Religious Educators are “Changing the Narrative”

I have just returned from the annual Fall Conference of the Liberal Religious Educators Association in Houston TX. The theme was “Changing the Narrative” and issues of white supremacy culture within our denomination and the urgency of empowering and sustaining leaders of color were central. What a remarkable conversation we had over the course of 5 days! Denominational leaders including Julica Hermann de la Fuente, Christina Rivera, Greg Boyd, Rev Dr Natalie Fenimore, Aisha Houser and many others led discussions, workshops and informal conversations that were at once humbling, riveting and inspiring. Brave learning and growing “caucus” spaces were carved out for both white participants and participants of color. As has been the case so often in our Unitarian Universalist history, religious educators, both non-ordained and ordained are leading us into new ways of thinking and being with one another.

As you may recall, it was mostly religious educators who spoke up eighteen months ago, changing the narrative of who we are as Unitarian Universalists, what we “look” like, and how we bring forward voices and leaders from the margins in ways that honor and respect their unique contributions to our wholeness as a people of faith. The actions of a few courageous religious educators would ultimately contribute to big changes in our association around hiring and other institutional practices at our UUA headquarters and deep, rich conversations in congregations about what it means to be complicit in a system that continues to harm and erase people within our beloved community.

The good news is – they are still at it! Religious educators from across the continent participated in workshops on restorative circles, creating space for families of color, the theology of love and shared ministry as faith formation, just to name a few. Innovations are underway to bring JUUbilee training to children and youth, to offer congregations more study materials to continue the conversations begun with the Teach-In on White Supremacy, as well as new engaging resources from BLUU via a monthly “BLUU Box.” These are just a few of the many ways you can be a part of changing the narrative within your own congregation

We have work to do as a religious people, things to learn, deep conversations to share, and curiosity to be satisfied – in other words, faith development work. If you are lucky enough to have a professional religious educator, please look to them for a pathway into and through this brave work. You can begin by asking them what gems they carried home from the conference and what they are really excited about! Your religious educator has access to many tools and resources, whether they attended the latest LREDA Fall Conference or not. If they weren’t able to be in Houston this year, make it a priority to send them to Baltimore in November 2019 (yes, Baltimore! Hurrah, the LREDA Fall Conference is coming back to the Central East Region!). Religious educators, ministers, lay leaders – all are invited into the bold work of writing the next chapter of Unitarian Universalism!

Patricia Hall Infante, Congregational Life Staff holding the Faith Development portfolio and Credentialed Religious Educator

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Dealing with the Flaws

tennis racquet and ballsI love tennis. I play it whenever I can (rather badly) and I am an avid fan. If there is tennis on TV, that’s what is showing at my house. I follow a number of the athletes, I’m on top of the news from the sport, I know exactly where the tour is going next, I have every tournament’s app on my phone.

But…

Let’s face it. This is a sport created by upper class white European men. It started in France and most of the rules were created in England. It has a deep tradition that has made it difficult to respond to changes in cultures and our changing understanding of the world. It’s been slower to adopt technology than other sports. It has its flaws.

One of those flaws is that many of the rules are vague and are up to the umpire to decide if they need enforcing. So while on paper the rules of tennis may seem fair, the enforcement of the rules can vary widely. Implicit bias can certainly enter the court as the umpire makes those decisions. Case in point is the US Open’s Womens Final this month. Serena Williams was given three code violations during the match, the final one for arguing with the umpire, which cost her a game and potentially the match.

I’m not going to debate whether or not Serena Williams broke the rules. What I want to point out is how the system made it possible for the rules to be enforced unfairly. As many male tennis players stated on Twitter, they have said much worse (oh so much worse!) to the same umpire and not been called for a code violation. So why was a woman? Here is an example of where implicit bias seemed to have taken hold. The umpire was reacting to an angry black woman. Not a tennis player. Was he trying to put her back in her place? Whether the umpire’s reaction was to her gender, her race or a combination of the two, no one knows. She only had to be judged to the standard in the umpire’s head, the ideal female tennis player.

