by Nikki GIovanni
once a snowflake fell
on my brow and i loved
it so much and i kissed
it and it was happy and called its cousins
and brothers and a web
of snow engulfed me then
i reached to love them all
and i squeezed them and they became
a spring rain and i stood perfectly
still and was a flower
Cherry Pickin’s – February 2024
Throughout the month of February, Westminster Church will be lifting up the theme of “Justice and Equity” as a spiritual touchstone. We’ll encounter this theme in Worship, in Connection Groups, in Religious Education, and in various other ways. I hope and trust that this focus will be enlightening and supportive during this transitional time for Westminster.
One important entry point to these considerations for me is the linkage between ‘spirituality’ and ‘power.’ These two words have a surplus of meaning – they can lead us in a great variety of directions. But, here’s how I understand their relationship to each other: Spirituality is the path to access and then exercise power.
I’ve settled into this definition of spirituality because I don’t think it’s a part-time activity, it’s not a practice we follow with more (or less) discipline in distinct parts of our days. Instead, it’s a way of life – it’s THE way of every life. For some, it’s quite secular. And, for others, it is equally concerned with faithful exploration, practice, and devotion.
And, I believe that ‘power’ is a trajectory, or a result, of these paths. It may be the power to raise a child well, or to companion a friend or parent through challenges. It may be the power to afford a simple home or to captain a multi-million dollar yacht. It may be the power to be entirely self-reliant, or the power to be vulnerable and communitarian.
My views about ‘power’ are shaped by the sociological critique of power – notably the differences between ‘power-over’ and ‘power-with.’ I’m similarly influenced by the various ways power is analyzed in liberation movements: how power serves as both a castle wall defending injustice, and also as a demanding battering ram for justice seekers. I’m as concerned with the ‘soft power’ of persuasion and trust as I am with the ‘hard power’ of brute force. And, I’m wary of the effects of all types of immature power: from its hidden, manipulative, and passive-aggressive use to public bullying and shaming.
But the bottom line reason for this definition, and this message, is that every soul is on a path toward engaging with power. And, my view is that the trajectory towards ‘power’ makes them more-or-less spiritual. It also means that Spirituality is a value-free term, that it’s a process rather than a destination.
And, the choice is before us this month, and always, to pursue our spiritual paths so that we support the exercise of power for Justice & Equity. In all aspects of our lives. I pray that Westminster will be a support for all of us in that work.
In Faith and Service,