Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for the Feast

It was a pretty good night. We put together the ingredients for "Grandma's Stuffing"

It was so cool to pick herbs right from the garden for the feast!


The boys whe stayed home made pumpkin pie! The one who wasn't home might have made pie someplace else. Whatever....

We made a braid from the left over pie crust with cinnamon and sugar and butter. Yum.

But oh no. No little dogs in the roasting pan. Nope. Nope nope nope.

And the one thing that's for sure? No vegetarians are allowed to prep the turkey. No way. Uh huh.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow we'll have more than toast and popcorn for our feast. But our feeling of belonging and home will be just the same as if we'd gathered around a ping pong table.

This fall has been a hard one for me. I have to keep reminding myself that life is not a dismal dark thing. Life is full of hope and light and love. But sometimes.....well, sometimes we all forget, I guess.

Being grateful is at the core of remembering:

I am grateful for parents who taught me loving kindness and gave me a fierce sense of justice.

I am grateful for life long friends who love me even when I am a pitiful heap of jello. Green jello--like in a church supper in the basement of a small mid western church. With walnuts.

I am grateful for my sons who defy all reputation of teenage boys and offer compassion and sometimes even do the dishes and the laundry without being asked. Once is sometimes, right?

I am grateful for my little dog who loves to snuggle and for the life of my old dog who has been gone almost a year now--but lives a full and romping life in my heart, still.

I am grateful for a gathered community of brilliant, giving people who guide my children, both at church and school.

I am grateful for my partner who works tirelessly for our family, and thankful for his commitment to stepping into his identity and showing our sons how to do the same.

I am thankful for good work to do and families who keep having babies just so I get to hold them. Nice!

I am grateful for the hard times that remind me of balance, of the good times.

We sit in darkness so that we may appreciate the light. The deep kernel of life within a seed requires rest in the dark earth. True for people, too. We're often scared by the dark times. We try to medicate, exorcise, eradicate the darkness. We run from the darkness.

I think this time I'll just sit with it. And remember to be grateful for the dark times, too.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I learned a great phrase from Steve Caldwell recently: "Kill it before it dies". Steve was referring to "icebreaker" games or "energy break" games. It means stop while it's still full of energy and fun.

It's good advice.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Musical Medicine

So you think that the nasty flu going around takes away all sense of joy and hope, too? Nope, guess that's probably just November! It'll pass. It always does.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that my spiritual guide for all music for all times has been listening to my prayers. David Wilcox was in Seattle yesterday, but I didn't get to go see him. There is just no money for expensive fun things right now. But while moaning about how unfair life is and how I've been seeing David live for 20 years and I should get special "long term" passes to his shows, I discovered a new section on his website.

He lists a bunch of "conditions" in life and has a collections of songs that are just right for that place you've gotten yourself in. There is even a section called "Frustration with institutions of religion." Of course there are "songs for peace" and "hearbreak". All the songs are listed to the right and can be played, free of charge. There are a couple of songs that I remember from concerts that were never released.

Here in this list are all the touchstones of my life. "Burgandy Heart Shaped Medallion" that made me cry when Michael was born and I realized that I had a BOY and he might have to go to WAR someday. (just picked up the form to register for selective service btw) "Down Inside Myself" from that moment when you just know you were once happy and you are sure you can be again, but damn if you can remember how to get there--wait, I should go listen to that right now.

So sorry I had to miss David in concert. I think I should just get to go live next door to him and stop by for coffee and a jam and some great theological conversation. But if I had to miss him, at least I found his gift to me. And I get to share it with you, now, too.

Here's my favorite from the next to newest album:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Faith and Sexuality--and the weekend

I had a fabulous weekend. I spent the whole weekend...Friday night to Sunday, work, work, laugh! laugh!, work work work work, eat. Rest. Repeat!

It was the K-1 and 4-6 Our Whole Lives training. And it ROCKED!

What a treat to have Steve Caldwell from the Liberal Faith Development blog as a trainer. So much fun to spend the weekend with a fellow blogger, and a fine Religious Educator.

