Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ten Ways to take Action Following the Tragedy in Knoxville

There are real things we can do in the real world that will make a real difference. Here are a few ways to start:

1) Wear a chalice--don't have one? Buy one!

2) Put a UU Bumper sticker on your car.

3) Buy or "find" a chalice and create an altar in your home.

4) Donate to the Knoxville Relief fund

5) Share your wishes for healing and your love on the Supporting Our Friends in Knoxville blog

6) Rehearse your "Elevator Speech" so that when someone asks you about your faith, you're ready!

7) Practice your fierce and abiding love by doing work that's a little outside what you would normally do....volunteer with a teen homeless center, Habitat for Humanity, Planned Parenthood or others.

8) Commit to that volunteer work in your local congregation that you'd been considering, but hesitant about. If you question your choice later, remember WHY you committed!

9) Speak about your faith openly, freely and proudly. How would it have been for so many people to have found this faith sooner in their journey? Invite friends to come to your church!

10) And the best way to move toward peace and healing in the face of tragedy; volunteer to work with the children or youth in your congregation. There is no better place to find hope for the future than hanging out with UU kids!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A breath

Finally, the deep ache is lifting. The vigil at East Shore Unitarian helped. Reading the first person accounts helped.

Eating soba noodles and tofu with my 11-year-old really helped.

And coming in as the ache ebbs? Hope.

That's all that matters.

How Did You Hear?



The prayer vigil I am going to tonight will be at a large church--no time for personal sharing I'm sure. And on Sunday I'll be leading the youth in a ritual of peace and remembrance. But I'm feeling a need to tell my story.

And I'd love to hear your story, too.

On Sunday I woke with the hymn "My Life Flows On in Endless Song" in my head. We were headed to our friends' house for a home based wedding. My sons were the DJs and had to arrive early, roll up rugs and set up a sound system. I was the food lady, and sliced hundreds of sandwich rolls and organized vats of mustard and mayonnaise.

We were there as the groom and all the groomsmen and bridesmaids dressed, we made lots of coffee and straightened ties. There were lots of smiles, goofiness. Then we all headed to a lovely simple Lutheran wedding at the neighborhood church. I'm Norwegian, so even though I'm a lifelong UU, it still felt like home.

Then a lovely low key party--all the usual suspects hanging out by the grill, the baby being passed from child to elder, smiling all the while in her shiny white shoes. A nice dance, a fun party.

We came home exhausted, and my 16-year-old son said to me "Did you hear about the people shot in the UU Church?"

What?

He'd had live internet at the party on the computer. He'd known for hours, but so wisely kept it from me until he knew I could fall apart.

And I did.

I went straight to uua.org, then to the links at the local paper. Two dead. More injured. A Kid's play. Hero, saint. Standing tall, tackling hard. Bloggers wondering, linking, processing.

I was mad. I sat at my computer with tears pouring down my face. How could this happen? How could anyone walk into a church committed to love and justice and open fire? How could any person born of a man and a woman with cells filled with star stuff do this?

My husband set a glass of wine down next to the keyboard, massaged my shoulders and kissed the top of my head. "I'm so sorry, honey. Anything I can do?"

My teens hovered, asked questions. The oldest is youth staff for GA, on his own computer he was hearing from people he knows around the country who were reeling from the loss. He heard that it was Elandria Williams' home church. We called back and forth bits from the news stories.

And I cried.

I just cried. I could hardly see.

We all pulled on pajamas, I soaked in a hot tub. Then just before we went to bed, we prayed on our knees together. We prayed our "thank you" prayer for our safety and the safety of our loved ones. And we prayed our "please" prayer for the dear ones who had suffered. And we promised to stand up and retaliate with a fierce love that fights hate and does not stand down.

A fierce love. How can I keep from singing? Even with tears, we keep on singing.

How did you hear?

Monday, July 28, 2008

After the after in Knoxville

It feels like I ran a marathon today. The grief is numbing. The anger has faded to an ache through all my muscles. Through my bones. Through my soul.

I think almost every minister in the Seattle area is gone. Today most were out of cell phone range, some even out of the country--I talked to lots of office staff, lots of us trying to figure out exactly what to do. I'm a DRE. I can't even invite people to our building because we don't have one. We had no vigil.

