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About Hope and Giving Thanks

UU Santa Fe, November 27, 2022

“A Blessing for Risk-Takers and Failures” written by Robin Tanner.

Today we share in a blessing for losers, risk-takers, all failures far and wide....

Blessed are they who fall in the mud, who jump with gusto and rip the pants, who skin the elbows, and bruise the ego, for they shall know the sweetness of risk.

Blessed are they who make giant mistakes, whose intentions are good but impact has injured, who know the hot sense of regret and ask for mercy, for their hearts will know the gift of forgiveness.

Blessed are they who have seen a D or an F or C or any letter less than perfect, who are painfully familiar with the red pen and the labels as "less than," for they know the wisdom in the imperfect.

Blessed are they who try again, who dust off, who wash up, who extend the wish for peace, who return to sites of failure, who are dogged in their pursuit, for they will discover the secret to dreams.

Blessed are they who refuse to listen to the naysayers, for their hearts will be houses for hope.

Blessed are they who see beyond the surface of another, for they will be able to delight in the gift of compassion.

Blessed are they who stop running the race to help a fellow traveler, who pick up the fallen, who stop for injured life, for they shall know the kindness of strangers.

Blessed are they who wildly, boldly abandon winning, for they shall know the path of justice.

When my son was seven years old, I had the capacity to be the summer vacation caregiver for four additional children from two families in our friendship group. One of the other children and my son AJ were sitting outside with me one afternoon and AJ said he was born in Minnesota. The friend looked at him and said that she had been born in Japan. AJ looked at her and responded with; “I always thought you looked Japanese.” Now she was a red-haired, blue-eyed little girl, but in that moment, since she had been born in Japan, to my son that was what a Japanese person must look like. It was truly the innocence of a child, and in the years since I have often wondered at how different the world would have been if our ancestors had been able to generate that kind of innocence toward other people’s identities and cultures?

What if…

Of course, we cannot go back.

Instead, we have spent our collective history trying to define what makes a “real American?” Accusations of who is or who isn’t a real American come from every side, and it often feels as if the only prevailing national opinion is that other Americans are the people who agree with us and everyone else fails to love this nation or the other people who live within it.

But the collective historical recollection this is based upon is nothing more than highlight reel of what happened at a specific time in a specific place, and that means it is profoundly limiting.

Even the history we think we know regarding colonization is only partially reflective of the truth.

If you Google 1776, the system will deliver hundreds of pages relating to the American Revolution. But other important moments were occurring. On September 17th, the Presidio de San Francisco was established as a military fort and the northernmost point of New Spain. On October 17th, Captain James Cook arrived in Cape Town, South Africa near the start of a voyage that would lead to the colonization of the island of Hawaii in 1778. In the United States, we have a collective memory of the end of colonization set in 1776, but the colonial period of world history was not yet complete even as this nation began fighting for independence from the English crown.

When we look too intently at one region, one nation, or one religious experience, we risk overlooking many other things that are equally important to t