Is She Coming to You?

I met a woman here in Selma — a fine, strong, intelligent woman.  She’s savvy, and involved in racial justice, and politically conscious.  She’s a motivated, connected activist, and she’s in it for the long haul.

She’s also NOT a Unitarian Universalist.

She’d never heard of us before she was invited to this conference about Selma, this commemorative event that we dared to call “Marching in the Arc of Justice.”  Upon receiving the invitation, she thought she’d look up exactly who these Unitarian Universalists are. Continue reading

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Do You Love?

With whom are you in relationship?

This question lies at the heart of every successful justice movement, and the work cannot be done effectively or sustainably without an answer.

And, because of that relationship, what does love call you to do?

It’s not enough to reason your way to action, or to argue your way, and you can’t even Continue reading

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A First Look at Selma

So much has been happening over the past two days, I hardly know how to make sense of it for you, dear reader!  Volunteering here at the Living Legacy Project’s event in Birmingham (which can be live streamed here) has been a joy and a privilege, and with so much going on, it has also been a rigorous schedule to keep.

We started bright and early on Thursday morning, setting up the bookstall and registering new guests.  On the way into town with Monica, my local guide and volunteer-boss, a local columnist came on the radio, saying, “In Alabama, we have a long and illustrious history of defending our rights…often at the expense of the rights of others.”  In this particular case, John Archibald was alluding to the recent judicial altercations over same-sex marriage, but his words ring true across issues.

After lunch, we all piled into two big buses and headed for Selma, which is nearly 90 miles away.

Now, I was anticipating warm weather here in Alabama — at least, warmer than Minnesota!  However, as we hurried out the door, we had to brace ourselves against snow and sleet, which Continue reading

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Memorial of the Martyrs

Imagine yourself in a crowded sanctuary — not just crowded, packed.  Every pew filled, hip to hip, the balcony overflowing, the walls lined with those hardy souls who are willing to stand.  Even the front surrounding the pulpit is full of people — choir members, ensemble singers, accompanists, directors, esteemed speakers, even a couple men in suits who look like they might be bodyguards.  There are so many people that even the band is hidden amongst bodies, the drum set obscured, the guitarist just one among many.  Then add the television crews, the photographers, the journalists, gathered like a flock of birds at the far back near the doors.  The room is bursting with energy and anticipation.

It’s the anniversary memorial service for the martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement, fifty years after our honored friends were killed by the very violence they were protesting.  We are gathered at the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, a blend of faiths and faces, packed together and singing for all we’re worth.

There — filling the fourth row — is the entire extended family of Rev. James (Jim) Reeb.  And over there, gathered in a clump up front, is Continue reading

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Arriving in Birmingham

I write to you now from Birmingham, Alabama.  Far from the frigid snows of Minnesota, my first breath of Southern air made me think I’d landed at the aquarium rather than the airport — humid and warm!  Temps were in the seventies, the sun was shining mightily, and even the trees and shrubs were covered in the beginnings of pink and yellow blossoms.

But before my northern friends get too upset with me for boasting of the nice weather, I’ll add that as I write tonight, a cold rain is beating on my bedroom window — local schools are cancelled tomorrow for fear of ice as the temperature plummets.  I also saw on Facebook that some of my colleagues around the country have had their flights cancelled and won’t be able to make it to the conference at all.  So I’m feeling lucky that I made it here without a hassle.

During my layover in the Chicago-Midway airport, I began to hear a different sort of music in the voices of other passengers awaiting the boarding time — swapping stories , rambling from one tale to the next, these Continue reading

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A More Tender Journey

Dear reader,

I write to you on the eve of my departure — this time to Selma, Alabama.  I am volunteering for the next several days at the Unitarian Universalist Living Legacy event “Marching in the Arc of Justice,” commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “March on Selma” in 1965 (also known as “Bloody Sunday”).  The four-day conference will culminate with us joining Sunday’s march over the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.

It has been a while since you last heard from me, dear reader, and I’m realizing my online circles have expanded since then.  If you are new to following along on my travels, welcome.  I treat my justice trips as pilgrimages — journeys of the spirit and the heart, not just the body and mind.  This blog was started in 2010 as a way for Continue reading

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New Orleans: Windows into Justice


It is that time again, dear reader, when I begin to travel homeward. Of all my justice-related travels, this has been my shortest one so far — at only four days, I feel in some ways like I’ve just settled in and started to warm up to my subject matter; and in other ways, I’m ready to go home, hunker down to finish my degree, and find a church where I can put all this learning to good use!

This trip was also different from the others I’ve gone on because it wasn’t just a social justice immersion trip — it was also a training to teach people how to lead these sorts of trips themselves. There is no kind of learning as effective as the hands-on type, and so to learn how to lead immersion trips, we Continue reading

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