I feel so helpless.

Maybe it's taken me so deep because I work for my church. But something has become very clear for me. I don't just work for my church. I don't care that I'm on vacation. I am the DRE. This is a part of who I am. I can't take a break from it. I can step back, relax and let other people run things, but I can't take this sash off when we're in crisis. Nope.

So we'll join our neighbor churches in their vigils tomorrow. And on Sunday I'll have a great "story" about tragedy which will speak to us all. And I'll pull the youth together, and we'll offer a ritual and share our stories. And tomorrow my little note will go out to the congregation--no approval given, just me and the administrative assistant, because it feels like we're the only ones left right now.

Helpless.

Of course we're not really. We are standing on the side of love. But I kind of feel like I want to lie my tired bones down and rest for a bit.

Numb. And exhausted.

Fierce Love

Last night I knelt on the floor of my living room with my sons and asked them to pray with me. We offered our deep gratitude for the safety of our own loved ones and our grief for our greater UU family and our tragedy.

This will not scare us. We will not stand down. We will stand up and we will retaliate with fierce love for all beings. We will not allow fear to stop us.

And when I told my son that I was not going to allow the youth to be greeters because that seems to be the front line, he called me on it. "Why? Are our lives worth more than any one else's life?"

I want to scream "YES!".

But he's right. The answer really is we are all sacred. The spark of our soul and the holy miracle of every cell in our bodies are all deeply infused with inherent worth. We are all one.

I am not hiding my tears from my children, we lost something precious, we all lost someone precious. Our family is grieving.

We hold you all in our hearts, and we stand up together in fierce and abiding love.

How to Help Kids Cope

When I was a little girl I told my dad that if he weren't my father, then I'd want Mr. Rogers to be my daddy. I had an autographed picture of him on my bedroom door. This article from PBS Kids might be a resource for us in helping our kids deal with the horrible tragedy in our UU family right now.


During his lifetime, Fred Rogers reassuring way of helping families with difficult times, beginning with his response to Robert Kennedy's assassination. Over the years since then, there have, unfortunately, been other tragic events during which parents and educators turned to him for his calming and thoughtful insight. Fred Rogers' wisdom is timeless, and his messages continue to be valuable for children and the people who care for them, as we deal with the events of today's world.

In times of community or world-wide crisis, it's easy to assume that young children don't know what's going on. But one thing's for sure, children are very sensitive to how their parents feel. They're keenly aware of the expressions on their parents' faces and the tone of their voices. Children sense when their parents are really worried, whether they're watching the news or talking about it with others. No matter what children know about a crisis, it's especially scary for them to realize that their parents are scared.

WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF ME?

In times of crisis, children want to know, "Who will take care of me?" They're dependent on adults for their survival and security. They're naturally self-centered. They need to hear very clearly that their parents are doing all they can to take care of them and to keep them safe. They also need to know that people in the government, in their community and in the world, and other people they don't even know, are working hard to keep them safe, too.

HELPING CHILDREN FEEL MORE SECURE

Play is one of the important ways young children have of dealing with their concerns. But, even playing about the news can be scary and sometimes unsafe. So adults need to be nearby to redirect that kind of play into nurturing themes, such as a hospital for the wounded or a pretend meal for emergency workers. When children are scared and anxious, they might become more dependent, clingy, and afraid to go to bed at night. Whining, aggressive behavior, or toilet accidents may be their way of asking for more comfort from the important adults in their lives. Little by little, as we adults around them become more confident, hopeful and secure, our children probably will, too.

SCARY, CONFUSING IMAGES

The way that news is presented on television can be quite confusing for a young child. The younger the children are, the more likely they are to be interested in the typical news scenes of close-up faces, particularly if the people are expressing strong feelings. When there's tragic news, the images on TV are most often much too graphic and too disturbing for young children.

LIMIT YOUR OWN TV VIEWING

It's easy to allow ourselves to get drawn into watching televised news of a crisis for hours and hours; however, exposing ourselves to so many tragedies can make us feel hopeless, insecure, and even depressed, feelings that even young children can sense. We help our children-and ourselves-if we're able to limit our own television viewing. Our children need us to spend time with them-away from the frightening images on the screen.