Tennis is an example of our greater society that we’re currently living and working in. In our society there are rules that we all follow without thinking. There are rules that are vague that we enforce upon those around us in different ways depending on how we read the situation. We don’t usually take into account the culture of the other person or if the expectations or ideal in our head is inappropriate. We react. This is what we’re talking about when we say we’re fighting the white supremacy culture that’s in the water we swim in. We’re fighting against the centuries of cultural norms that are very white European in our expectations and trying to open up our minds to other ways of doing things. What other new ideas and innovations and ways of doing things are we missing out on because we’re focused on doing things they way they always have been? How many voices have we silenced? How many innovative ideas have we lost?

Changing the rules will only go so far. We have to change our minds, re-learn behaviors, and adapt how we react. That’s not easy for anyone at the best of times. But we will not see a world that is fair and equal for all until we do.

Because of this I will continue to work towards the Beloved Community and challenge white supremacy culture when I see it. Even in my beloved sport of tennis.

Beth Casebolt
CER Operations Manager and Communications Consultant

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A Traditional Ethics for a Sustainable Future

Photo: Blue Sky Permaculture Farm, Montague, MI
Photo copyright Renee Ruchotzke/UUA

We are living in a time of great change, where the forces of greed, selfishness, and fear have been unleashed and the future is unclear. We religious liberals can play an important role in influencing the conversation in a way that can shape the future with the counterforces of generosity, mutuality, and love. Unitarian Universalists have many partners in shaping our future, and we can learn a lot from one another to amplify our shared values and voices.

During my recent sabbatical (thanks to the generosity of our UUA and your Annual Program Fund gifts) I spent time doing a deep dive into Permaculture, which Mike Feingold described as “revolution disguised as gardening.” As part of that study I completed a two-week Permaculture Design Course with Peter Bane, Rhonda Baird and Keith Johnson at Blue Sky Farm. I’ll share more in future blogs but for now I want to talk about ethics.

We currently live in an a society based on ethics that condone exploitation of people and extraction from nature. Most aboriginal cultures and other traditional societies have ethics that are based on values that are in alignment with our notion of Beloved Community. Permaculture has adapted them into three (plus one) central ethical principles:

1. Earth Care

This principle aligns with the UU seventh principle: Reverence for the interdependent web of all existence. In practice this means:

  • Being good stewards of the earth, from micro-organisms in the soil to the biodiversity of species, each one having intrinsic value.
  • Increasing biodiversity is an imperative
  • Humans, as part of the community of beings, should limit our impacts by doing no further harm, conserving and restoring what is left, and consuming without waste.

2. People Care

This principle aligns with the UU first principle: Respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all people. In practice this means:

  • Our institutions should be human-centered, encouraging material and non-material well-being for all.
  • Power should be decentralized and localized (such as in our congregational polity).
  • Individuals in communities should be encouraged to take personal responsibility, initiative and practice self-reliance.

3. Fair Share

This is the principle that is the key to the future, and is where the revolution shows up.

  • We need to live in the spirit of mutuality, generosity and trust in one another and in nature’s abundance.
  • We need to articulate and address the limits to growth, consumption and population.
  • This will require a commitment to living simply and scaling back to sustainable economic principles based on the notion of the common good.

Transition-Aware (the plus one)

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke

In the past, many permaculture practitioners did so outside of the mainstream culture. But this way of being in the world offers hope and a workable model for how humans can address climate change. But even if we have a workable solution, we can’t implement it until we know how to foster a paradigm shift among fellow humans.

One critique I have of Permaculture is that—although it’s based on principles that align with traditional societies—almost all of the leaders, authors and teachers have been white men born before 1955.  There is a recognition among the rising leaders (as well as many of the elders themselves) that this grounding in “The Patrix” (White Male Supremacy culture) is something they need to address.

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke
CER Congregational Life Staff

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Relentlessly Useful Resources for Leadership Development

What would Unitarian Universalism look like if we trained our lay leaders as highly as we train other religious professionals such as ministers and religious educators? We would no longer be able to joke that we’re too disorganized to be called “organized religion.”

Your UUA Congregational Life staff has been working on a variety of online resources for lay (and professional!) leaders, and it’s now ready for its Beta release. (This means that it is operational, but there are still some missing components and some bugs to work out: In other words, it’s not perfect, but an expectation of perfection is one of the constructs of the white supremacy culture that we are trying to dismantle.)

Introducing: LeaderLab!

LeaderLab is our new home page for congregational leaders. There you will find the portal to our leadership material database, training for board members and congregational leadership development teams, leadership schools (both in person and the online UU Leadership Institute), upcoming live webinars and on-demand online courses. www.uua.org/leadership

Searchable Database!

