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The gift of being taught

We have heard again and again about the need for spiritual sustenance in this work. Two weeks ago, we launched bi-weekly messages for the foreseeable future that include a prayer, an ancestor and a song speaking to our spirits. We hope these resources may offer what we need in order to be, courageously, steadily, humbly, on the side of love. One ancestor to lean on, one prayer for our messy lives, and one song to strengthen and soothe.

ANCESTOR

“It was not at all unusual for us to receive phone calls at 3 in the morning warning us that if we did not leave the house within 15 minutes, a bomb would destroy our home,” Rev. Albert D’Orlando

Rev. Albert D’Orlando was a white Unitarian minister who served First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans from 1950-1981. In 1960, as New Orleans prepared to deal with court-ordered school desegregation, the Rev. D'Orlando had his congregation set up a Freedom Fund to provide legal and other assistance to those fighting for desegregation.

Also at his urging, the church's youth group participated in sit-ins at lunch counters on Canal Street, said his daughter, Lissa Dellinger. Two youngsters were arrested and charged with criminal anarchy; they were found guilty of criminal mischief and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Through the Rev. D'Orlando's leadership, the church raised money to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the convictions were thrown out, Dellinger said.

In 1962, the church paid some of the legal expenses of two Black students who filed a federal suit to integrate Tulane University. When Tulane officials agreed to admit the students, the church paid their registration fees and for their books.

Rev. D’Orlando was often targeted for his work. He was ordered to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. At midnight one Saturday in March 1965, his house was fire-bombed while he was working on a sermon he planned to deliver the next morning condemning similar bombings in Alabama. Two months later, the front of his church was destroyed by dynamite. The bombings were two of more than a dozen that occurred in New Orleans that spring. Authorities tied the bombing of his house to members of the United Klans of America, a wing of the Ku Klux Klan.

Learn more about Rev. D’Orlando’s ministry in the Tapestry of Faith curriculum Resistance and Transformation and from First Unitarian Universalist Church New Orleans.

Like Rev. Albert, may our moral center be steady under pressure. May those of us with privilege never be seduced by ease or comfort and instead choose integrity again and again. May we honor his wisdom and be worthy of his legacy.

PRAYER

For When I Really Don’t Want to Learn This - Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen

Spirit, I would really rather not learn this.

Didn’t think I needed to.

I thought someone else could do it. Thought a leader was coming to do it. Thought the young people could do it. Or the elders could do it. Or the professionals.

Or I don’t want to learn it cause it means letting go of something I hold dear.

Letting go of being someone who knows the answers.

Letting go of being someone who doesn’t know.

Letting go of the way I see the world.

Letting go of how I might have to change.

Letting go of certainty, of logic, of facts, of control.

Of the myth that you can live on this earth and not harm.

Or the myth that I can’t learn anything new.

Help me to learn it. Please.

And then help me to live what I have learned.

And do right by the gift of being taught.

This week’s prayer is part of a forthcoming collection of spiritual resources that accompany our Love Resists work against criminalization and for sanctuary for all. More soon at loveresists.org.

SONG

Beyoncé released a remix J Balvin and Willy William's Mi Gente last week, donating proceeds to support disaster relief in Mexico, Puerto Rico and affected Caribbean islands reminding us to love our people however we can. Take a listen and get a copy for yourself.

Thinking of you,

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Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen,  Ministry Associate for Youth and Young Adults of Color and Spiritual Sustenance Advisor, Standing on the Side of Love

Nora Rasman, Campaign Coordinator, Standing on the Side of Love