Monday, October 3, 2011

A Different Tea Party

By Erik Resly
October 2, 2011

A lot of people are bearing their souls for justice. And my faith calls me to offer them sanctuary.

In the wake of mass arrests and disturbing footage out of New York, I grew concerned about how the Occupy Boston campers were holding up. More precisely: what was holding them up. We often forget how spiritually exhausting the call to protest can be. To stand in solidarity and speak out against exploitation is to open ourselves in vulnerability. It is to acknowledge the deep pain of the present and invest our whole selves in a desperate yearning for the yet unseen. No wonder every instance of injustice assumed cosmic proportions for the biblical prophets – their very humanity was at stake.

The voices I heard and the faces I met this evening testified to both excitement and exhaustion. People were angry, yet animated. People were hurting, yet hopeful. Gracefully companioned by other seminarians, I offered a ministry of presence, listening to the stories of the campers, letting them know that someone cared and that someone was praying. We poured tea and warmed hearts.

While listening to one soul explain how his Muslim faith compels him to work for economic equality, I witnessed another soul remove a blanket and cover a curled-up body that was sleeping in the corner. No one uttered a word. People were simply rehearsing the reality to which they aspire. How truly blessed. As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I live by the faith that the Holy calls all souls to a greater Life and holds all souls in a greater Love. I have to believe that the Holy was in that compassionate call to care and in the warming love that covered.

Bending the arc of the universe towards justice takes time, and great courage. Tactics remain unclear. Blueprints are far from finished. But I’m not sure that’s what this is really all about. The people I met were wounded, as are so many people around this country, and they seemed to know that healing lies in communities of reconciliation. Thankfully, some are responding to that call. Thankfully, they are not alone.

Erik Resly is a Unitarian Universalist minister in his last year of study at Harvard Divinity School. He grew up overseas and was confirmed in the Unitarische Freie Religionsgemeinde in Frankfurt, Germany. Currently, he co-edits the Journal of Comparative Theology and The Radical Spirit.


  1. Beautiful. Thank you!

  2. I'm curious to see where these protests lead and whether or not they will be able to change anything in the long run, but thank you for being there and for reporting back to us in such a moving way.