Thursday
Oct262017

Minister's Musings

Faith...

Faith is our November theme. I stopped thinking of faith as blind belief in rigid doctrine a long time ago. Some of my Humanist and/or atheist friends object to the concept, holding up reason as the ultimate value.

Reason, intellect, curiosity, questioning; these are all amazing qualities of our mind, and Unitarian Universalists hold them high among our values. Faith is another quality, and sometimes I think of it as mind, and sometimes as “heart,” or “soul”. It might be likened to confidence; I have faith or confidence that the Earth will keep on turning so that the sun will rise tomorrow. I am confident in my belief that all humans are capable of both good and evil, and have faith that given support, almost all of us can choose a measure of good most of the time.

I am faithful to my principles of kindness and openness, to the best of my ability. I have faith in the planet’s ability to adjust and heal and evolve, though perhaps not on a human timeline... I do have great faith in our own ability to wake up, become “woke,” and do the work of justice and faith together, learning along the way.

As a congregation of the Unitarian Universalist faith, we are called to examine our ideas and practices and develop our faith. Sunday mornings, Thursday evenings, working with the children and youth, participating in other workshops and activities, give us an opportunity to put our heads and hearts together to see what that looks like, pooling our wisdom and insight, each of us pulling out what resonates or illuminates. Chewing on it. Our third principle in the covenant of congregations is “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;” we are called to assist one another in the journey. 

Thursday
Sep282017

Minister's Musings

Hospitality is our Touchstones theme this month; what a rich theological conversation we will have! We are challenged these days to resist the exhortations to fear and to build walls, and instead to welcome all, especially the stranger. How do we navigate that path between healthy boundaries and generous hospitality? Often the poorest folks are the most generous with sharing, because they know what it is like to have little and to need help.

I keep thinking, “You must be present to win.” Presence; attention; this is an essential element of hospitality. When we show up to congregational events, our presence offers us the opportunity to connect with others, to benefit from their presence, their wisdom, their inspirations. And we have the opportunity to share our own with others.

I have a deep desire to nurture more connections between the generations, between the various cultures among us, between differing perspectives. How else can we all develop our spirituality, our understanding, our skillfulness? If we avoid “children’s” events, we miss a treasure trove of delights, insights, and relationships. And the children and parents miss the chance to connect with us, too. The more, the merrier, right? We build beloved community and capacity when we show up at worship, discussions, Thank- Goodness-It’s-Thursday dinner and more, Saturday grounds work days.

I look forward to exploring many aspects of hospitality this month. I have lived the tension between healthy boundaries and welcoming strangers in need into my home, here in the past year and in years past. Hosting our friend from Nigeria was wonderful, challenging, enlightening, aggravating, rich, and costly. How do we best navigate, as we begin to explore aspects of sanctuary?

How hospitable are we ready to be, what level of hospitality can we sustain in our hearts and minds, space and pocketbooks? And always there is the underpinning of racism in our culture; how can we take this on within ourselves and our congregation and our town, a little more powerfully now? And how can we be more hospitable to our feelings of loss and grief, to our relationship with death? And, what to make of the 3 Billy Goats? 

Monday
Aug282017

Minister's Musings

Beauty

Granite Peak UU has joined with many other UU congregations in following themed ministry throug Touchstones, a service of the Western Region of the UUA. In Arizona, Beacon UU in Flagstaff and Valley UU in Chandler are also using Touchstones.

For Touchstones, the theme is a vehicle to accomplish a broad range of outcomes related to

  • congregational deepening,
  • membership growth, and
  • faith in action, as well as
  • connection to and impact within the community in which the congregation is located.

Touchstones sends us a treasure chest of materials and resources related to a different theme each month, to enrich and deepen worship, faith development, chalice circles, and outreach.

The theme for September is Beauty, and for October it will be Hospitality. Each month, Touchstones offers a journal; see it on our website, (member login) or here: Touchstones Journal September. You are invited to explore!

Let’s spend September exploring Beauty as it touches our lives, our souls. Beauty is complex and simple, fleeting and enduring. My well-being is sustained by noticing and paying real attention to beautiful things all day long: the wildflowers outside my door, the spontaneous hug from a small child after worship, the marvelous sky, the elegance of a thoughtful response on Facebook to the violence in the world.

As we muse on the wonder of the solar eclipse this week, and prepare for the in-gathering celebration of Water Communion, consider these words:

A Thanksgiving for the Elements by Eric Williams

The strength of the Earth is the stones
And the same is the source of our bones.

The Water flows across the ground And within our blood.
The Air blows around the world And brings us our breath.

The Fire streams forth from the Sun without ceasing, And sustains our lives.

By these elements We are formed.

By our voices, The beauty of the Creation is sung.

May we continue to celebrate the beauty of Creation together.

Thine, Rev. Karla

Thursday
Jul272017

Minister's Musings

Loving Kindness

I read and listen to Pema Chodron’s buddhist wisdom pretty often; she offers the teachings in a way that is accessible to my North American platform, and to my tender heart. Pema, like all my favorite authors (for example Garrison Keillor, Anne Lamott, Mark Twain) sees humanity with great clarity and also with boundless affection, in all its flaws and glory. She sees with humor, and still gets down to the business of addressing our ills. Everything, even our pain, is to be received with warmth and loving kindness.

This is enormously helpful to me. As I do my inner work, I become more aware of the violence I do to myself whenever I am less than compassionate with my difficulties. When I notice I am being less than present and aware, caught up in my ego stories about myself and others, calling hurtful names, it is helpful to notice with curiosity rather than harshness and blame. “Huh, I wonder what that is about? Must be hurting… Let’s investigate with kindness…” Out of kindness comes healing, clarity, and resilience.

Practicing loving kindness with myself makes it easier of course to practice it with others. My canine pastoral associate, Buttercup, lets me know often during the day that it’s time to offer her some love; what if I practice that with myself as well? When I am well-cared for myself, loving kindness comes easily with others I encounter. Loving kindness is our default and inherent attitude; only when we are out of balance does it recede to the background. Returning again and again to that wholeness is my everyday path. I invite you to your own path as we journey together.  

Thine, Karla

Thursday
Jun222017

Minister's Musings

I will be at GA (bound to be a historic one) and then on vacation June 19-July 15. We can celebrate a really really good year! In July we begin the new congregational year, and welcome new staff; Kathleen Cuvelier as Music Director, and Hanne Stone as Director of Social Justice and Faith Development. Safe travels, and happy summertime! Meanwhile, check out Jack...

Choose Love by Jack Kornfield

We all want to love and be loved. Love is the natural order, the main attraction, the mover of nations, the bees in spring, the tender touch, the first and the last word. It is like gravity, a mysterious force that ties all things together, the heart’s memory of being in the womb and the oneness before the Big Bang. The vastness of the sky is equaled by the vastness of the heart.”

To read more: https://jackkornfield.com/chooselove/