Now, my family and I are enjoying a lovely dinner, delivered to me today "care package style" by our wonderful student minister.

It was a great day, and a great training, and it all just leads to this great life.

My great life.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Busy, busy.

Latest agenda:

Recovering from illness. Lungs still hurt. Someone said it's pleurisy. What is that anyway?

Our Whole Lives; sexuality education facilitator training on Friday night, Saturday all day and Sunday almost all day.

The Interplanetary Galactic Awesome Service Auction and a stint as bartender at my church on Saturday night. Well, after running a friend home to his house because his ceiling was caving in and full of water. Rush rush rush.

And a soccer game for the middlest in Portland that I had to miss for the training. (but the good news? Gooooooaaaaaal!)

Finally, the SAT subject tests for the oldest. 7am-12 noon. Three tests. Thinks he aced the math and well did pretty OK on the Chemistry. Crossing fingers please!

Very cool news? The male trainer at my OWL training is a fellow blogger: Steve Caldwell. I knew him from the blogosphere. And **blush** he knew me!

It's a funny small world. And I love it. Just love it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

More on the Ft. Hood shootings and faith

Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core writes today on the shootings at Ft. Hood and the impact for Muslims in North America.

The Interfaith Youth Core is the organization that is partnering with the UUAs Tapestry of Faith Lifespan curriculum in creating an interfaith youth curriculum.

Also coming up soon is a FREE leadership training jointly presented by the Interfaith Youth Core and the Unitarian Universalist Association. It's the one thing we can really do--education. Maybe it can change the world.

The Church Office--Facebook

I'm working from my office today. No, not actually my church office. We share three little rooms in the windowless, horribly stuffy top floor of a Masonic Temple. I have a child size desk that everyone rifles through and loads up with all kinds of detritus from the services. It's not really an office.

My office is really a lap top and a few three ring binders. And facebook.

Yes, facebook. It's fabulous! I post a status message that says something like "Blergh, what the heck anyway?"

And sure enough, a few minutes later my friends holler over the cubicle wall "hang in there" "hugs!" "send it my way, I'll take care of it". But of course there is no cube and there is no wall. They're calling over facebook from the east coast and the south and from Canada and from the next town over.

I love facebook!

It makes me feel like I'm not all alone! What a wacky thing. Facebook as collegial support!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oh no.

I can't believe the news out of Ft. Hood, Texas. It's awful.

A shooting, by a soldier, of soldiers. Oh no. And by a mental health professional. A tragedy.

I just learned that a dear friend in my congregation has a step-son at Ft. Hood. He's not one of those directly affected, but of course he'll be touched. We all will. She's got another step-son in Iraq. You think you know what to worry about. Then, horrible things happen.

And then, to learn that the shooter is Muslim. Oh no. It's been so hard to be a faithful follower of Islam here in the states for so long. Islam is a religion with a deep commitment to peace and love and giving. But that's not what most people think. Most Americans think that Islam is a violent religion. It's not. Really, it's not. No.

On Thursday night, CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) Executive Director Nihad Awad told a news conference the alleged Fort Hood attacker's motive remained unknown."We urge all Americans to remain calm in reaction to this tragic event and to demonstrate once again what is best about America -- our nation's ability to remain unified even in times of crisis," Awad said. "We urge national political and religious leaders and media professionals to set a tone of calm and unity.

"Unfortunately, based on past experience, we also urge American Muslims, and those who may be perceived to be Muslim, to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their families and their religious institutions from possible backlash."

My husband, who is a transracially adopted Korean man, has had a similar experience. When the US is angry at North Korea, people perceive him as North Korean. When the US is angry at China, people perceive him as Chinese.

Our kids, too. They've been asked if they're half North Korean or South Korean. Really? Come ON now people. Come on.

As I work with my LREDA Board commitments to look deeply into Interfaith work, I wonder. Really? Really. Maybe it's time to go spend a night at my local mosque, as a physical show of interfaith commitment to peace. Peace. peace.

