It’s “sharing our faith” month for the Women’s Poetry group
February is Sharing Our Faith month from the Canadian Unitarian Council, and our poetry group is celebrating by selecting poems by Canadian Unitarian Women. This one is a lot of fun to read aloud, which I did last Saturday!
THIRTY-THREE THREE-LINE STANZAS ON BEING A UNITARIAN
I am a Unitarian
Unitarians talk a lot
did I say that?
I might be a Universalist
or a Unitarian-Universalist
or a Universalist-Unitarian
this is not to be confused with
the United, the Unity,
or the Unification Churches
most Canadian Unitarians belong to the CUC,
the ICUU, IARF, PCC, and some the CLF
most probably listen to the CBC
like the UK Unitarians
we have believed in
Freedom, Reason, and Tolerance
like our US / U-U / UUA siblings
we accept seven principles
or is it eight? now?
we have six sources
or is it seven? now?
we are a Living Tradition
we Unitarians agree to differ
we believe in religion without dogma
we celebrate life
we come together because
we are enough alike to speak with each other
enough unlike to make it worthwhile
we are a mosaic
not a melting pot
does that sound familiar?
we might be mystics or humanists or both
or pantheists and/or panentheists
some of us are Christian, some Buddhist
some call themselves Jew-nitarians
we might be agnostics, maybe devout agnostics
who think about God a lot
but decide they can’t be sure
probably not casual agnostics
who don’t know
and don’t care
we might be theists, atheists or omnitheists—
I made that last one up, meaning
if there is a God s/he is the same for all folk
we don’t have all of the answers
but we do have many of the questions
to question is an answer
I believe that
as my first Unitarian brochure title read
Truth Can’t be Pickled!
and as Polonius
said to Laertes
This above all: to thine own self be true.
we might be inspired by Mahatma Gandhi
and Harry Potter
on the same page, that has happened
I believe—not by faith
but by good works alone
shall I be saved—if I shall be saved
I believe in people—people are worthwhile
people are basically good
except by accident not design
I don’t believe in angels, or, do I?
I cheer for the underdog
well, not always
I believe in nature
in “heaven on earth” only
let it be—keep it so
I believe in the environmental Rs
a religious experience
for some of us, worship
and the coffee hour is communion
some come to hone their consciences
some to heal their wounds
out of many different rooms…
we endeavour to
comfort the afflicted, and
sometimes, to afflict the comfortable
we are inclusive, not exclusive
our circle draws in all but those
who would exclude themselves
some of us are straight, some queer
we welcome all
trans-sexual, asexual too
I believe in love, love is god
god is love
love is the doctrine of this church
some of us call it church
I say sanctuary
we celebrate all the holidays, just in case
YES, I am a Unitarian
I used to say UN-itarian
now I say YOU-nitarian—
YOU may be
a Unitarian too
March 2006 version – about the author:
Franci Louann (nee Workman) is a Metro Vancouver Unitarian. Most of her stanzas are tercets; many of her poems are free-style tercets. This poetic credo is always a work-in-progress, much of it found in Unitarian conversations and liturgies, over decades, mostly in BC. Inquiries? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The January 2005 version was published as a CUC brochure. Please go to www.cuc.ca to learn the meanings of acronyms and abbreviations contained here.
(Published also in the Vancouver Unitarian Bulletin and at www.cuc.ca.)
Notes from Mary Bennett
Permission granted February 2023 to change the word “gay’ to “queer” and to publish on maryunitarian.wordpress.com.
Note,: Franci did not update because of the 8th principle discussions. Various ministers (and probably others) preached on the question: If there was an 8th principle, what would it be? “Beauty” was one sermon i recall at UCV.
So if there was to be an update, the line would be:
We have 8 principles. Or is it 9? now?
Some of the organizations mentioned, such as ICUU and PCC no longer exist, but you get the idea.
I’m fairly certain that a majority of Unitarians in Canada still listen to the CBC.