TALKING AND LISTENING

Even if we wanted to, it would be impossible to give our children all the reasons for such things as war, terrorists, abuse, murders, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. If they ask questions, our best answer may be to ask them, "What do you think happened?" If the answer is, "I don't know," then the simplest reply might be something like, "I'm sad about the news, and I'm worried. But I love you, and I'll take care of you."

If we don't let children know it's okay to feel sad and scared, they may try to hide those feelings or think something is wrong with them whenever they do feel that way. They certainly don't need details of what's making us sad or scared, but if we can help them accept their own feelings as natural and normal, their feelings will be much more manageable for them.

Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: "My mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world."

HELPFUL HINTS

  • Do your best to keep the television off, or at least limit how much your child sees of any news event.
  • Try to keep yourself calm. Your presence can help your child feel more secure.
  • Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing security. That closeness can nourish you, too.
  • Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on familiar patterns of everyday life.
  • Plan something that you and your child can enjoy together, like taking a walk or going on a picnic, having some quiet time together or doing something silly. It can help to know there are simple things in life that can help us feel better, both in good times and in bad.
  • Even if children don't mention what they've seen or heard in the news, it can help to ask what they think has happened. If parents don't bring up the subject, children can be left with their misinterpretations. You may be surprised at how much your child has heard from others.
  • Focus attention on the helpers, like the police, firemen, doctors, nurses, paramedics and volunteers. It's reassuring to know there are many caring people who are doing all they can to help in this world.
  • Let your child know if you're making a donation or going to a meeting, writing a letter or e-mail of support, or taking some other action. It can help children know that adults take many different active roles...and that we don't give in to helplessness in time of crisis.

©2005 Family Communications, Inc.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Walden pond.....gone!

OK, not the Walden pond, but my own little woods behind my house is gone. The green belt. The crick. The swamp. Probably the quiet little turtles and the nosy Flickers and the mouthy crows, too. And yes, probably those poor rats just trying to live out their scratchy lives and bothering all the humans, too.

"They" came and swept all the blackberry bushes and the brush and even the small trees away with one of those green-thing eaters. It made an awful noise. Like everything was crying out. "Don't!"

Whoever "they" are. I guess I know who "they" are.....The evil homeowners association biddies (who hate the rats) and their paid lackeys!

I met the new neighbor from two doors down today. She seems so nice and told me her saga about just trying to find out which trash hauler serves our area (the one with the logo on all our trash cans swears they don't serve this neighborhood) and when she asked me if I like living here, today I wanted to spit my sawdust choked spit on the well groomed sidewalk and say "HELL NO!"

I said, "I love the house." Maybe I'll see if she wants to come over with her nice sniffy dog named Lucky and split a bottle of wine, then I'll tell her the whole truth.

"Yes I love the house but the biddies took my woods!"

At least here in the Pacific Northwest, we all know....give it a few weeks.....it'll grow BACK! Hey, I think I'll go sprinkle some daisy seeds while the ground is fresh......

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stealth DRE

This morning I did something totally radical that I haven't done in years. Or at least I tried to. I went to church. You know, just went to church.

I parked way in the back of the parking lot at 9:55 for a 10am service. I snuck in through the side door and ducked into the bathroom because I could hear my friend and colleague, the DRE of Eastshore Unitarian church in the foyer. Then I snuck into the way back of the sanctuary and darn if I wasn't warmly greeted even in my seat by the wife of the Minister Emeritus! She was very sweet and promised to leave me undercover.

Then, my dear friend Barbara Cornell came and sat right down by me! Now the gig was up! Barbara was the one solid reason I survived my first year as a DRE, she was my mentor and friend and the goddess who told me that I somehow had gotten myself into the GRADUATE level year one of DRE work what with ALL the trouble we had that first year. This past year she was the student minister in my congregation; a heavenly place to have her, she was never for one second threatening to me. I understood why she wanted to work with the minister I serve with. Peg Morgan IS a goddess after all. Next year Barbara has a paid intern year at Bellingham UUF. Of COURSE she does, who would be better? I sure didn't expect her here across town from her house, but it was a real treasure to see her.

