Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

Being in the Here and Now is one of meditation’s techniques for calming the mind, centering it in the present moment and away from fears of the future or the past.

Of course, when there is clear danger in the present, the practice is less calming, though it can bring helpful focus for effective response. I find power in both the practice of centering on Here and Now, and in connecting with the past and the future.

At the Unitarian Universalist gathering of ministers this year, the minister who preached on behalf of those ministers who have served our religion for 50 years recalled what was happening in the world when he was ordained in 1968. The Rev. Olav Nieuwejaar’s refrain from his sweeping moral call to liberal faith in action was “that was 50 years ago, and here we are, 50 years later…”.

As he compared our work in 1968 to what we are facing here and now, I felt a strange mix of hope and grief seeing the similarities in the kaleidoscope of time. Rev. Nieuwejaar reflected back to the calls of his first year of ministry:

  • helping women find safe access to reproductive care;
  • realizing the long and painful war of the time was based on a lie;
  • responding to racism and public assassinations of black leaders;
  • and living with a president who lied to the American public and had possibly committed treason.

The sermon left me simultaneously stunned and hopeful. I remembered that history both repeats itself and is different with each turn of the wheel. I was left wondering: how will we respond in the here and now?

What will this iteration of self, this community, this generation do?

Lessons from the past can give wisdom to the present, so we might act in ways that are the most beautiful human, and together shape a better future.

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