If you don’t know Franci (I’ve known her for 30 years!), you might enjoy getting to know this ebullient, proud-to-be-called-incorrigible (by Rev. Phillip Hewett), creative red-head. Here’s where to go:
Please join the Women’s Meditative Poetry group on Saturdays and Sundays 9-9:15 am (Pacific) to hear other poems by Canadian women, and during February a focus on Canadian Unitarian women. We pick a theme each week and show up on zoom to share a poem three times with silence and reflections in between. We rarely go even a minute over the ending time, and you’re welcome to be wearing your pyjamas and have coffee at hand.
contact UnitarianMary@gmail.com if you’d like to join us. We’ll add you to our email list where we send some of the poems out for those who didn’t attend.
Zoom link: https://tinyurl.com/womenspoetry
Chalica: Day 7 – the Interdependent Web
Principle #7: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Note: You may be wondering what happened to Principle 6? the one about world community? It’s the only one that currently isn’t represented in the draft of the UUA Article 2 so after thinking for a long time, it was best to just let it go and move on to #7. We all love #7. – Mary
Guest editor: Dave Steele
The 7th principle is very close to my heart. In part it’s because our lives, in fact, depend on it.
So, I’m taking the liberty to use this short guest essay as a call to action – as a plea for us to convert that deep respect that we have into ever more tangible actions. Perhaps in doing so, we can make a major life-saving difference in this world.
As a (now retired) scientist, specifically a yeast geneticist/molecular biologist, I am hyper-aware of the fundamental similarity of all life on Earth. We – all of us species – are related right down to the most basic mechanisms by which we function. Similarly, as a leader of an environmental organization, I am very aware of the powerful effects so very many of our actions can and do have on the larger scale, right up to the massive biosphere of which we are all a part.
In the early days of my career, I investigated the mechanisms and regulation of genetic recombination, and documented/attempted to understand a newly identified – and very much unexpected – driver of mutation and evolution. All of that early work was conducted in yeast but proved to be essentially fully applicable to us – very distant relatives to that yeast.
We – and all of life on Earth – are interconnected right down to the molecular level by a shared history that has very real implications in so many ways right up to this day.
On the macro scale, that reality is even more obvious. So much of what we do in our everyday lives has effects far wider than we might naively expect. We’re learning it in so many ways, some good and, unfortunately, some very much not good.
Focusing on the latter, the examples are multitudinous. Microplastic pollution is everywhere, our oceans are depleted of life to a surprising degree. On land, we so dominate this planet that wildlife is massively outnumbered and outweighed by our farmed animals. And, as we are ever more acutely aware, our planet is growing warmer and warmer.
Our use of fossil fuels, obviously, is an enormous part of this picture. It is the primary driver of global warming. But it’s not alone in that effect. Our food choices play a shockingly similar role. Indeed, animal agriculture is the second largest contributor to global warming. Worse, as the UN Environmental Program, in conjunction with Chatham House, has well documented, animal agriculture is also by far the primary driver of biodiversity loss.
We can’t allow this to go on.
So, I’m making this plea. Let’s put our respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we all are a part into action. Let’s drastically reduce our driving and flying in this world. Let’s keep our homes a little bit cooler. And let’s drastically reduce the degree to which we put animal products onto our plates. Our actions could accomplish so very much.
The future of this interdependent web of existence is so very much at stake – and that includes our human relatives and descendants yet to be.
David Steele is a member, since 2005, of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. He is also the president of Earthsave Canada. For lots more useful information, check out the Earthsave Canada blog.
Note from Mary. In the most recent e-newsletter from Katharine Hayhoe there’s a link to a quiz about how much you know about the link between your personal actions and the effect thereof. Dave will be happy to see that “eating a vegan diet” is one of the top things, whereas recycling, cutting down on buying new things etc. have a “small” effect. Still IMHO worth doing, but realize what the biggies are.
Here’s an excerpt from her newsletter:
Click here to take the personal carbon footprint quiz for FREE.