We are assembling a searchable database of curated articles, webinars, videos, workshops, and other resources for lay leaders. You can search by tag, keywords, author, format, and date range. This will be a one-stop-shop for congregational leadership materials from the UUA.

Board Member Training!

Use this 12-Part training to onboard new board members, to use as a monthly board in-service training, or for a quick reference during board meetings.

Leadership Development Planning for Your Congregation!

Identify and train potential leaders and provide continuing training for more experienced leaders. We will give you tips and tools to design your own program as well as resources for the actual training.

Online Leadership Courses!

We have completely redesigned our online version of leadership school (replacing UULTI and Eagles) with Centered Leadership Part 1 & Part 2. Detailed course syllabi are available on the course main pages. We also offer upper-level courses and electives. www.uuinstitute.org

Live Webinar Listing!

What’s coming up? Browse the list of upcoming webinars offered by your UUA.

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UUs Participate in March for Our Lives

Fifty people left UU Fellowship of Harford County early on Saturday, March 24 for the rally in Washington, D.C. The experience seems to have resonated with the students who attended as well as the adults.

“Today (March 24) was very inspirational to me, and to others all across the world. This is something only we can solve, and today was a great stride towards success. Old sins cast long shadows but not in our case. We can use our past to brighten our future, only if we stand together and act as a whole body who wants to make a change.” So said 14 year old Aaron Knight, an 8th grade student at the Tome School in North East, after participating.

Mary Jane Price organized the trip. When asked what her motivation was for going, she responded, “TIME Magazine has called 1968 “the year that shaped a generation”. I believe that 2018 may well be the year that shapes this generation. As someone who lived through the Viet Nam war protests, the Kent State killings, the assassinations of RFK and MLK – I will never forget those times, and they forever changed me. Now I have the honor, and obligation, to help our young people navigate our current political and social climate – and discover what is within themselves, and what they are capable of. My respect for the ways in which they are stepping forward is boundless.”

Valerie Greene, a dental hygienist in Bel Air, had difficulty reflecting on the day without tears coming to her eyes. She was so impressed that kids who had gone through this unbelievable trauma were so courageous and articulate expressing their goals for removing assault weapons, also known as weapons of war, from being sold to individuals. She went on to say that one time a man tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe on a plane and even though he was unsuccessful, 17 years later we are still removing our shoes in order to board a plane. However, assault weapons have killed hundreds and nothing has happened yet.

Liam Gallihue, a 15 year old from Havre de Grace has a plan as to how a change will happen. Although he isn’t old enough to vote, he plans to encourage his friends to talk to their parents about voting for representatives who do support the goals of: banning assault weapons, stopping the sale of high capacity magazines and closing loopholes in background checks. His mother, Suzi Gallihue,  went on to say that, “If 800,000 people can stand in silence (during Emma Gonzalez’s speech), the world can be changed!”

“Witnessing first-hand the determination, courage and conviction of so many young people gives me hope for our nation’s future. I believe this march will be noted in history books as a turning point for changes in gun laws — on par with historical marches to end the Viet Nam War, racial segregation, and suppression of women’s rights,” was Belcamp resident and former school administrator Olivia Spencer’s reaction to her experience on the 24th.

Lisa Nickerson, from Havre de Grace, attended with her college professor son Evan, and she was equally moved. “To see ‘our’ children in such pain broke my heart. Saturday’s rally gave me hope that adults who have turned a blind eye to the NRA’s corporate greed are now awake. And, that our youth will hold us all account.”

“From my perspective, the courage, strength, passion, and eloquence exhibited by these students is awe inspiring. Where most kids are afraid to get up in front of a classroom, these kids are standing up in front of the world” was the reflective take-away of Maureen North, former teacher and administrator from Bel Air.

Other UU Churches around the region also participated in DC or at local marches.

First UU Columbus sent a bus filled with 20 youth, 3 young adults and 13 adults to Washington DC for the March 24 March for Our Lives led by Rev. Eric Meter and Sylvia Howe. They enjoyed the hospitality of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, VA. The youth raised funds for over half the cost of the trip through donations from the congregation.  They held a bake sale and sign-making party for the entire church to participate.

