Hello my dear ones,
As we contemplate what it means to be a people of Integrity, I am drawn to one of this month’s Soul Matters spiritual exercises that asks us to “explore the connection between integrity and memory.” Instead of asking us to remember a specific value or life lesson, it asks us to remember all of who we are: “It’s a reminder that integrity is about finding and holding on to our wholeness.”
My wholeness, my identity, and so much of who I am is tied to where I am from and, more importantly, who I am from and how they loved me here, both in the past and the present. I learned to be a person of integrity by following my parents’ examples. As an adult, I discovered the importance of belonging to a larger community of integrity that values the the wholeness of each individual member. I have found this belonging in my chosen faith community, Unitarian Universalism.
The poet and author George Ella Lyon wrote an autobiographical poem entitled Where I’m From and invited people to use the poem as a template to write their own poems and share them in community to reveal the collective richness and wholeness that emerges from celebrating and accepting both our similarities and our differences. I have used that template many times to explore my sense of self and honor the experiences and people who have helped me “hold on to my wholeness.”
Now that I belong here at TUCW, I have written a Where I’m From poem that reflects my experiences in this community. I share it with you in love, and I invite you to consider writing your own Where I’m From poems. My poem is below, and the template is linked at the very bottom.
Where I’m From by Rev. Shelly Thompson
(Adapted from Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon with the author’s permission.)
I am from candle wax and the sulphur smell of blown out matches.
from no less than 8 choirs and from the grey hymnal.
I am from the Victor Lundy mid-century modern sanctuary whose architecture speaks about leaving space for wonder.
From the glass walls that reveal the forest all around us, our spiritual home
I am from the giant crooked oak tree that stands watch over the memorial garden on the top of the hill and the courtyard islands of shrubs and rocks that are perfect for the “don’t touch the lava” game.
I am from Homecoming and The Christmas Pageant
From Frank Hall and Denny Davidoff and Ed Thompson.
I am from hard-work and dedication and a schedule so full that each room and space has to be reserved in advance. Don’t forget to ask Diane first.
From Each person is important and Build a fair and peaceful world
I am from candles for Joys and Sorrows and Love is the Spirit of this church
From Inspire Connect Act and the direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder.
I’m from Transylvania, and Boston, Walden Pond and Fairfield County Connecticut.
I’m from Fellowship Blend Fair trade coffee and potlucks with vegetarian and vegan options. Soup sale Sundays and the “whatever people ate the day before” leftovers.
From the time the children performed the Peddler, and everyone gasped and laughed and watched in amazement as Megaphobus the 10 foot tall green Ogre came thumping up the aisle. It was all the more amazing because we knew it was young Paige in there somewhere.
I’m from memories stretching back over 70 years and telling it like it was back when
From our children lighting the chalice and reminding us to be kind.
I am from the keepsakes in the library and the photo wall of all the ministers.
From the blue bottle of gathered waters we use and re-blend every year
and from revelation is not sealed.
I’m from a people who build and grow beloved community within an ever-widening circle of love, compassion and justice.
I am from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport.
Where I’m From printable template