So we sat together through this fantastic service by Julia McKay, the Chaplain Resident at Evergreen Hospital. It was full of music and movement and rang through the soaring sanctuary filled with holy notes rising. Here was another example of leading a service with a guitar slung over your shoulder; I love doing that. We sang "Come, Come Whoever You Are" in parts. We sang "Meditation on Breathing". And then she broke us up into groups of four and had us create our own foundation, decoration and complementary music.

It was a holy moment of coincidence. I was with Barbara and two other lovely women and we created real music. Then Barbara with her lovely extroverted self and fantastic singing voice volunteered our group to share with the whole congregation, so now of course I was totally out as visiting a church on my Sunday off!

Oh well, who needs stealth when you've got a fantastic morning celebrating every sacred speck of dust in this amazing incarnation we know as the world? I guess not me. I guess not! I am SO glad I went.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

White Girl Goes to Camp.

Sometimes it’s a lonely existence for me in my family. Yes, I’m the mom and I get to keep my finger on everything from the laundry to lovelife to long division. But in my family I’m the only girl. My dog is a lovely old lady but she doesn’t really count.

I’m also the only white one. My husband is Korean and my kids are “Hapa”—a Hawaiian word that literally means “half” that the Asian community has claimed the way the GLBTQ community has claimed “queer”.

So, today is the Celebration Day at Korean Identity Development Society (KIDS) Camp; class presentations, big Korean food lunch and a drumming presentation. It’s funny, we moved to Seattle to be with families that look like us, and while we often see them or know them on swim teams or at school; here we’re the freaks of nature again. Almost all the parents are white, and seem to be quite a bit older than we are. If there are other KADs (Korean Adult Adoptees) they are usually married to Korean folks from Korea.

People always flinch when I tell them that my "adoptee" is 41. Not my child, my love.

And then they want to tell me their story about how they’re doing things right; they’re raising their adoptee just perfectly so that there will never be pain around race or an identity crisis.

Well, good. I hope they’re right, I hope that their child never has to experience the pain of questioning what it means to be Asian in a white society and I hope that they never have to stand by as the white one; part of the oppressive crushing majority that has caused so much pain to the person that they would give their life for.

I hope for them a happy life with rainbows and cotton candy. I hope these camps help. I hope knowing my dear husband and hearing his story helps these kids grow up and not have to live it.

And I hope that these parents never have to feel the pain of being the other that hurts their child.

My fingers are crossed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Trails!

Homeland security has reinforcements at the Hibbing-Chisolm Airport. Yes, they have the regular TSA agents, although here they’re all friendly and wildly helpful; so much so that they’ll re arrange your bin for you before it runs through the x-ray machine. And there are still gate agents, although they come out to the waiting room to find you if they need to change your seat assignment, you know, to balance the plane!

They’ll even take your picture in front of the back-up security personnel if you ask them to, and your friends can wait with you before you head over to go thru security.


When the plane comes within range they call out “Come on folks, they’re within range, time to go through security, make sure you take any bathroom stops before you head in the secure room—no bathrooms in there!”.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if every airport experience was like this? We’d all be happy travelers!

I’m off to fly home to Seattle, tomorrow is the big show day for KIDS Camp, my kids’ Korean Culture Camp presentation day. And man, do I feel cozy and warm knowing that fuzzy here is keeping me safe!

Happy Trails!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Open the Door!

Here I went, stepping right inside. And it sure is coming to the place where love and hope will and do abide.

This cabin week feels like home and family, even though this year none of the folks here are related to me by blood; they’re almost closer, I chose them and they just welcomed me in and said “It’s so good to be together again!”

But there’s been this other little thing, too. I had no idea that a few days of vacation would come with some professional coaching. The lady of the resort here has been in ministry for thirty years, and well, she gave me a great professional coaching session right down at the internet cafĂ© (you know, the picnic tables by the office where you can get wireless access!).

Rev. Diana sat me down and talked over our ministry to and with families. She’s had this long and winding path of ministry that took her from Michigan to this little town in Minnesota and now even to her own little congregation. The first thing she said is “Oh, with half time work the first thing you’ve got to figure out is where your ‘no’ is.” What are your boundaries? What can’t you do? That’s where you start. And yes, that creative spark takes you and you have to run with that. That’s your yes, you go on the creative run when it comes.

