Standing On The Side Of Love In Statesboro, Georgia

Raft and Shore:  a poem commissioned for the UUFS building dedication, Jan. 24, 2016


“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”    John Augustus Shedd, 1859


Now that we’re here—

nails driven, paint dried—

what are we building?  What

will we, together, make of this gift,

this remade body shop, now

a stop for minds and hearts?


How, here, will we uphold the inherent

worth and dignity of all who enter and exit,

a round trip passage no person escapes?


These sunny walls and carpeted halls

will contain wedding cake and funeral food,

humor and heartache, as we marry and bury

our own and other refugees.


May we discover no gulf between “us” and

“them” as we share this raft and shore,

this home at the crossing of Bypass & Cypress Lake.


May this church serve as ship  and  safe harbor

for all who seek shelter from persecution or pain,

for all who seek expression of ideas, music, dance.

For this new home belongs to all of us and to none. Each

green chair and coffee cup is ours to occupy and release,

each yellow pansy and African violet ours to tend.


May this church minister as mercifully to the poorest

single mom, her toddlers and teens, as to the wealthiest

families; to the faithful friend who attends-without-joining

as to the tithing member who rarely shows his face; to the

preachers, committees, and choirs as to the

first-timers who find us late and duck out early.




Whether someone lands here for a day,

a year, or a lifetime, may we offer

sanctuary without sanctions — a place of refuge

and a set of oars. 


Here, let us rest and refuel

for the social and sacred work worth doing

in this beautiful, broken world. Let us name

what ails and what anchors us, what feeds us and

what leads us to feed Statesboro.


May we keep asking questions:

What is “worth” worth? How do we dig dignity?

When do we play games, and when do we plan

revolutions? Who will lend a hand, who will set the sail?


As we consecrate this place today, may we

rededicate ourselves—individually and collectively—

to being more peninsula than island, more boat than tank.   

And may we dare to rock the boat with mindful speech

and action, silence and song. May we march in coalition

with sisters and brothers from many faith traditions,

allies guided by the lighthouse of love.   


Here, we bow in gratitude to all.

We wear no halos or horns

only eyes and ears attuned

to the frequencies of love,

the voices of reason.

We row to the beat of justice and dignity

for all.


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