This interesting quiz was created by Sander van der Linden, a professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge. As Sander explains here, many people have misconceptions about what the most effective habits might be, due to disinformation, savvy marketing, and something called the “illusory truth” effect.
When I took the quiz, I was off on three of the items! Can you beat me? Give it a try yourself, then tell your friends to take the quiz, too.
(BTW I didn’t do well. I’d really hoped some of the things I do would at least have medium effect. Live and learn.)
Principle 5: RIP or Not Dead Yet?
I’m behind schedule in my Chalica postings and ironically democracy is to blame! I live in a housing co-op and we’ve had interviews and meetings and more meetings to choose new members.
Our 5th principle is:
We affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in our congregations and society at large.
Here’s a quotation from the uua.org website:
“In our religious lives, the democratic process requires trust in the development of each individual conscience—a belief that such development is possible for each of us, as well as a commitment to cultivate our own conscience. We could call it a commitment to the value of each person. In the words of Theodore Parker, ‘Democracy means not “I am as good as you are,” but “You are as good as I am.”’ My connection with the sacred is only as precious as my willingness to acknowledge the same connection in others.”
—Rev. Parisa Parsa, executive director of the Public Conversations Project (read more from Parisa in The Seven Principles in Word and Worship, ed. Ellen Brandenburg.)
If you’re following UUA politics, principle 5 (We affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in our congregations and society at large) doesn’t seem to have made it to the draft for Article II. Even before the draft was published, some people were so concerned that democracy was being threatened that they formed The Fifth Principle Project. This is their statement from fifthprincipleproject.org: The Fifth Principle Project is a grassroots initiative to gather into community Unitarian Universalists who want to reinvigorate the right of conscience and renew the democratic process in the governance of our denomination.
But googling “Unitarian Democracy 5th principle” brought up some excellent youtube videos, so affirming and promoting democracy seems to be an important principle to many.
This Democracy Revival from two years ago by the congregations in Illinois blew me away.
A few technical glitches but fabulous music and talks taking a variety of perspectives. So just ignore or fast forward through the accidental muting and screen share problems.
A recent sermon by Deacon (who knew we had Deacons?) Monica Pilman talks about the importance of “slow cooking in a fast food world”
And this one I particularly liked because they address the not-uncommon problem of finding that there aren’t enough people to step up to serve on the board, by trying something new: Sociocracy (a model I’m fond of myself.) Babs Garcia does a great job of giving bad news in a good way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXZKL5e5PrM&list=PLBRDNLHxRAz-80mizURGpf6HlGUMWfxor&index=4
I’ve put these into a youtube playlist here:
There’s much to consider about democracy being in a religious statement. As a friend of mine said, “I’m good with going with a 51 per cent vote. But I had to do a little spiritual development when I found myself in the 49%.”
And here’s a music link for you
Democracy is coming to the USA by Leonard Cohen
4. A Free and Responsible Search Among the Sources
Chalica Day 4
Our current set of principles says:
We affirm and promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
Wording in the UUA’s draft Article 2 that encompass some similar ideas include:
- We covenant to learn from one another and openly explore the depth and breadth of our many wisdoms.
- We embrace our differences and commonalities with love, curiosity, and respect.
Number 4 is probably my favorite principle, partly because some of the others I get encouragement and support for in other areas of my life. I’m part of environmental groups separate from my church and I have a button that says “I care about politics” – so I voted regularly long before I read Principle 5.
But where else am I affirmed in my free and responsible search for truth and meaning? Libraries, schools, universities? Well, kind of, but not that free, more focused. You have some choice but then you follow the reading list, study for the exams, work on a pre-approved project, or thesis if you’re at that level.
Many years ago I took a 30-hour course in Religious Education by Rev. Margaret (Peg) Gooding, who I believe was one of the first Ministers of Religious Education. She served in Ottawa for many years and produced curricula, especially on Universalism. The other students were all divinity students taking it for credit; I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity as I’d just started a very part-time role as DRE. One of the things she said which has always stayed with me, is that she thought the sources were at least as important as the principles, but they don’t get as much attention.