And she also had this great analogy of the trinity, and yes of course our roots go waaay back in Unitarian and Universalist history away from the trinity, but we’re pretty good at translation we UUs! The father is the content, the holy spirit is the relationships and the son is fun. I love that. You have to have all three to have a balanced and vibrant Religious Education ministry.

For example, say you have an RE teacher who is all about the content—lessons-lessons-lessons. Well, then class is going to be boring and attendance will drop off. And if you have someone leading who is all about the fun and the social parts of class, then it starts to feel less important and families will not value the time spent enough to make the effort to show up every Sunday. And if you have a leader who ignores the importance of the individual and group relationship, then your chance for connection is lost and again, it’s left feeling a little hollow.

Bless her heart she even referred to the “Jesus Freaks” (her words, not mine!) and how that’s out of balance!

And you know, she’s right, this is a great way to think about it, without the trinity maybe for me, or with the amended triad of spirit or you know, something like the theological house. And while of course I’ve probably heard a lot of this before, here by the lake and relaxed without all the detritus from regular life, man, it is really sinking in.

In so many way’s its so good to be together again.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vacation!

Vacation; all I ever wanted. Vacation; had to get away!

Come on, sing “Go Go’s” Karaoke with me!

Flying standby is always an interesting game, and that’s just what this is. Here I am, headed out on vacation and I’m just taking it all as it comes. My flight this morning had lots of folks just in from Hawaii who were booked on a later flight, that were standing by for what has looked for a week like a wide open flight. Hey, didn’t they know that I had a connection to make into Hibbing, Minnesota?!

No of course, it’s just a roll of the dice. And my roll came up OK—I was the very last person on the flight, we ran down the jet way, and the other non-rev wife I was with sat waaaay back in row 45, leaving me about row 17 because I had a tight connection to make. But of course, there was no space left in the overheads, even though NWA isn’t charging for bags yet, everyone carries on their luggage, right?

So, bump bump I went way back to stash my suitcase in the very last overhead bin. The sardine people all just looked at me with those blank looks we all have on a 7am flight, especially if we’re just off an all night flight from Hawaii.

My seat mate was a retired 747 Captain so we talked planes and the new 787 my husband is working. I tried to go fetch my bag during the flight and sneak it up closer, but honestly I couldn’t even remember where I’d stuffed it in the mad moments.

The captain announced as we approached Minneapolis that we’d had a gate change, F-14 which I recognize as the laaaast gate on that concourse. Sure enough, my pilot friend and I pull out the map of the airport in the back of the magazine, and yep. My gates are almost the farthest you can get apart in one airport. OK, I’m waiting on my holy spirit snatch—things turn out the way they turn out. And there was a little Meg Barnhouse “All Will Be Well” going on, too.

After two tries to get the jetway attached to our plane, much kindness from my fellow sardines and a nice skycap with a speedy cart and a timely tram, I was at my gate with a few minutes to spare. The speed-skycap driver tells me it was 2 ½ miles between my gates. Who knew that could even happen other than from Midway to O’Hare!!?

Well, I’m channeling the “Go Go’s”, flying on a little itty bitty plane over rural Northern Minnesota and soaring right along. Can’t wait to see the snails in the lake and some of my favorite people on the planet!

Vacation, here I come!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Class and the Country Club on the 4th of July

So somehow I accidentally joined a country club this summer. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm clinging to my working class roots like a kudzu vine, but somehow...yeah, it's a golf and country club. And I'm a member.

See, my two older sons were looking for a swim team. Not that kind of team with twice daily three-hour practices that steals your whole summer, but a summer league team that is just fun and friends and a good work out.

We found a good one, close to home, one hour practices and meets with THEMES! Like red-white-and blue meet! Yeay. When I went over to register and there was the sign right on the door with the rules about no jeans, and closed toe shoes and all, well I knew: Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.

And really, it's been fine. It's a chance to sort out my deeply held prejudices about class. At the PNWD AGM Professional Day this winter we had this fantastic day-long workshop about class. Let me just say that Cathy Cartwright from Portland First is a genius and I adore her. But what I realized in that workshop is that while I FEEL like I grew up in a working class family, really by the time I was a kid, my family was pretty well off in a lot of ways. My parents put in an in-ground pool when I was 12. We did go on some kind of vacation every year. There was some expectation that I would go to college. If you've done these workshops you remember the "sorting" kind of questions. Yeah, not working class-blue collar, anymore.

