“and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” Mosiah 18:8-9
I learned these words as a young Mormon. As an adult UU, I learned what they meant.
It’s been over a year now since I signed the membership book at my Unitarian Universalist church. A year of learning what it means to be in community. A year of hardship and struggles both personally and in the world. A year of learning what it is like to know that you are loved and that someone has got your back.
On the Wednesday after the elections, our ministers sent out a message that there would be a church community gathering that evening. We gather every Wednesday for dinner, worship, and other programming, but this Wednesday brought more people than usual as we gathered to share our pain and fears and hope.
Purple yarn. A single piece of yarn tied around my wrist. It was so simple, and it was probably more for the kids in the worship service than the adults, but I’m still wearing mine. The yarn that reminds me of that night and the things we shared. When I do take it off, it will find its home with a small collection of other sacred objects I carry with me daily.
Each time I feel it or look at it, I am reminded of those that fed me and held me.
I see the women and their young daughters that sat with me at dinner.
I hear the children (and a few adults) share their joys and sorrows in a weekly ritual (twice weekly if you’re a kid and go on Sunday and Wednesday) in a safe environment where their voices are heard. No one tells them they are wrong to feel that way. No one says that they should just focus on the good. We just listen.
I see B who tied the yarn around my wrist near the end of the worship service and then accepted one of my many travel packs of Kleenex as we waited for the next gathering to begin.
I feel the hand of S on my back as my quiet tears became uncontrollable sobs.
I hear E’s voice, strong and clear weaving beautiful harmonies into our music as I struggle just to get the words out. Her voice gives me strength.
I feel the hands that held mine during the prayer.
I feel the emptiness of my hand when one woman had to break the link to blow her nose.
I hear the gentle urgings of the young woman on the other side of her who wanted that hand back for the rest of the prayer, so I got her hand back too.
I feel the embraces of friends and complete strangers.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” Ephesians 2:19
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:35-40
I know I am not alone.
I know that I will never leave them alone.
I know that we are bound to each other.