It resonated with me. I’m the kid who in Grade 7 social studies was very disappointed to find we wouldn’t be doing the chapter on world religions. But also Principle 4 and the list of Sources for me, at least, are linked. The sources lay out a map for where one might start a search. In the fall I had the chance to go to a Sikh Gurdwara, I attended a process relational theology course from a Christian, and am enrolled in a Buddhism study course of one of Pema Chodron’s books (Start Where You Are.) If you’ve been following this blog, you know I celebrated Hanukkah this year, too.
I think it’s fair to emphasize the “responsible” part of this principle, especially as it relates to learning about other spiritual traditions. I’m reading The Interfaith Alternative: Embracing Spiritual Diversity by Steven Greenebaum after discovering through a series of synchronicities a local Living Interfaith Sanctuary in Vancouver. https://livinginterfaithsanctuary.ca/
On Peg Gooding’s behalf I regret seeing the six sources reduced to a couple of sentences in the Article II draft. On the other hand, I’m glad to discover alternative ways to explore other sources/ traditions in a responsible manner with guidance.
At least one Unitarian Universalist congregation (probably more as I only discovered this by chance) has a minister who is an ordained Interfaith Minister not UUA-fellowshipped.
As another example of a movement away from individual exploration to congregational coherence, is the new curriculum Creating Theology Together.
This, I believe, is the newer version of the Building Your Own Theology curriculum which many old-timers (and not so old timers) have participated in.
Although my congregation is not a member of the UUA, changes will undoubtedly affect us, so I’m following the discussions with interest.
Chalica Day 3 – More questions than answers
Principle #3: We affirm and promote acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth
For Chalica Day 3, this is what I’ve been pondering, and invite your comments.
Is there a tension between “I love you just the way you are” (acceptance) and “encouragement to spiritual growth” (you could be better)? Might it suggest someone thinks they know the way in which we could (or should) grow?
As a sister growing up with two sisters, 6 and 8 years older than me, I know I can be hyper-sensitive to having others think they know what’s best for me. Although I benefited greatly from their playing school with me, which meant although I came from a home with very few books, I started Grade One able to read. A friend of mine once said to her husband, “Perhaps you could find these characteristics rather endearing.” I often think that even if I don’t say it aloud when people are “encouraging” me.
Here’s some of the new text: from UUA Article II draft
- We covenant to learn from one another and openly explore the depth and breadth of our many wisdoms. We embrace our differences and commonalities with love, curiosity, and respect.
- We covenant to collectively transform and grow spiritually and ethically.
- We covenant to freely share our faith, presence, and resources. Compassionate generosity connects us one to another in relationships of mutuality.
- Which of these proposed new statements do you feel are most similar to the ideas in the current Principle #3?
- Is there text in the new draft you like, or even like better than the current wording?
- If you could re-write Principle #3 – what would it say?
Just the Way You Are Lyrics
Don’t go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before, mm
And don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I take you just the way you are
Don’t go tryin’ some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair,
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care
I don’t want clever conversation
Never want to work that hard, mm
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are
Need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
Oh, what will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you?
I said, “I love you,” that’s forever
And this, I promise from the heart, mm
I couldn’t love you any better
I love you just the way you are
I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard, mm
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are, oh
Billy Joel, 1977
Images of 7-pointed Chalica Star from UU Congregation of South County in Rhode Island, shared by permission from Rev. Denis Letourneau Paul. Posted on the Chalica facebook group.
Chalica Day Two: Justice, equity and compassion
Guest editor: Teresa Morton
Affirm and promote
#2; Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
Potent words; justice, equity, and compassion! Each word could generate an essay unto itself. Is there any equity without justice? Is there any justice without equity? And where would we be without compassion? I’ve tussled with these questions for quite some time, and I’ve come to (at least) two conclusions.
No, equity cannot exist outside of justice. Just treatment by the community is necessary to promote equity. Think of the efforts to eliminate bullying; a critical factor is the balance of power for those being bullied. Without assurance that their voice will carry equal weight to the bully’s, they can’t fully participate.
