Shame.  A heavy word with heavy connotations.  And, the theme of today’s sermon at the UUFC.  Combined with the grey, drizzly weather and the relentless reminders that we are near the climax of a grueling election season, I felt that this morning’s prelude needed a little lightness to combat the above conditions.  I selected “Riverside Walk” from an old favorite movie, “While You Were Sleeping”.  The film is full of gentle humor, happy family moments, and genuinely kind and likeable characters, and composer Randy Edelman scored the film with as much levity and sweetness as its plot holds.

“If the religious life is the process of aiming toward right relations, shame is the emotion which hampers that process every step of the way, in our relations to self, to others and to Life. Several guest speakers will share their perspectives on understanding the burdens of shame.”

I read the above description of today’s service earlier this week and quite frankly, felt stumped.  What music could I play that would reenforce this theme but also contribute spiritual meaning during the service?  Aerosmith’s “Shame, Shame, Shame” was the first song that came to mind, but clearly wasn’t right for today.  I decided to take my chances (an option that while a little stressful, is often worth the wait) and not select music until after hearing the readings and sermon during the service so I could get a feel for today’s message and hope for inspiration to strike.  My risk was rewarded, as with every moment of the readings, Time for All Ages, and Jill’s sermon, today’s theme because clearer and clearer.  Every single one of us, despite whatever confidence or success we try to project, hears little whispers inside that tell us we aren’t smart enough, we aren’t attractive enough, we aren’t good enough.  And the shame that these whispers cause prevents us from the right relations with ourselves and others that help us take care of ourselves and each other.  Everyone has worth and deserves love, and we can’t allow our shame to allow us to forget these truths.  “You are all beautiful.  I love you”, Jill proclaimed, and as she did, the perfect song presented itself.

Every day is so wonderful
Then suddenly, it’s hard to breathe
Now and then, I get insecure
From all the pain, I’m so ashamed

I am beautiful no matter what they say
Words can’t bring me down
I am beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can’t bring me down
So don’t you bring me down today

To all your friends you’re delirious
So consumed in all your doom
Trying hard to fill the emptiness
The pieces gone, left the puzzle undone
That’s the way it is

You are beautiful no matter what they say
Words can’t bring you down
You are beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can’t bring you down
So don’t you bring me down today…

No matter what we do
No matter what we say
We’re the song inside the tune
Full of beautiful mistakes

And everywhere we go
The sun will always shine
And tomorrow we might wake on the other side
All the other times

We are beautiful no matter what they say
Yes, words won’t bring us down
We are beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can’t bring us down
So don’t you bring me down today

As for today’s postlude, a double layer of meaning lies behind my playing “One More Step”, number 168 in Singing the Living Tradition.  Jill’s closing words encouraged us to “take steps” toward ignoring those little whispers and to remember that every person that we encounter should be valued and respected, and is worthy of love – including ourselves.  And, as some of you may have heard, our one-year-old daughter Natalie walked by herself for the first time last Thursday – so this postlude held a little extra meaning and a laugh for our family and friends!