First UU Columbus also had a great delegation of folks meet up with many other UUs from Central Ohio to attend the local march in Columbus, OH.  The Washington DC youth rode overnight back from the march and reported that they learned a lot about gun safety and gun violence. They shared their reflections about their experiences on Sunday, April 8th, at First UU Columbus as the congregation marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The photos below are from the Columbus Trip.

The UUs for Social Justice in Washington DC also participate and took photos. Executive Director Pablo DeJesús said:

“March For Our Lives was an inspiring rally here in D.C., especially for the beauty of all ages living our UU values together, with the youth leading the way, and the diversity of those voices. Glimmers of a beloved community indeed! I heard talk about transforming the rally event into a movement against ALL gun violence, about making the rally moment into an inflection point in the debate. I heard youth talking about the power of their future votes, and a readiness to hold elected leaders accountable at the ballot. I heard a desire to change American culture from favoring gun safety locks over safe schools and safe communities. Fundamentally, I heard our youth in a collective declaration ‘we are our changemakers’ echoing the refrains of ‘we are the ones we have been waiting for’ and ‘el pueblo unido, jamás serávencido.’  As we UUs discern how to help the youth transform the Good Trouble (Rep.J.Lewis D-GA.5th) activism of these rallies into concrete advocacy, I urge us to embrace our denominational history on the gun issue, build upon that intellectual and moral foundation, and support sustained federal advocacy to help bring about the vision of this new generation of changemakers.”

These photos were taken by UUSJ during their participation in the March:

Below – UUs gather at All Souls Unitarian in Washington DC to make signs. Pictured is Community Minister Rev. Karen Scrivo, UUSJ Board Member for Goodloe MD, who is busy coordinating her people by cell.

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Below – March participants move along the street towards one of the entry points.

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Below  – Signs from the March. Two of the UUs in this photos are key UUSJ volunteers.

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Below: UUSJ Executive Director Pablo DeJesús is interviewed by the news (in the black hat and jacket), also pictured is Key UUSJ volunteer, Lavona Grow, to his right and UUC Arlington SJ/Youth staff, Elisabeth Geschiere, in the sunglasses

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The Learning Lab of Life

Innovation! Adaptation!! Experimentation!!! We live in a time of incredible change and shifting paradigms. Technology continues to zoom along at a pace that is breathtaking and society seems to be chomping at the bit for the next big thing. At the same time, some of the things we thought we could count on to stay the same have fallen away or been eroded all across our society and our planet. Human rights, glacial ice, democratic principles and civility are under attack and there are moments when I wonder if the universe is testing humanity to find out if we are really up to the task of living meaningful lives.

Then I remember, nothing in this life is settled or guaranteed. We all exist in a constant state of adaptation and experimentation with the inner and the outer world. Who am I today? Who and what matter to me today? What will I do for the first or last time today and how will I be changed by it? Imagine a congregation of 50, 100, or 500 people who are changing every minute, every second – how are we adapting to this unyielding state of flux? By their very nature, congregations are organic, evolving systems and yet even as the people within change and adapt to new ideas, new understandings of self and our companions on the journey, we expect the institution to remain static and to continue to be the same place we have always known. If we are changing, shouldn’t our congregations do the same?

Some congregations adapt quickly and confidently to new ideas – always seeking the latest “best practice.” For those not leading, it can seem dizzying and arbitrary. Some congregations move more slowly, changing only when a crisis is upon them and there is no other choice. Again, for those not in leadership, that may feel frustrating and lead to a sense of “stuckness.” So who wins the race – the tortoise or the hare? Guess what, it isn’t a race and what works in one place may be a complete failure in another.

Congregations struggle in myriad ways and I often get asked the question, “what’s the best practice for this problem I’m facing?” Certainly there are “common” practices often shared by staff or between leaders but the “best” practice for your congregation is the one that is manageable and sustainable for you at this time in your history. If someone tries to tell you there is a “right” way to do church, push back. Experiment with new ways of worshipping, new models for engaging with families, new styles of music, or new ways of gathering in community. Nothing will last forever so why not become a laboratory for exploration and adaption? Despite Yoda’s best advice, it is okay to try. The anxiety of making the budget or fixing the roof won’t disappear but maybe we will feel better about the work when we unleash our creative spirit in the pursuit of joy and spiritual growth.