Is there justice without equity? We have long thought that the law should be blind, in other words, everyone should receive the same treatment. We are moving – albeit slowly – to a version of the law that is informed by both equity and compassion. I am thinking of restorative justice and special courts for violence against women.
For my Principle #2 action, I’ve donated to RAVEN; ‘RAVEN Trust raises legal defence funds to assist Indigenous Peoples who enforce their rights and title to protect their traditional territories.’ I think it is a fitting affirmation of justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
I’m curious about your reactions to my musings, please let me know what you think!
(I am a member of the Beacon congregation and an adherent of the Vancouver congregation. I was raised in a Unitarian fellowship on Vancouver Island.)
Chalica Day 1
A day to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person
Wherein I come out as a cisgender, straight, white, elderly woman and an ally to white males, regardless of age, gender and sexual orientation.
Last year when the 8th principle “dialogue” was raging, (I use quotation marks because “dialogue” and “raging” aren’t usually compatible concepts) I only half-jokingly said to a straight, white male:
I’ve been an LGBTQ plus ally. I’m a skateboarder ally (my 2 sons and now grandson are skateboarders, and, really, they’re the nicest people.) I’m a vegan ally. I keep moving towards at least vegetarianism if not veganism, but although I’m not there yet I admire those who are living their values by eating only plant-based foods. So as an ally I bring a vegan dish to a potluck so that everyone might partake. It’s (literally) the least I can do.
“I never thought I was going to have to be an ally to straight, white males!” I said to some other members of my church a while ago.
But here I am. I feel a need to share that some of my best friends are cisgender, straight, white males.
As a mother of two sons (the skateboarders mentioned above), how can I not be?
As a second-wave feminist, I certainly have had my issues with the patriarchy. I don’t condone anyone taking up more than their fair share of the conversational space or thinking they can make decisions without authority and consultation. But I have to tell you that not all the people I’ve found difficult in this way were male.
My first program administrator job was at Vancouver’s YWCA where all of the directors were women. After a program department meeting I often felt frustrated feeling I hadn’t been heard or (I confess) not having my idea agreed to. But since there were no males present, I had to face the fact this was not because I was a woman. We were all women! All highly opinionated women if truth be told.
That said, respecting someone’s inherent worth and dignity does not mean allowing them to do whatever they want or ignoring behaviour that doesn’t respect others’ worth and dignity.
When BC was still part of the UUA’s Pacific North West District, I attended the Sunday service in Victoria at an annual conference. Rev. Marilyn Sewell, who can easily lapse into a Southern accent, as part of the Sunday sermon aimed at (mainly lay) congregational leaders, said:
“Some people. Sometimes. Need to be told, ‘No!’”
A spontaneous cheer went up! If you know me well, you might have heard me quote her.
I’m big on boundaries. I’ve often felt others’ expectations have exceeded my willingness. I also notice at my church new, enthusiastic people sometimes join a committee or team and then get overextended, overwhelmed and sometimes leave the team, if not the congregation.
“Love” is being talked about a lot in UU circles these days. Here’s my favorite definition of love. I first encountered this in Scott Peck’s book in 1989, the year I made a new year’s resolution to “become spiritually developed”. (The same year I started attending a Unitarian Church).
“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
So we can respect someone’s inherent worth, even “love” them, AND also nurture our own or others’ spiritual growth.
Not an easy balance always to discern when to speak up and when to let it be.
PS I first “met” Marilynn Sewell as editor of Cries of the Spirit. The first poem “Unlearning to Not Speak” by Marge Piercy is one we often read as part of our Fire Communion. Indeed it was read yesterday at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. It’s a continuing journey.
