Wednesday Messages from Rev. Brooks
Messages are prerecorded by Rev. Jaye Brooks, available at 2:00 PM and thereafter here, on the UUCSR YouTube channel and Facebook.
Perhaps the World Ends Here - Rev. Jaye Brooks offers today’s message, especially for the day before Thanksgiving: a poem by Joy Harjo, America’s Poet Laureate and a member of the Muskogee Nation. Harjo’s poem offers a moment of grace, of quietude. The poem invites us to consider all those times we’ve gathered with family and friends around a kitchen table. Moving, inspirational, and poignant, the poem starts with the sentence, “Life begins at a kitchen table” and ends with the poem's title, “Perhaps the world ends here”—as if these moments together around a table, sharing a meal, are the moments in life that we cherish and most want to remember. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory?
Rev. Jaye Brooks shares the poem “Gird Thyself.” In today’s message, UUA Director of Congregational Life Jessica York offers an interesting take on the role of hope during life’s difficult times. Her poem, “Gird Thyself,” invokes knights donning armor as they prepare to face their challenges. The inspirational message of this poem is that we can find tools—sometimes tools we know we have, sometimes tools we come across unexpectedly—that equip us to take our troubles and transform them.
Today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor the contribution and sacrifices of America’s service members. In today’s message, Rev. Jaye Brooks offers a moving and inspirational poem set during the liberations of Italy in World War II. By Jeremy Bruno, “Hands” tells of an American GI’s moment of connection with an elderly Italian woman whose hands he clasps—a woman whose last name is the same as his own. War is hell, and veterans know it, but there can also be moments of connection and deep purpose.
As a tumultuous election season draws to a close, today’s message offers a calming reminder that all people need and deserve what is good. Rev. Jaye Brooks shares this traditional Hindu prayer, which UU minister Rev. Abhi Janamanchi translated for the book Voices from the Margins: An Anthology of Meditations by Mark D. Morrison-Reed and Jacqui James.
"Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes
In today’s message, Rev. Jaye Brooks offers a less-often-presented poem by Black American poet Langston Hughes (1902–1967), “Theme for English B.” Langston Hughes was one of the central Black voices of the 20th century—and his poetry retains its vitality and immediacy today. In “Theme for English B,” Hughes takes us into the mind and experience of a young Black man who deftly asserts his perspective in a paper for his college English class.
Rev. Jaye Brooks offers as today’s message “Bless This Land” by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. These days, with the challenges facing so many Americans, this restorative poem rooted in Harjo’s Muskogee Nation heritage brings both hope and gratitude. We are the land. Bless us.
In today’s Message, Rev. Jaye Brooks offers the words of friend and colleague the Rev. Dr. Rebekah Savage, minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, Maryland. Despite the challenges we face daily, each of us can be a steward of hope. "We do have time. There is always today to do the right thing. To live out our faith. To practice courageous love. To remember and to remind that every breath and every act can be for the greater good."
One of the common experiences of life, especially during this time of pandemic, is the way that things can suddenly go wrong. In today’s message, Rev. Jaye Brooks offers the encouraging and hopeful poem “Reversals of Fortune“ by Rev. Theresa Soto, senior minister at the UU congregation of Oakland, California. The poem is from Rev. Soto’s 2019 book of meditations, Spilling the Light.
The Rev. Jaye Brooks shares "The Elephant" by Sufi Muslim poet, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. This poem tells a truth about perspective, offers a moral lesson, and is a great story.
In today’s message, Rev. Jaye Brooks shares the poem “Moonshine” from A Long Time Blooming by UU minister Marta I. Valentin. The poem is an invitation to come into the light of love and sacred inclusion—to cherish the glorious “polyrhythms” when every voice is heard.
Rosh Hashanah, which begins Friday, September 18, 2020, is the Jewish celebration of creation. Yet as we anticipate this celebration of life on Earth, wildfires burn unchecked on the West coast. In today’s Message, Rev. Jaye Brooks shares a Wendell Berry poem that invites us to assess humanity’s role in the damage to our planet’s climate, “Massachusetts Avenue at Rock Creek Park.”
Today’s message from Rev. Jaye Brooks is an excerpt called “Human” from a longer essay by Margaret Renkl. The entire essay was published on August 31, 2020 as an Op-Ed in the NY Times; it’s titled “Hawk. Lizard. Mole. Human.” Margaret Renkl, who contributes a weekly essay to the NY Times, is also the author of a book called Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss. Margaret often writes about the wildlife she sees around her and connects the natural world to her own life. In this essay, she reflects on what she sees in her own backyard—and encourages us to see ourselves in a different way.
"Poison Ivy," the poem, is from Love Like Thunder, a book of meditations by UU poet Jess Reynolds. Throughout the book there are poems that use a variety of images, genders, and activities to explore the idea of God. The picture that emerges is very different from stereotypical conceptions of God. In “Poison Ivy,” God is male—but not much else matches the stereotype. as poets often do, Jess Reynolds challenges us to reconsider our own ideas about God (no matter whether we believe in God or not).
