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Awesome UU service earlier

The service at my local Unitarian Universalist church was pretty awesome earlier today. The two choral pieces of music were especially awesome; they were African polyrhythm, so each of the four singers (two men, one woman) played a different rhythm on their instrument, and sang different bits. I love this kind of music, and I was bobbing in my seat to the music. (Reminds me, I should look for more African music.)

Then, one of the ministers, a woman, told a story about a Masai man who won a scholarship to go to the United States to become a doctor, and how he was in New York City when the terrorists hit the twin towers. Now this man was, like most Masai these days, fiercely compassionate (but even more so than the norm for his people) and is a warrior for love and compassion. He went back to his village and told the story of what happened. The way the story was told, I could feel their wonderment and horror ("Buildings that touch the sky? Fire hot enough to melt iron? Smoke thick enough to blot out the sun?" is more or less an exact quote) He told the Elders what he wanted to do; he wanted them to bless his only cow before he gave it to the Americans as a gift. The whole tribe was so moved by the tragedy that they ended up giving America 14 cows. The diplomat who accepted them was taken a little aback by arriving at what he thought was a standard diplomatic trip, only to discover it was a huge ceremony with dancing and full formal dress (bright reds and other colors, full tribal raiment) specifically to address the tragedy. The herd being so blessed, can never be slaughtered. Several of the cows have calved, bringing the herd's number up to 35.

I learned a lot about the Masai today, how they gave up their feared warrior status to become equally fierce lovers and compassionate souls who herd cows for a living now. How their cows are sacred to them. Other things I can't remember the specifics of, too. It only served to fuel my interest in Africa, which I've had for years. When I was a kid, my favorite book was this slightly creepy book about shadows which mostly took place in Africa (I think it was an African fable). My Mom introduced me early on to African-style masks, many of which are delightfully creepy. I've had African tribal music on CD for years. And lately, this last year, I've been looking more and more into African pagan religions like Yoruba.

Later in the service, information that the horn of Africa is experiencing one of its worst ever droughts saddened me. The speaker said that the church was going to give half of the offering for that day to a charity dedicated to help Africans survive droughts and other bad conditions. Never before have I wanted so strongly to have some money to give to the offering, so I said a prayer. And I intend to write and post a prayer on LJ/DW on Africa's behalf; it will invoke all my deities, or at least as many as might be able to help.

I'm a little glad, though, that I gave up on my desire to be a Unitarian minister. That room gets so hot, with all those humans in there, that even in a sleeveless top and short skirt, I was boiling. The chief minister, a tall and thin man, was wearing the full black robe thingy and... I don't know the proper term for it, so I'll call it a scarf. He was wearing all that, and man, I saw him up close after the service... I didn't know human beings could sweat that much! O_O I'm surprised his robes weren't soaking wet. But I suppose he had something else on underneath, poor guy. (And under those hot lights, standing right next to the fire of the chalice, hoo boy.)

The sermon was okay, too. It was about 9/11, how it changed the country, and how Unitarians were resisting the growing fear-based hatred of Muslims even then, and still today. He mentioned that some were even walking Muslim children to school to make sure they got there safely, which I found touching. The sermon-giver was Rev. Sinkford, the tall man I mentioned, who is African American; apparently he's the head cheese there, the big kahuna. Anyway, he talked about how, coming home from a peace conference in some other country, he got pulled aside for "additional screening" and happened to see on the TSA agent's computer screen "Additional screening for African American males and [Arab-looking men]."

After the service, talked with Sinkford to ask if there was a Unitarian Universalist Pagans group in Portland, because last time someone told me to ask him about that, when I asked them. He directed me to the welcome table. The welcome table directed me to the visitor table, who had been the ones to mention Sinkford in the first place. Luckily, I ran across someone who recognized me and she volunteered to help me find out about any such group from one of the other ministers, a woman whose title is "Social Justice Minister." Lady who recognized me and helped me took down my email address so she could let me know. But the social justice minister may be on vacation, so it could be a week or two. And there may be no such group yet; if not, I'll have to start one.

Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org

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