I turned 50 myself a couple years ago, it’s not a bad age to be. Young enough to be strong and active, old enough to be aware and comfortable with myself. The center, poor ol’ thing; a little out of date, technologically lacking, and a bit dis-functional, and yet, I love it!
With all its flaws and weaknesses, when I think of my experience here at UUSF, up until I began working on this chancel, the part of this organization that made me think of UU was not this grand hall but the Center. While this Sanctuary says “church” to me, “god” maybe even, the center says classes, discussions, presentations and seminars. It is where I learned “The History of UU in America” on Wednesday evenings, Jewish Mysticism and Theology and “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time” on Sundays before Worship. It is where the Lay Chaplains meet, and where events of all kinds are held and meals are shared. These things that for me, and many of us, describe much of our UU experience. It represents for me urban community. People in the city, coming together.
Yet, while it’s important, space is more than a meeting hall. It is room necessary to live our lives, to create, to breathe.
Stuff closes in. Space pushes out.
We need space, all humans need it - which is why depriving human beings of it is punishment, why it can be cruel and traumatic.
Shortly after graduating from Air Force Pilot Training I, like all U.S. Air Force aircrews, went through “Survival Training.” In the course of this training, they confined me in a tiny little box, so small that when they pointed to it I thought it would be impossible for me to fit inside. It wasn’t. I probably wasn’t actually in there that long, but I was curled up so tight in the dark little cage, I don’t know whether I will ever quite uncompress from that small box.
When I think about children being confined in my name, for “our protection” I think back to this time. I realize that I was an adult, and an Air Force Officer. I was aware that it was training and I was in the hands of members of my own military. And yet the fear they created in me was quite real. The children currently detained by our government are not adults, they are not aware, or in training, or guaranteed that in a short while they will be released.
On this day of remembrance of a space which has been, and continues to be so important in our lives, may we remember and offer love and blessings to all those who do not have the benefit of such a blessed place.
To read more about the history of UUSF Church and Center, click here.