Cries of the Spirit, (6″x9″, soft cover, 334 pages), Beacon Press, 2000
Brimming with the inspirational words and thoughts of our finest writers, Cries of the Spirit is a beautiful sourcebook of poetry and prose in praise of life and all that it entails. Here women’s voices fill the age-old silence about matters central to their experience, from menstruation, sexual intimacy, and childbirth to caretaking, household rituals, and death. These writings represent a healing vision of the sacred that emerges from the particular consciousness of women — a vision that partakes of the world of earth and flesh. Contributors include Denise Levertov, Jane Hirschfield, Mary Oliver, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Tess Gallagher, and Sharon Olds.
Read more about this anthology, other books, films and posts by Marilyn Sewell here:
Chalica starts Monday
I came across this series of members talking about our principles. Which principle would you choose to do a video on?
Chalica is a week-long celebration of our Unitarian Universalist Principles. The holiday first emerged in 2005 out of a wish to have a holiday organized around Unitarian Universalist values.
Chalica (usually) begins on the first Monday in December and lasts seven days.
NOTE: I’m proposing the option of starting with the new year. So here we go, ready or not.
Each day, a chalice is lit and the day is spent reflecting on the meaning of that day’s principle and doing a good deed that honours that principle. There is a Chalica Facebook page, blog, and many Chalica-themed videos on YouTube.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UU.Chalica
It was first proposed by Daylene Jones (then Marshall), a previous UCV’er, and then a South Fraser Unitarian. I checked with her and she says, yes, she was the one that first uttered the word in a young adult gathering.
Each day represents a different Principle. A chalice is lit and gift(s) can be made, bought, verbal, written, acts, shared/personal celebrations. One can have seven different chalices or one common chalice.
Monday: We light our chalice for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
– Give gift(s) to honour those you do not understand / agree with / like.
– a thank-you card celebrating difference
– words of forgiveness / apology
– a peace offering such as inviting someone to dinner
– help someone in need
Tuesday: We light our chalice for justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
– Give gift(s) to honour those in your local community that are less fortunate.
– spend time in a soup kitchen
– donate clothes to a worthy organization
– display kindness and care to those around you
– take part in a political demonstration at city hall
Wednesday: We light our chalice for acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
– Give gift(s) to honour fellow Unitarians and their spiritual journey.
– a chalice / book / hymnal
– extend words of peace or forgiveness to a fellow Unitarian with whom you may have hurt / not understood in the past
– offer / take part in an event at your church / with your congregation
– church potluck
Thursday: We light our chalice for a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
– Give gift(s) to honour another tradition, to honour education
– offer / take part in an event that celebrates another religion / tradition
– teach someone something you know and love
– learn something new from someone else
– give a book / read a book
Friday: We light our chalice for the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
– Give gift(s) to honour democracy
– help a political party
– write your government
– help a committee at church
– host a dinner / party to celebrate democracy
Saturday: We light our chalice for the goal of world peace, liberty and justice for all.
– Give gift(s) to honour our global community
– volunteer with an organization that has global influence
– write a letter for amnesty international
– help your social justice committee hold a fundraiser
– donate to a cause such as UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, etc.
Sunday: We light our chalice for respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
– Give gift(s) to our earth and/or its creatures
– start a compost
– recycle bottles and cans and donate the money to an environmental / animal aid society
– rescue an animal from a shelter
– hold an outdoor worship service (dress warm/bonfire)
Monday I’ll post a piece on Principle #1. If you’re using candles, a Red candle for Respect would be in order.
Tuesday I’ll post a piece from Teresa Morton of Beacon Unitarian Church. Day 7 I have lined up with David Steele.
The principles between would welcome a 200-500 word piece about why you think that principle is particularly important. Include a short bio and, if you wish, a link to a poem or reading, possibly from Singing the Living Tradition.
Comment below on how you plan to celebrate Chalica.
Are you resolving to do less or more?
It was a New Year’s resolution that first brought me to the Unitarian church 33 years ago. I was very involved with the “type community” as in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, leading team building workshops and coaching based on the psychological type approach based on Jungian psychology. I’d decided to make a resolution for each of the 8 polarities, and when I got to “N” for “Intuitive” I decided to “become spiritually developed”. The opposite of N is S for sending and it’s all about material things, so I decided to have matching towels. A trip to Alberta for work in late January had me returning with a large number of blue towels bought on sale and no sales tax. Nailed that one!
