a fact.

– Even if I happen to be in the room by accident, and by no doing of my own, I AM IN THAT ROOM. It is no longer an accident. How do I make it intentional and purposeful? Well, I better learn from the best then. I better walk away from that room inspired, with a resolve to be a more superior version of myself. So next time I AM in the room, I feel at home in it.

(“Hidden Divinity” story from Earth Care: World Folktales to Talk About, p. 93)

Let’s remember to never stop looking for that inner divinity within each and everyone of us.”

Song: This Little Light of Mine

Joys and Sorrows

If you woke this morning with a sorrow so heavy that you need the help of this community to carry it;
or if you woke with a joy so great that it simply must be shared, now is the time for you to speak.

For the joys and sorrows that haven’t been spoken, but which remain in the silent sanctuaries of our hearts.
These joys and griefs, spoken and unspoken, weave us together in the fabric of community.

Silent Meditation

Closing: Choose to Bless the World By Rebecca Parker

Your gifts—whatever you discover them to be—
can be used to bless or curse the world.

The mind’s power,
The strength of the hands,
The reaches of the heart,
The gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing, waiting

Any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
Bind up wounds,
Welcome the stranger,
Praise what is sacred,
Do the work of justice
Or offer love.

Any of these can draw down the prison door,
Hoard bread,
Abandon the poor,
Obscure what is holy,
Comply with injustice
Or withhold love.

You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?
Choose to bless the world.

The choice to bless the world is more than an act of will,
A moving forward into the world
With the intention to do good.

It is an act of recognition,
A confession of surprise,
A grateful acknowledgment
That in the midst of a broken world
Unspeakable beauty, grace and mystery abide.

There is an embrace of kindness
That encompasses all life, even yours.

And while there is injustice, anesthetization, or evil
There moves a holy disturbance,
A benevolent rage,
A revolutionary love,
Protesting, urging, insisting
That which is sacred will not be defiled.

Those who bless the world live their life
As a gesture of thanks
For this beauty
And this rage.

The choice to bless the world can take you into solitude
To search for the sources
of power and grace;
Native wisdom, healing, and liberation.

More, the choice will draw you into community,
The endeavor shared,
The heritage passed on,
The companionship of struggle,
The importance of keeping faith,

The life of ritual and praise,
The comfort of human friendship,
The company of earth
The chorus of life welcoming you.

None of us alone can save the world.
Together—that is another possibility, waiting.

Song: Go Now In Peace (3 times)
Go now in peace, go now in peace
May our love and care surround you
Everywhere, everywhere, you may go