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Archive for the ‘People’ Category

In many Unitarian Universalist churches and fellowships, we share Joys and Concerns (sometimes called Joys and Sorrows) each Sunday morning. The usual caveat is to not bring our political concerns and activities into that time, which I usually agree with because of the possibility of disagreement and destruction of a worshipful time. But, sometimes, as now, there are situations that threaten to affect everyone. Those situations and threats make it too difficult to keep silent.

As UUs, we are sometimes criticized for being too individualistic. One of our treasured UUA principles is “A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”  Yet, according to Michael Durall in The Almost Church Revitalized, [that principle] “is of questionable value, and may be detrimental to future growth. This is because the search for truth is the quintessential private spirituality.”

Our own private spirituality is very important and necessary. However, I feel there are times when a strong  public witness in a church service is needed. I am in no way belittling the sharing of individual concerns and joys, our hopes and fears for ourselves and our friends and families, our deaths, our hospitalizations, our birthdays, our graduations, and all of the other private  feelings and concerns about our daily lives. That is so important. If done in a spirit of respect and reverence, that time can be thoughtful and important.

But, most of us have strong beliefs and feelings when things are just plain wrong and dangerous, and we work to make a difference in peoples’  lives, both individually and in groups. I am extremely concerned and very frightened about the current Republican attacks on women’s freedoms. Many of us worked so hard in the 1960s and 1970s to help guarantee the right of contraception, the right of abortion, the right to have control over our own bodies. I see the future of those rights being eroded daily and cannot be silent.

Perhaps those concerns do not belong in sharing personal Joys and Concerns. But to me, a situation that threatens to affect the lives of everyone, both women and men, so negatively by taking away the rights of women over their own bodies has to be shared openly so that we can make a concerted effort to collectively do what is necessary to preserve and enhance those rights.

How can we share that in a reverent fashion?

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I just found this on Facebook and loved it so much I wanted to share it widely. I wonder how many of us see ourselves in the words? I sure do. Enjoy.

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Pennies from "not quite" heaven

I think I should get my eyes checked as a misreading of the online weather forecast last week cost me FIFTY CENTS! I really did read the sunrise time here as 4:30 AM and sunset about 4:45 PM. Friends at coffee told me, “no way!” But I persisted. Finally, one friend asked if I wanted to make a bet on it. Since I was so sure I’d read correctly, I was all set to wager $5.00. Oh, geesh. That really wasn’t so smart, considering the most I’ve ever made by gambling of any kind is about $30 from a penny slot machine at a casino. Luckily, this friend suggested $.50. So, I went with that.

After checking a couple of online weather sites, I discovered that I had indeed read the times wrong – way wrong. So, I bit the proverbial bullet and asked my mother to take a quarter to my friend the next day since I wouldn’t be able to go. She did  that but returned with the news that he wanted to know where the rest of his money was. Since we had kidded around by email a little, I knew he was just continuing the kidding. So, I decided to repay the rest in a little more interesting way.

Okay. I don’t normally watch a lot of television. However, while watching Rachel Maddow’s news show on MSNBC, I cut a piece of white tissue paper into small squares, dug out the tape, and rounded up 25 pennies. During the show, I wrapped each penny in a piece of paper, taping each package closed with a tiny piece of tape. I then found a sample box of toothpaste, removed the tube, and dropped each little penny package into the box. After wrapping the box of pennies with more tissue paper, I stuck on lots of little wild animal stickers and included a quote about wagering by Ralph Waldo Emerson. And waited for two days until coffee yesterday morning.

When I presented him with the rest of his “earnings,” the look on his face was almost priceless. He read the quote and checked out the stickers. He shook the box. Everyone else watched in rapt fascination as he pulled out his pocket knife and deftly and carefully slit open one end of the wrapping paper, saving the rest of the paper and the stickers. He then opened the box and dumped the contents onto the table – all 25 individually-wrapped pennies, each one looking, as my mother thought, like small pieces of white candy.

We waited. We laughed. We wondered if he would indeed unwrap each or even any of the little packages.

With his knife, he slit the tape on the first package, carefully unfolded the tissue paper from around its content, and let the first penny slide to the table. Oh, first he checked the date of the coin to make sure it wasn’t valuable.

We waited. He then proceeded to do the exact same thing with each little package, tossing the unfolded paper to another friend who likes to collect pieces of trash and paper cups from the table and throw them away each morning. It gives him something to do.

When each penny had been unwrapped, it was time for a count. Somehow he counted only 24 pennies. Oh, oh. Did I make a mistake and only wrap 24 coins? Finally, someone found a penny on the floor so I was safe. Good thing, too. Who knows how I would have presented ONE PENNY to him the next day. Oh, the possibilities are endless.

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I’m a little down right now and can’t seem to spring out of it. Friday night a friend and I had a misunderstanding caused by the way we wrote some email. We seem to have made it worse by both trying to prove how right we each were. And now we’ve been trying to not think about it by staying busy with work, perhaps too busy. I know I hurt him and he hurt me as well. Sometimes it might be nice to just be able to jump in some kind of time machine and return to an earlier time. It’s possible to use Restore to take a computer back to a better time. Why not people?

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Exciting news!

A very short but exciting blog tonight. My youngest daughter just had her second daughter late last night. The baby was born at home into her father’s arms, all 8 lbs 9 oz of her. This little one joins her 5-year-old sister. Everyone is doing just fine!

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 I had an interesting experience this morning while shopping at Sprouts, our local produce and healthy-food store. The checker, a young man, greeted me and asked, “How are you today?” I told him I was fine and then asked how he was doing. He stopped what he was doing for just a few quick seconds, smiled broadly, and replied that he was doing great. He thanked me for asking and said that he’d gotten so used to people not saying anything that my question was a welcome surprise. We talked a little more while he rang up my few purchases, and he thanked me for our conversation.
I thought about my own son who worked as a grocery-cart pusher, a checker, and a produce clerk for quite a few years, and wondered how many people are actually aware of how hard supermarket employees work. I wondered how many people realize how difficult it can be to stand in one spot for an entire shift and handle all kinds of food and other supplies and be pleasant all the time. I wondered how many people think to return the polite questions with real care and concern for the checkers at those grocery check stands. 

I wonder. Do you?

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At coffee this morning, someone asked why we were spending so much money on a mission to Jupiter that will take five years to get there and another five to return. She wondered why we couldn’t spend all that money here on earth for our needs and requirements here. As you might imagine, that question launched a very spirited conversation with excellent points made on all sides of the topic. Most of my answers revolved around the joy of discovery rather than economic possibilities. Although I agree that the economic possibilities are extremely important, I deeply feel that we humans are capable and desirous of knowing and experiencing so much more than that. So, this excellent article in  the July 01, 2007 Air & Space Magazine by Michael Griffin satisfied my need for more reasons for space exploration.
I loved the author’s comparison of space exploration today with building cathedrals hundreds of years ago, of the wonder, awe, and curiosity about things unknown. Because building massive cathedrals took such a long time, most of those builders did not live to see their projects completed. In the same way, most of us now living will not be around to see the results of our space exploration. However, it gives me a wonderful feeling just knowing we might be accomplishing important work for the long haul of life here on earth for future generations.
“It is my contention that the products of our space program are today’s cathedrals. The space program satisfies the desire to compete, but in a safe and productive manner, rather than in a harmful one. It speaks abundantly to our sense of human curiosity, of wonder and awe at the unknown. Who can watch people assembling the greatest engineering project in the history of mankind—the International Space Station—and not wonder at the ability of people to conceive and to execute the project? And it also addresses our need for leaving something for future generations.” (Michael Griffin)

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