But, man, I still have those blue collar feelings! And even though my husband and I are comfortable (of course thanks much more to his job than mine!) I still sit at these meets at the country club in my little folding chair and watch kind of like a refugee might in a new land. Not quite sure what's going on, but watching all the time.

And so, during yesterday's Red-White and Blue extravaganza meet at a lovely outdoor pool on a lovely day, I got to thinking about class, and our country celebrating our Independence Day and being an American. And I thought about my "Expecting Congregation" ideas and what it means to be of one class or another coming into our congregation. Clearly, I'm not feeling very welcome in this country club world. Is that how people feel when they walk into our congregation--especially if they feel like we're all well off financially?

I think the worst mistake we make in our churches is to ignore class. It's like ignoring race or ignoring gender or sexual identity. We have so much shame about class in our country, because we're supposed to be the land of the free, home of the brave, where everyone and anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and opportunity is everywhere. But shame and ignoring it, don't make it go away.

It's as real as the restriction on denim at my country club.

MORE things to think about here on my month off! Oh well, it's good work, if you can get it! ***"Smiling sigh!"***

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Come on in, we're expecting you!

I took the month of July off, this month of July in fact. Last year was so full and exhausting that I knew by last August that I was going to need a span of time away from church so that I could keep on keepin' on in this beautiful ministry to and with children and youth. So we worked ahead to get summer all set, and leave me out of it!

Yeah, so I'm going in to work this Sunday, of course! But I'm happy to, it's a good plan.

And this thought of being an "Expecting Congregation" really has me. The idea came to me during Bill Sinkford's charge to the youth at the Synergy Service at GA. The thought that I want to go beyond being a welcoming congregation. (small "w" here), I want to be an expecting congregation. "Of course you're welcome here, we're EXPECTING you! Come on in!" Not an us welcoming you kind of thing, but the feeling that you already belong, we have the things around us that you need to feel safe, to feel at home, to feel that warm soft belonging feeling. (http://chalicespark.blogspot.com/search/label/Expecting%20Congregation)

It's a little funny, because I get this vision of our whole congregation being pregnant! But hey, that's really what I MEAN!! We're pregnant with the birth of this beloved community and its profound potential to transform our society! Expecting.

"Expecting Congregation" for youth though; what is that? And expecting congregation for children; how do we do this?

For youth I'm trying to set the expectation that youth are a part of all the workings of our church. Youth lay leaders, youth running the pod cast, youth greeters, youth on all the various committees--youth teaching classes in the Quest adult education ministry. Youth leading Multi Gen worship! Youth in covenant groups!

But they still need their youth group. And they're so busy. We expect so much of a plain old 16 year-old these days. I don't want to add pressure, just opportunities. And of course, I'm not the boss of anyone, these church leaders are going do what they think is right even with my expectations set at "expecting".

Ooo, that's kind of a bummer. Reality.

But I can bring my bushel of seeds of expecting and at least start planting.

Who needs a month off? I just needed a spiritual reflection month, oh yeah, and that amazing trip to bake me a while in Florida at GA!

Still to think on; children and their adults.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

GA, sparks family conversation


Being home again is just wonderful! I'm so happy to be in the lovely Pacific Northwest where 85 is a record high and the town pool is crowded even when it's overcast and 72.

It's funny though, I've been trying to bring home little bits of the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly to my family. Yesterday I played the Good Asian Drivers set from the Synergy Service for my husband and for the two kids who didn't come with me to GA. When we were watching it a second time, my youngest son said "I don't like feminists, I mean, it's not like all us men are monsters." (Melissa Li proudly proclaims herself a feminist, and if you listen closely you can probably hear my wolf whistle in agreement from the cheap seats!)

