From Our Minister: The Mosaics of Our Lives

Springtime wall mosaic

If I had access to people who looked like me growing up, my life would have been so much easier. The suicide rates for trans and non-binary youth, especially trans and non-binary youth of color, are astronomical. And the reason they’re so high is because when you tell us we don’t exist, at some point we begin to believe you. And media representation is actually a visual argument to the world, [saying], “We’re here. We’re queer. We’re trans. We’re people of color. We’re gender non-conforming. 

Our lives matter.”

–Alok Vaid-Menon

Blossoming from the center of Love is this month’s theme of Pluralism in the newly proposed Unitarian Universalist Values. While diversity is the coexistence of difference, pluralism is engagement with all of the diversity. It is a good thing we are a diverse people who come from many different backgrounds, identities, and social locations! Our liberal tradition is also rooted in our unique heritage and it embraces many sources of inspiration, faith, and wisdom. We do still have room to extend our welcome and embrace to be better allies with vulnerable communities and in greater solidarity with diverse movements involved in the work of collective liberation in our society. 

Our commitment to the co-creation of Beloved Community in the world–which the 8th Principle Project of Unitarian Universalism defines as what “happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, abilities, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world”–is deeply connected to our pluralism. The newly proposed UU Value provides insight into how we are to actively engage with pluralism in our communities to support emergence and nurturing of beloved community. 

The proposed UU Value of Pluralism reads: “We celebrate that we are all sacred beings, diverse in culture, experience, and theology. We covenant to learn from one another in our free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We embrace our differences and commonalities with Love, curiosity, and respect.” We will have the opportunity to consider the adoption of the UU Value Statement by our national movement and the 8th Principle in our congregation later this year. In the meantime, let’s sit with these ripe possibilities as we too strive to “embrace our differences and commonalities with Love, curiosity, and respect.”

 Soul Matters theme-based ministry has provided us with these thought-provoking questions to stimulate the depth of our spiritual reflecting together in our Chalice Circles, worship services, religious education classes, and committee meetings: 

  1. What were you taught in your family of origin about pluralism and welcoming difference? How does that still impact you today?
  2. Has an experience of being included permanently left a mark on you?
  3. Whose refusal to conform made it possible for you to add your uniqueness to the diversity of the world?
  4. If you could go back and change a moment of being excluded or excluding someone else, what would it be?
  5. Have you ever been treated like a category rather than a person?
  6. If you weren’t afraid of being judged or rejected, what part of your diverse self would you let out into the world?
  7. What part of your pluralistic self do you have the hardest time acknowledging or embracing with compassion? Your judgmental self? Your lazy self? Your vulnerable self? Your bitter self? Your easily frightened self? Your quick-to-anger self? Your jealous self? Your petty self? Your selfish self?
  8. What aspect of your life partner, child or close friend do you need to do a better job of embracing and welcoming in?
  9. When it comes to age, our society is not as pluralistic as it thinks. Have you been ignored or cast out because of your age? Was it more emotionally challenging to accept than you expected?
  10. Is it possible that the aspect that so annoys you about that other person echoes a similar part of yourself you deny?
  11. It’s said that we exile the parts of ourselves that were once humiliated in our past. Which tender part of your younger self is whispering, “Please let me back in.”
  12. It’s said “Whoever is underrepresented in your life, will be overrepresented in your imagination.“ So who is underrepresented in your life? Are they overrepresented in your imagination?
  13. Most ongoing disagreements are sources of pain, division and discomfort. But ironically some disagreements feel “fruitful“ ;They somehow enrich us and our relationships. How has a precious “fruitful disagreement” changed you? Is there wisdom from this fruitful disagreement that could be applied to other areas of your life?
  14. Our friends and family each carry/believe/tell a different story about who we are. Whose version of you most closely matches your authentic self? Whose version do you disagree with most strongly? Whose version challenges you to be your best self? Whose do you hope to someday become?

If you are feeling in need of some extra care and support in this difficult time in our world and closer to home, our Pastoral Care Team is available to offer a listening ear and a loving heart in a confidential space. You can request spiritual companionship from one of our Pastoral Associates by emailing or by calling the church office. 

We would love to hear from you if you have a joy, sorrow, or milstone to share with the congregation in our weekly announcements and from the pulpit on a Sunday morning. Please email or call the office to share such news with our beloved community. 

I wish everyone a Happy Beltane, Mother’s Day, Jewish American Heritage Month, and Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month!

Yours in love and ministry, 


Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae
Developmental Minister