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/ 

Thursday
May252017

Minister's Musings

Change Is In the Air

The idea of “change” strikes fear into the hearts of the best of us. It is inevitably uncomfortable! What if we don’t like it? What if we get hurt? What if we get it wrong?

But change is also an opportunity for exhilaration, discovery, and opportunity. Our political climate in this country is in upheaval; opportunity. Folks in great numbers are waking up to embedded and insidious injustices in our systems and our culture, and seeking reconciliation and justice; discovery. There is a vibrant and creative energy calling us to join the movement; exhilaration!

This congregation is engaged in all this change, and intent upon keeping faithfulness to our covenant at the center of our movement. We covenant with the congregations of our Association to affirm and promote the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism, and we are guided by many sources of wisdom. The congregations of the UUA are gathering at the end of this month in New Orleans, as we seek to address together the painful reality of the persistence of racism and other oppression in our own ranks, and examine together how structures and processes might be changed to guide us in being more faithful in our ministries.

Faith is at the center. I pray that together we are learning as a beloved community here to deepen our faith and lead faithful lives.

Granite Peak is going through changes: saying goodbye to wonderful staff and welcoming new, changing lay leadership for the coming congregational fiscal year, examining ourselves to create a meaningful strategic plan for our future. Experiencing growing pains and that is okay.

Summertime is often a chance to get some rest, have fun, connect with family and friends, and to renew our souls.

I will be away from you following General Assembly from the end of June and for the first half of July to do just that. I hope you will too! We can’t do the work without strong hearts.

In loving kindness, Karla 

Thursday
Apr272017

Minister's Musings

This month (as always!) we are called to look deeply for what our faith calls us to do. On May 7 with a teach-in designed to reveal some of the lenses of whiteness in order to see beyond our customary way of seeing, to see the hidden structures of oppression operating even here, more clearly. We are not white supremacists by any means, but the de facto result of the hidden structures of racism we are swimming in, is white supremacy. Our faithful UU people of color are asking us to hear them, to pay attention to the painful reality. We need to find our way forward beyond the fragmentation that racism inflicts on all of us, to true wholeness (“... because your liberation is bound up with mine”). We need to be present to one another in that work-ship; I invite you to step into sacred discomfort with me and with Hanne on that day.

We are being called to live into our mission:

We are a compassionate spiritual community that celebrates diversity,

 nurtures the personal and spiritual growth of all ages,

shares our gifts, promotes justice for all,

and serves the world we live in.

That means making those noble passions manifest in our hearts and in our congregation. How do we live into more compassion? How do we develop deeper spiritual connection? How do we get beyond what is usual and comfortable and get uncomfortable enough to actually experience diversity, and celebrate it?

I am also particularly concerned with nurturing the personal and spiritual growth of all ages, and that includes children and youth. Having real relationships with folks of every generation is essential to anyone’s spiritual well-being; without those connections, we are depleted, less than whole. The beloved community of a congregation needs to include all ages, or it is not the beloved community we seek. The world is changing fast, and we have been creative in seeking ways to engage young folks here; we need to become even more creative, and to learn to think “outside the box”. To me, that also means sustaining a staff position for the ministry of Faith Development. We need to staff for the vision. And right now, that means some of us who are able to  stretch a bit further in stewardship, for the sake of the beloved community and the mission.  

We are feeling some growing pains. Let’s remember our legs are growing stronger as we engage in this sacred work.

Love and light, Rev. Karla