"Sometimes that's what it feels like to be white" is what I said without even thinking about it. Oops. Maybe that was too much. In my house I am the only woman and the only white person. Well, I have a girl dog, but I don't think that counts! My husband is Korean and my kids are biological so they're multi-racial. They call themselves Hapa (which some folks feel is itself cultural misappropriation from Hawaiian, it means literally "half") and are--all four of them, powerful, strong, and very proud Asian men (their favorite hangin' out Asian guy website-- http://www.angryasianman.com/angry.html).

My kids get asked "what are you?" by people who don't really get it (favorite answer...? yes), and "which of your parents is Asian" by people who do. They don't look like most of the kids at Korean community events, and they don't look like the folks at the Scandinavian bakery in Ballard. But this is part of the reason we moved here to Seattle from the very white midwest. Our kids do have a peer group of multi-racial kids in schools and on teams and just walking thru the zoo. Here, we're not the racial diversity on our block. We fit in.

I'm still awfully torn about the Anti-racism, anti-opression, multi cultural work that we do at GA with the youth. A few years ago I complained loudly to everyone who would listen, and just made a big mudhole of the situation. What I learned is that being white, I can't really speak to the AR/AO/MC work we do as UUs. It comes across as more denial by another white person. And maybe that is what it is. But when the youth break into Identity Groups, they caucus in two groups. One is the PoC or the Person of Color group. The other is the white group. I notice in a very outside-looking-in way of observing this group that some of the youth of a multi-racial background are "busy" during that session. My son caucused this year with the white group the one time he did attend although if you look at his myspace he identifies there as Korean American.

I wonder if we're serving our mixed race young folks well. Not to mention the able-ism, age-ism, classism anti- oppression work we aren't even whispering about! I know, I know. We only have a short, tiny time and so much to do. True true true. Race is a huge and important issue for us all to deal with. In my house we celebrate "Loving Day" http://lovingday.org/and are intentionally thankful that we can be legally married. The year we were born, it would have been illegal in a handful of states still--and we're Gen X-ers!

I guess I've come to think of it this way. If we were going to caucus by sexual orientation, we would not tell our youth "you have to choose, gay or straight, one or the other, or hey! Try one today and the other one tomorrow!" what about queer youth who are bi or multi-affectional? What about trans youth? It's un-thinkable! Isn't this the reason we use the word queer? It's a bigger word! A bigger meaning!

Maybe I'm just a clueless white woman, who doesn't get it. Could be. Could be.

And really, it's a small pokey pebble of annoyance in the giant sized happiness I am still feeling about GA and especially the youth programming. And hey, it helped my little curmudgeon of an eleven-year-old son understand a little of what his white mom sometimes feels in her house full of PoCs! It's our "Growing Edge" and yes, I really do hate that term, but sometimes, I guess, it fits.

GA, Michael's last day


When I was 16 I canoed across Ontario with five other young women. We were gone for a month. We wrapped a canoe around rocks in river rapid, we camped with four grown men, we were windbound for days and at the end, we had to portage our canoes down a cliff.

So you'd think I'd really have no problem sending my sixteen year old off for this week with minimal supervision from me or any adult I know at all. And well, I guess I didn't have a problem. I know my son and he's a good egg. A covenant is a big deal to us in our family. He was busy leading the 8am strategy session anyway!

But then he called me from Houston. He'd had a weather delay out of Ft Lauderdale and had missed his connecting flight to Seattle.

Sometimes I'm so glad I've had a lot of weird jobs in my previous life. I worked reservations for Northwest for two years. I know what to do here. And luckily we still work for an airline so I logged right into the NWA system and started pulling the information on the flights. And I got on the phone with Continental--the airline he was flying.

Yep, he was on standby for the next Continental flight to Seattle. And while yes, theoretically they could put him on a flight to Minneapolis where we have family and he wouldn't have to sleep in the airport and he could just non-rev home in the morning, the Minneapolis flights were way oversold. He had a confirmed spot on a 7am flight to Seattle--in first class even! And the best bet was to standby for the last Seattle flight out for the night.

I told him to go to the gate agent, plead his case and be extremely charming. There would be few seats and maybe more people than seats and the gate agent would get to chose who got on and who didn't. Here's where the power of nice comes in!

He got on. A few weeks ago I would have been deeply relieved that he made it home. This time I was a little sorry--it would have been a rockin' adventure to sleep in the airport and then fly out first class in the morning!