In the Interim: Let us make a shield of love

Last week, flowers were bursting from the earth under a warm and welcoming sun. Today, as I write this, there is snow on the ground and patches of ice to be wary of. As you read, the world will look different again.  My heart is breaking for the people impacted by senseless violence, lives taken, disrupted, displaced.  I am also filled today with the energy and spirit of this community, as we gathered this morning in worship in great numbers to sing, pray, listen, share, to be with one another and to celebrate life. Becoming, as Rev. Arvid Straube said, whole human beings. Despite all the challenges we face, or maybe because of them, my faith in our collective power to change our world for the good, is renewed over and over by you.

I am moved to share with you this blog post from Valarie Kaur, Sikh Activist, civil rights lawyer and renowned speaker.

My loves,

I have been breathless watching the terror in Ukraine unfold. Russia’s invasion comes in the midst of nearly a decade of escalating tension, violence, and antagonization. Since 2014, at least 14,000 lives have been claimed as the result of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and persistent military presence.

To the people of Russia: We see you marching in the streets, risking arrest, bearing the cold, and holding your signs high: NO WAR. Your courage is a beacon. You show the world that Russia’s leadership is not Russia’s people. Only you have the power to stop this war at the source. Keep going!

To the people of Ukraine: We see you — waking to the sound of sirens, pulling your children from the windows, and preparing to protect all you love. We tremble with you, and wail with you. You are not alone. We are rising up in solidarity and sending you our prayers, our action, and our aid.

To the children of Ukraine: When I told my son about you, he wanted to send you our prayer Tati Vao Na Lagi. My grandfather sang this as a soldier in World War II. When German air raids came at night, he slept on the ground and imagined this Sikh prayer as his shield. So tonight, we closed our eyes and sang his prayer for you. We imagined a shimmering gold shield around your homes and your families and you. The prayer means: “The hot winds cannot touch you, you are shielded by Love.”

And so, I ask all of us:

What if we made a shield of love?

What if this was the moment an unprecedented number of people around the world stood against war? What if we shifted collective consciousness so that never again would any government win support to start a war? What if our voices and songs and actions flooded Russia and Ukraine now, bringing aid and courage and change?

We can choose to see no stranger — to see the people of Ukraine as our family, and the soldiers of Russia as lost ones who can be called home. We can let that sight shape how we grieve — and what we do. Each of us has a role.

Just remember, my love, we are tired and wired and stressed from pandemic and injustice. Now, war. So breathe and rest before you push, read and learn before you respond. Revolutionary love is not the sacrifice of an individual, but the practice of a community. Together, courage.

Love, Valerie.



Dear ones, let us make a shield of love.


Rev. Lara Cowtan


In the Interim