The spiritually developed thing took a little longer. I started by re-reading books by Scott Peck. I liked his definition of love. One I will hold close as the focus on love seems to be flooding our congregations and denominational bodies. This is what I will mean when I use the word:
Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.
I found myself recently explaining to a friend about how I’d been gradually stepping back from leadership roles at my church and was now focused on the “harvest” stage. She asked me to explain what that meant for me.
Over 33 years I’ve learned a lot about Unitarian theology and history as well as other world religions. I will harvest the learnings, work with them, play with them, but not look for new curricula or workshops. I did Building Your Own Theology years ago. I don’t plan to enrol for Building Our Theology Together.
I’ve met a lot of people, welcomed a lot of visitors. If there was an award for the person who’s talked to the most number of visitors and newcomers, I’d at least be in the running. I resolve to harvest the rewards from those relationships. Deepen them. Maybe connect them up. I find myself not wanting or needing to be on the welcome team any more. I’ve been enjoying not just small, but tiny, groups. An average of 3 of us meet via zoom for the new moon. 4 or 5 once a month to do collage. A dozen for a monthly potluck and games night. For many years, if I was to start a group like these, I’d post on the church website and send our with the weekly announcements, but at this for harvest, not planting, I invite the people I already know. (I hope others are starting and sharing new initiatives. For me, it’s time to pass the flame.)
My family at my insistence each light a candle on Christmas day and share something that we’re grateful for. This was the year they admitted they enjoyed it. As my teenaged grandkids shared profound expressions of gratitude and self-awareness, I laughed when my time came. I said, I feel like the 3-year old that says, “I’m grateful I got so many new toys for Christmas.” I had decided to share gratitude for becoming a butterfly ranger and how it had drawn me into even a greater appreciation of the wonders of nature. As well as learning to identify many butterflies and plant native species to support butterflies, I’ve met some other ranger pals. Here’s a post I enjoyed reading and resonates with
My goals for 2023: from Pam, a Butterfly Ranger
- Instead of dieting: Practise body satisfaction.
- Instead of a workout regimen: Practise body satisfaction.
- Instead of striving for the dream job: Work as little as possible, sleep and read and walk and garden and sing and play piano and meditate and hang with friends and sit around as much as possible.
- Instead of focusing on self-improvement: Practise self-acceptance.
- Instead of getting tons of stuff done: Practise just being.
- Instead of getting all revved up and motivated: View motivation, goal-setting, etc., as inventions of capitalism to keep the labour force going past the point of exhaustion; try to stay unmotivated.
- In other words: Up yours, you stupid exploitative unsustainable-in-every-way effing North American culture.
My conclusion: Sometimes, it’s good to resolve to do less rather than more. (Thanks, Pam, for permission to share).
Are you resolving to do more or less? More or less the same? or More of something? Less of something else? Summer and winter “breaks” are times I take time to discern how things have gone and where I might like to shift where I invest my time and energy. If you do, as well, I’d enjoy hearing from you.
Hanukkah Sessions and Dreidels
Heard about the Hanukkah Sessions this morning on CBC. Recording new covers of songs by Jewish artists.
Here’s Day one for 2022:
161,055 views • Dec 18, 2022 • #HanukkahSessions #SpinningWheel #BloodSweatAndTearsA little blood and plenty of schvitz went into this year’s Hanukkah Sessions— but the only tears you’ll be shedding will be tears of nachas when you hear Judd Apatow sing “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat & (No) Tears!
More about Hanukkah Sessions here:
And so I learned another yiddish word: schvitz.
I learned how to play the dreidel game through youtube and played with my 5-year old Muslim neighbour.
I have 4 dreidels and a fair bit of Hanukkah gelt ready for my last day of Hanukkah/Boxing Day party.
Tonight’s word is loyalty. I am grateful to have many loyal friends.