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Columns and occasional online reflections from First UU Ministers, staff and members of our community.

 

 

Rev. Eric Meter - Skydiving . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Eric Meter   
Tuesday, 28 March 2017 00:00

blog em skydivingHearing the word risk often brings back the memory of the first, and only, time I jumped out of a plane. I’ve lived a great deal since that day over twenty years ago, and my understanding of risk has matured a bit since then, but I’d be lying if I said that day didn’t make a lasting imprint on me.

As much as I remember the thrill and the silence of seeing the world with nothing under my feet buy air and a curious circling hawk, what I think back to the most took place inside the plane before any of us jumped.

The plane was a small one, with the insides gutted except for the pilots seat. It could take four “jumpers” up at a time. We arranged ourselves in order of who would jump first, second.... I was second, so I was directed to sit behind the pilot’s seat facing backward. This was fine with me, I was facing my friend Bill, who would jump third, and the guy would jump last in our group. Looking to my left, I could see the guy who would jump first. But as the plane picked up speed and started to rise, instead of being pitched back, I was pitched forward and suddenly I was very glad it had been hours since lunch. Bill must have seen how quickly I turned green, because he reached out and took my hand.

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Rev. Lane Campbell - Ordinary Everyday Risk PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Lane Campbell   
Tuesday, 21 March 2017 00:00

blog lc riskI have to admit- risking is not something I come to easily. I have often admired people willing to take a leap of faith, willing to step into things previously unknown. But that is not me. You will not find me jumping off of cliffs into a deep pool of ocean. You will not find me running into a burning building. Sometimes, it's just hard to try new foods or to get into a social group where I have not previously been.

A part of the reason I am risk-averse is fear. There are times when I hold back, stay silent, disengage because the fear is so deeply felt. Fear of making a mistake, fear of people not liking me, fear of what I do not know, fear that what I believe will happen will actually happen. There was a time in my life when I lived like this all the time. It took deep healing work to get out of that place.

Part of the problem in considering risk is that I think of the big ones. I think of those folks who go bungee jumping or sky diving. I think of people who constantly travel alone to places they have never been. These are big risks! And risk doesn't have to look like that is our everyday lives. In fact, it often doesn't.

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Rev. Jennifer Brooks - Are We Afraid to Take the Risk? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Jennifer Brooks   
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 00:00

blog jb valuesAs I’ve traveled around the United States, visiting and serving Unitarian Universalist congregations, there’s one thing I’ve noticed that troubles me: how invisible our values are.

Many of our buildings are set back from the road, sometimes with only a sign to signal their presence in the neighborhood. Usually it bears the name of the congregation. Usually that name includes “Unitarian,” or “Universalist,” or both. Usually the name includes the word “congregation” or, sometimes, “church.” Sometimes there’s a tagline like the one on our sign on Weisheimer: “All Are Welcome.”

But almost uniformly these signs don’t make visible to passers-by the values we cherish. There’s often nothing to indicate anything about our covenant-based, values-centered invitation to create a life with meaning and purpose. In a sense, our exterior signs and signals say: “You decide who we are.”

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Rev. Lane Campbell - Labels, Language, and Identity, Oh My! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Lane Campbell   
Tuesday, 21 February 2017 00:00

blog lc pronounsThe words we use to define ourselves and who we are matter.

I have never been more in touch with this concept than I am at this particular moment in my life and in the lifetime of the United States.  Words to identify who we are can be claimed in an empowering way, allowing us access to groups of people who share our identities.  Words to identify who we are can be used as weapons from people intending to do harm.  Words to identify who we are can be celebrated by communities of shared identity and by allies.  And words to identify who we are can be misunderstood, as words have different meanings in different communities or contexts.  Either way, these words matter and bring meaning into our lives.

For myself, I can tell you I identify with all sorts of words and labels: white, woman, queer, cis-gender, temporarily able-bodied, partnered, middle-class, minister and so on.  These words and the meaning behind them give shape to who I am.  And there are many other words folks would use to describe me, some I would claim and others I would not.  One of the deepest exercises I have ever taken part in invited participants to trace our bodies and then to write inside of the shapes of our bodies all of the labels used to identify us by others.  Then, we went through the labels and crossed out those that do not apply to us.  It was an extremely empowering exercise, to be able to say, “That's not me.  This is who I am.”

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Rev. Jennifer Brooks - Identity PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rev. Jennifer Brooks   
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 00:00

blog jb indentityEach of us from time to time stands alone beneath the stars, longing to know our place in the universe. There is something about the majesty of endless dark strewn with tiny lights that provokes both awe and self-reflection.

Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?

These are expressions of humankind’s deepest longing. It’s as if the universe, expanding for billions of years, evolved creatures that could speak its most profound questions. Perhaps we who ask are the ones tasked with finding the answers. Perhaps to search for meaning is what we evolved to do.

Perhaps the answer to our search for meaning is, ultimately, not in service to the meaning of life but to the meaning we each make from our own individual lives.

Yet our meaning-making is often overwhelmed by the sheer busyness of our lives. Survival, success, relationships good and bad, security, insecurity, errands and what’s-for-dinner. In all of this activity, who we are and the meaning we hope to make can get lost.

Until we stand under the stars again, and look up, and remember the questions.

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