The Low Road By Marge Piercy
What can they do to you? Whatever they want. They can set you up, they can bust you, they can break your fingers, they can burn your brain with electricity, blur you with drugs till you can’t walk, can’t remember, they can take your child, wall up your lover. They can do anything you can’t blame them from doing. How can you stop them? Alone, you can fight, you can refuse, you can take what revenge you can but they roll over you.
But two people fighting back to back can cut through a mob, a snake-dancing file can break a cordon, an army can meet an army.
Two people can keep each other sane, can give support, conviction, love, massage, hope, sex. Three people are a delegation, a committee, a wedge. With four you can play bridge and start an organization. With six you can rent a whole house, eat pie for dinner with no seconds, and hold a fund raising party. A dozen make a demonstration. A hundred fill a hall. A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter; ten thousand, power and your own paper; a hundred thousand, your own media; ten million, your own country.
It goes on one at a time, it starts when you care to act, it starts when you do it again after they said no, it starts when you say “We” and know who you mean, and each day you mean one more.
Marge Piercy’s poem, The Low Road speaks to the power of numbers, the strength of a collective, and the gifts of community. I’ve heard this poem read in worship at several different Unitarian Universalist churches. It always makes me smile and sparks a sense of greater potential than I usually imagine. The build up from being alone, to a pair of people, to a whole country incites energy in me. However, it is the final sentence that taps into the center of my Unitarian Universalist faith and ministry: It goes on one at a time, it starts when you care to act, it starts when you do it again after they said no, it starts when you say “We” and know who you mean, and each day you mean one more.
Some of you may be uncomfortable with the words “faith” and “ministry” while others are inspired by such terminology. I use those words deliberately because I believe that what happens in a church is different than what happens in organizations outside of a faith tradition. We are connected by common principles and sources and speak of a covenantal faith which calls us into a relationship with one another grounded in care, commitment, and courage. I use the word “ministry” as representing service which is grounded in something greater. For me, shared ministry lifts up the contributions of all of us as we aspire to create a world where we as individuals and as community ground ourselves in love and work for a vision of a more just and equitable world.
The theme for May is embodiment. What does it look like when we embody saying “we” and each day mean one more? By the end of this year we will have welcomed nine new members to the congregation and several devoted new “friends.” I have seen this church welcome them with open arms and glad hearts. When I speak of growth at MSUS this slow and steady influx of joyful and inquisitive seekers is what I imagine. I believe our faith calls us to grow and share that which gives us hope and meaning. This is how we will move into the future with old-timers and new comers side by side in the pews, in small groups, in song, and out in the world. May it be so.