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