Election and Faith

Here in Washington state it looks like we've voted to approve R-71. Really what that means is that a nasty trick done by people who are scared and tried to sneak in some wording that was confusing, didn't work to overturn our "everything by marriage" law. Unless our ballot count changes drastically, same sex partners in our state have at least some protections.

My faith community strongly supported the effort to get this approved. There were interfaith marches in our little down town area each of the past three weeks. Yes, we have a congregation that is probably 40% GLBTQ, but that's not the core of the issue really.

To me this issue speaks directly to our faith. What is the very core of our identity as Unitarian Universalists? Who are we really? What are we here in this life to do?

It's the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

That's everything. Simple.

And it's our moral obligation as the people of this faith to work hard to build this world where each person is honored, each person has their basic human rights defended. That no one is left behind.

I hear all the time "what is our unifying message as Unitarian Universalists?" "what is the one thing we all can agree on?" "we define ourselves as what we are not, but what ARE we?"

I was raised Unitarian Universalist and while we didn't have great UU Identity curriculum or explicit faith formation in place in the 70s and 80s when I was in RE classrooms, I got it. No doubt. I know what it means to be Unitarian Universalist. I know what we believe.

We are a faith who believes in people. 'nuff said.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Shift in our Congregations

It was really an honor to sit with both Peter Morales, our UUA president and with Harlan Limpert, vice president of Ministries and Congregational Support at the recent fall conference. Both of them are so kind and warm--Peter even pulled out his blackberry to tell me where his son lives, to see if it's close to my church. (It's not!) I had a fabulous conversation with Harlan, talking about his home church, First Universalist in Minneapolis, where my brother was married.

As we ate dinner and talked more about our faith and it's future, I was able to share my view from our spot on the hill in West Seattle. I think we might have a unique situation, we're an urban congregation with a neighborhood focus. It's urban and family centered, and over the years we've gained a reputation for serving families especially well. We've grown from 23 kids my first year to 85 or so five years later and growing still. Yes, even with no classrooms and no building and no grass and no playground. It's the people, of course. Our people are deeply committed to the children, youth and families.

But it's more than that. A few years ago, I noticed a trend. Many of our new families kind of brushed me back when I started to explain Unitarian Universalism. "Oh, I grew up UU, I know what the religion is about." It was usually one of the parents, sometimes a male, sometimes a female. Immediately we'd have a connection--'remember the box series?" "the filmstrips" "AYS?" we grew up with the same things, with Unitarian Universalist things.

I started asking visitors "are you seekers, looking for a faith, or are you UUs, looking for a home?"
Sometimes I think we're kind of the canary in the coal mine at my church. Can we serve these returning UUs well? Can we speak to them without alienating them? Do we give them a book that explains Unitarian Universalism when they join our churches? Do we make them attend classes that explain our faith? We are learning. We're doing better. And we're growing because of it. Growing with people who already have a solid formation of Unitarian Universalist faith.

And this is what I got to tell Harlan Limpert as we ate our dinner and chatted about our beloved community. He listened. He took notes. He asked questions. This is the best part of serving on the LREDA board, a chance to share my story with people who need to hear it. To sing my canary song! It's not dark and gloomy and dangerous here. In fact, I think maybe we've found the path to the sun. We can bring our lost family members back, make them welcome. Expect them. Be ready.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Top Ten Ways You Know You're Feeling Better

10. You notice...oh man, you really need a shower.

9. Water tastes like water again.

8. Watching hours of mindless tv on Netflix instant view gets really old.

7. Sleeping no longer takes 18 hours a day.

6. Coffee! Warm, earthy coffee tastes like coffee again!

5. You can follow a thought from step one to step two.....and sometimes even to step three.

4. All those things you should have done for church on Sunday come back to about noon on Sunday. Crap.

3. Doing some basic, pretty mindless work feels really good.

2. Oh my GOD the kitchen floor is filthy! And you actually care!

1. Looking at a week overflowing with work....hey, looks good to me. Must be almost well!