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Love Beyond God

Love Beyond God

Meditations

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This timely collection of poems explores faith, race, love, identity, and more, and invites us to think deeply about our place and role in contemporary society. The latest installment in the popular Skinner House inSpirit series.

Author: Adam Lawrence Dyer

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Powerful, poignant, and prophetic poems from one of the rising literary talents in Unitarian Universalism today. This timely collection explores faith, race, love, identity, and more, and invites us to think deeply about our place and role in contemporary society. The latest installment in the popular Skinner House inSpirit series (formerly the Meditation Manual series).

"Love Beyond God"

What if every time you woke
Your sigh was felt
By every being on Earth?

What if every time you spoke
Your words were heard
By every ear on Earth?

What if when you told a joke
You tickled the senses
Of every smile on Earth?

What if with each tender stroke
You shared your touch
With every hand on Earth?

What if when your heart broke
You tasted the tears
Running down every cheek on Earth?

No bond or brand or "guilted" yoke,
Surely this is love that reaches beyond,
That holds one to another
And every other to one.
No matter the color
Or where we're from.
This is now.
This is we.
This is Love.
This is God.
And this is love beyond God.

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In Love Beyond God: Meditations, Adam Lawrence Dyer invites readers to get to know a set of experiences that may be unfamiliar.

As an African American Unitarian Universalist leader and seminarian, Dyer speaks to audiences of people with different perspectives and different needs.

I'll start with my own location because that is what I know, even though white UU's need not be the central experience. We who are white in majority-white, justice-seeking congregations have our own work to do with internalized racism and unexamined privilege while simultaneously confronting larger systems of white supremacy and other forms of oppression. We cannot effectively and make positive change in the world without also dismantling our own racist assumptions. Some of that work involves relationship-building and perspective-taking. The poems in Love Beyond God are not "for" white readers tackling our own racism, but Dyer is generous for letting us know that they are available. "Part of the invitation in these pages, therefore, is to ask white people to spiritually invest in learning how to navigate non-whiteness by actually getting to know our experiences."

Dyer's audience also includes people of color in UU and other majority-white communities, people who are fully members of congregations and movements and schools and neighborhoods where their experiences may not be acknowledged or honored. He writes that he hopes to "serve as a great comfort to others who have longed to see words like these in print." He continues:

"Overall, the goal is to keep us all in community and to foster deeper understanding all around."

The poems cover a range of experiences and settings. Some of them invite poetic perspective-taking from more than one angle within the same piece. They are layered and lyrical, while also being clear in their messages.

Racial Justice and the Black Lives Matter movement are constantly relevant in this day and age. The past few weeks, following the murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, these topics have been especially on the minds and hearts of many people in our communities. Dyer's poems have been comforting and appropriately challenging in these times. The Skinner House Books Tumblr featured his poem, "Healing", in one of their posts.

Another poem for congregations and activist communities to attend to at the moment is "Do #Black Lives Matter?" In this piece, he looks at some of the larger destructive forces, including blocked access to voting rights, a racist prison-industrial complex, and "the commercial circus."

One poem relevant to UU leaders is "Adrift In My Faith," in which Dyer calls forth the talents he has for surviving a hostile ocean. He remembers the ancestors who "manage to lift me above the waves to breathe the sweet sea air." It is a poem of triumph and hope, even though the journey through treacherous waters continues.

Another poem that UU leaders would benefit from hearing is "Salvation (Fourth Principle)." The poem acknowledges the power and heat of some of the symbols people bring from the religions of their upbringing or their environment. The free and responsible search for meaning in community is easier said than done. Dyer has offered words that call us forward in that search.

Some of the poems are sweet or nostalgic. There is sadness and longing. There is pride. There is beauty and beauty and beauty.

Readers who are unfamiliar with the perspectives and situations in Love Beyond God may need some extra time to process what they are reading. Listen. Sit with it. Find some people who share your identity and who are working for a just, spiritually abundant world to talk with about your response.

Usually, I read books of meditation and poetry with a utilitarian ear. "When might I use this in a worship service?" "When might the people I care for need me to share these words with them?" Love Beyond God forced me to suspend that frame of reference. These words are valuable simply because they are.

Lyn Cox, Interim Parish Minister at the UU Congregation of York, PA.
From her blog "Fire of Thought," July 15, 2016. Posted here with permission.

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by Lyn Cox
on 7/15/2016
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In Love Beyond God: Meditations, Adam Lawrence Dyer invites readers to get to know his "uniquely identified experiences," on the way to the goal of fostering deeper understanding and community. 

The poems "Adrift In My Faith" and "Salvation (Fourth Principle)" are especially important for UU leaders to hear. "Healing" and "Do #Black Lives Matter?" are important for human beings to hear. 
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