At Prairie, we learn Unitarian Universalist spiritual practice through our worship, classes, small groups, and justice work. Most of our meetings begin with reading our Touchstones, developed from Quaker Parker Palmer’s Courage and Renewal work. Almost every summer we have a spiritual retreat at the beautiful Franciscan Center on the north side of Colorado Springs.

Touchstones

  • Come to the work with all of ourselves; be present as fully as possible
  • Extend and receive welcome
  • Believe that it’s possible to emerge refreshed, surprised, and less
  • burdened than when we came
  • There is always invitation, never invasion; always opportunity, never demand
  • No fixing, no advice giving, no correcting one another
  • When the going gets rough, turn to wonder
  • Create space for the spirit of joy, laughter and play
  • Speak your truth in ways that respect other peoples’ truth
  • Trust and learn from the silence
  • Observe confidentiality
  • Let the beauty we love be what we do

Present-Day Prophets

by Marchaé Grair, UUA director of outreach

I was listening to my favorite podcast, “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text,” and co-host Casper ter Kuile shared a powerful language reframe.

Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, ter Kuile refers to people who experience oppression as “prophetic” instead of “marginalized.” He said his friend uses this reframe because people on the edges of society have a fuller picture of both hardship and possibility than those whose experiences are always centered as normative.

It’s time for a spiritual realignment for folx who enter justice-oriented spaces as “allies.”

What if allies thought of justice work as a prophetic encounter where they are called to learn from those pushed to the edges of society? What if people believed they had to earn the title of ally by learning from the prophetic instead of taking space and talking down to people about injustices they’ve never experienced?

Prophets are not just things of the past — they still live among us, taking risk by chance or by choice. And in order to live prophetic lives, we must follow their lead.

Our justice work can’t just be in support of the margins; it has to be because of the margins. We must trust that we don’t know what we have not lived and that those who experience injustice are the only ones who should be telling us how to end it.

Tenets of Accompanying for Social Change

We commit to creating intentional community and relationships outside of white supremacy culture and being intentionally pancultural across all boundaries of race, class, privilege, abilities and gender identities with a commitment to stay for the long haul.

Because the liberation of everyone and everything is inherently interconnected, we commit ourselves to work across cultures, to learn to embrace conflict, discomfort and complexity; to de-center whiteness; to de-center binary thinking; to de-center ablest thinking; and to have an expectation of making mistakes.

  1. We are committed to creating a culture of appreciation, understanding that creation and creativity come out of respectful and trusting communities; we will take more time in setting goals of inclusivity and diversity.
  2. We will struggle together and apologize and take responsibility as a community.
  3. We will hold the value that the most affected by a decision will make the decision. We will let go of trying to give, help, teach, tell or fix, especially as part of white supremacy culture.
  4. We will unlearn our patterns of dominance such as taking charge, going first, jumping in without giving others an opportunity to speak, leading, rushing to decisions, either/or thinking, etc. We will practice creating listening space for all voices, welcome new ideas as a gift instead of as a challenge, and seek both/and thinking and solutions.
  5. When we are in pancultural community, we will assume we do not know what life and experiences are like for those from different cultures or with different identities than our own. We will listen more than we speak. We will understand that we have no right to comfort and will be open to one another’s pain. We will learn to articulate what’s at stake for ourselves, our families and communities unto the seventh generation.
  6. We will be willing to do more than listen and talk. We commit ourselves to action and to showing up outside our realms of comfort, materially, emotionally and physically.
  7. We will support the creation of diverse leadership and follow that leadership in disrupting the systems and structures of oppression.

Derived from academic and pastoral care resource on the topic along with interviews by Rev. Kelly Dignan with Dr. Vincent Harding, Staughton Lynd, Rev. John Fife, Rev. Dr. Thandeka, Rev. Julie Todd, PhD, and companions in the struggle and the resource article: White Supremacy Culture, Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, ChangeWork, 2001

Learn more about Prairie’s justice efforts. Justice Overview