Today's Message is in the form of music, excerpted from the July 5, 2020 virtual Worship Service presented by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock: "Answer Now To Life," Music by B. Elder; Lyrics by Rev. Jaye Brooks. Performed by the UUCSR Choir, Stephen Michael Smith, Music Director
Rev. Jaye Brooks offers as today’s Message, “My Heart Has Become Capable” by the 12th century Sufi poet Ibn Arabi. He lived in the Islamic city of Murcia, located in what is now Spain. Ibn Arabai was born in 1165 on the 17th day of Ramadam. This poem expresses his understanding of the way he grew spiritually and in understanding. It’s also an invocation to tolerance and love.
The Rev. Jaye Brooks shares with us a poem called A Riff, written by UU minister the Rev. Mark D. Morrison-Reed. It is from a meditation anthology by Mark D. Morrison-Reed and Jacqui James titled "Voices from the Margins."
The Universe sings to itself, wrote Rev. Brooks, in her poem "Calling." Rev. Jennifer Brooks (Rev. Jaye Brooks) is Developmental Minister at Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR), where she focuses on congregational areas that lie at the core of our collective being.
In times of trouble, we humans may feel as if our dreams are “mud-caked“ or that we’re about to fall on our knees in hot, sharp sand. Then comes “This Prayer is for You” with the blessing of a cool stream and a clean deep breath; a promise of singing in harmony with our own most needful songs. Rev. Jaye Brooks shares this poem by Jess Reynolds, from their book Love Like Thunder: Meditations. Jess is a Unitarian Universalist active in the UU Society of Sacramento, California.
During the pause in human activity during pandemic lockdown, the skies cleared and city streets lay empty and quiet. Pollution levels dropped. For the first time in human history, humanity’s harmful impact on our planet became visible simply by stark contrast.
In “Waters of Earth,” a paean to water, the source of all life on Earth, Rev. Jaye Brooks invites Earth’s human inhabitants to take up our role as part of the Earth’s power of renewal. “Our task is to love the Earth, but not merely to love it."
What do you do to demonstrate your love of the Earth?
Rev. Jaye Brooks reads this message, which is an excerpt from the Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. The passage, on “Stillness," is from his 2017 book The Art of Living. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that one of the best ways to still a restless mind is to listen to the rain.
Rev. Jaye Brooks wrote, "Independence Day reminds us of the Principles that form the idea of America: people are equal, their rights are inherent, and our government is created by the people to serve the people. These ideas resonate with our UU Principles: the inherent worth of every person; justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; the use of democratic process in our congregations and in the world. These Principles, clearly stated, carry with them an implicit promise that we will act together to make them live vibrantly in our national public life."
Read by Suzanne Viverito, Tina Manko, and Gary Mitchell. The words date back 500 years to the European roots of Unitarian and Universalist values, It combines the thoughts of 16th-century theologian Frances David, the text of one of the first religious freedom proclamations in human history, the 1568 Edict of Torda, and a traditional Hungarian house-blessing that traces back to the early Unitarians of Transylvania. These ideas shaped history. They became our Unitarian Universalist roots. When we use our reason to understand, when we find love in our hearts, when we open our minds to influences beyond what we now know, these roots anchor us—but they do not limit us. Instead they guide us to new ideas, new “revelations,” and new understandings of the issues of the day. Our roots run deep.
Rev. Jaye Brooks reads “Jazz People” by Black American poet Regie Gibson (http://www.regiegibson.com/) The poem is based on the stories he and his daughter Jamila made up when she was little and together they imagined people who chose to be music so they could live in harmony.
Regie Gibson's website describes him as a poet, songwriter, author, workshop facilitator, and educator, who has performed, taught, and lectured at schools, universities, theaters and various other venues on two continents and in seven countries including Havana Cuba. Regie and his work appear in the New Line Cinema film love jones, based largely on events in his life. The poem entitled "Brother to the Night (A Blues for Nina)" appears on the movie soundtrack and is performed by the film's star, Larenz Tate. Regie performed "Hey Nappyhead" in the film with world-renowned percussionist and composer Kahil El Zabar, composer of the score for The Lion King musical.
Kurt Vonnegut said, "Regie, when you perform, you are supersonic and in the stratosphere, where you can see that the Earth really is a ball, moist, blue-green. Regie, you sing and chant for all of us. Nobody gets left out."
The Rev. Jaye Brooks presented this poem by Rev. Angela Herrera following months of quarantine due to COVID-19, and weeks of unrest following the murder of George Floyd.
The Rev. Herrera is Senior Minister at First Unitarian Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.The Rev. Jaye Brooks is Developmental Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, in Manhasset, NY.
The Rev. Jennifer Brooks delivers brief and timely messages weekly on Wednesdays at 2:00 PM on uucsr.org/connect/messages, on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Also on Wednesdays, at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM, all are welcome to join Rev. Jaye in live conversation on Zoom at the twice weekly "Wednesday Conversations."