All of us are living in a lab – we are part of the grand experiment called life. We can’t know what lies before us and how each of our days will unfold but if we make space for community, joy and creativity, we have all we need to make it to tomorrow

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Want to Grow? Time to Adapt!

Youngstown Board MeetingIs your congregation looking to be relevant in a culture where most mainstream white religions are in decline? Many UU congregations are growing, even areas that have declined economically. What is their “secret sauce?”

It’s as simple as congregational health, a sense of purpose, open communication, and covenantal community.

And it’s as complicated as congregational health, a sense of purpose, open communication, and covenantal community. These are not things learned in a single workshop or by reading a single book. They are processes—ways of being in the world. These are not skills that a single leader can gain and take to their congregation. They are group skills that are best learned by a critical mass of the congregation (20% or so) learning together.

The UUA has made it easy and affordable for your congregational leaders to learn together, taking core leadership courses as a group, and then using what you learned by applying it to case studies and other activities.

  • Faithful Leadership is a great beginning course, covering how our history, theology and polity inform our faith communities.
  • Centered Leadership focuses on healthy relationships and communications, developing a shared sense of purpose, and how to lead through a change.
  • Strategic Leadership is for boards, strategic planning committees, bylaws task forces, etc. helping you lead strategically through governing documents and processes.
  • Adaptive Leadership helps leaders develop a more nuanced view of the congregation as a system during uncertain times.

The courses each have 8 sessions. They open every 2 weeks, and each participant will get an email when each new module is open. The cost is only $30 per course per semester per participant.  There is a combination of YouTube video presentations by UUA Congregational Life staff and guests, as well as readings and links to more resources.

The first module opens January 26, 2018, so you have plenty of time to enroll!

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UUA’s Commission on Institutional Change

Members of the UUA’s Commission on Institutional Change

Have you heard of the UUA’s Commission on Institutional Change?

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Commission on Institutional Change is charged with long-term cultural and institutional change that redeems the essential promise and ideals of Unitarian Universalism. Appointed by the UUA Board of Trustees in 2017 for a period of two years, the Commission will analyze structural racism and white supremacy within the UUA.

The members of the Commission are

  • Rev. Leslie Takahashi, chair: Lead Minister at the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek, CA, and Affiliated Faculty with Meadville Lombard Theological School
  • Caitlin Breedlove: Vice President for Movement Leadership at Auburn Seminary; former Campaign Director of the UUA Standing on the Side of Love Campaign, former Co-Director of Southerners on New Ground
  • Mary Byron: Member of the UUA Audit Committee; former executive with Goldman Sachs
  • DeReau Farrar: Director of Music at the First Unitarian Church of Portland, OR, member of the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network
  • Rev. Natalie Fenimore: Minister for Lifespan Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, NY; former president of the Liberal Religious Educators Association
  • Dr. Elias Ortega-Aponte: Associate Professor of Sociology and Religious Ethics at Drew University, and member of the UUA Religious Educator Credentialing Committee

Additionally, Rev. Sofia Betancourt, former UUA Interim Co-President for Institutional Change, will help support the Commission as it gets started during the first few months.

Watch their introductory video:

Their Principles and Goals are:

The Commission on Institutional Change held its first in-person meeting on August 21 and 22, 2017. After two days of deliberation and consideration of the charge presented it by the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Commission completed a statement of its work, its guiding principles and its approach to its work. Over the two years the Commission will report back to the Board and General Assembly its learning, recommendations, and guidance for ongoing work. The Commission will:

  • Ground its work in theological reflection and seek the articulation of a liberating Unitarian Universalism which is anti-oppressive, multicultural and accountable to the richness of our diverse heritage.
  • Oversee an audit of racism within the Unitarian Universalist Association practices and policies to set priorities and make recommendations for anti-oppressive strategies (including hiring and personnel practices and governance structures) and that will advance our progress towards building the Beloved Community and hold the Association accountable.
  • Collect stories of those who have been the target of harm or aggression because of racism within existing UUA culture and to identify the aspects of that culture which must be dismantled to transform us into a faith for our times.
  • Examine and document critical events and practices at all levels of the Association, congregations and related ministries which spotlight areas for redress and restorative justice and illuminate the expectations placed on religious professionals of color in the transformation of our faith.
  • Identify promising practices for recruitment, retention and formation of religious leadership which spans the spectrum of race, class and age and which reflects an ecclesiology of an inclusive faith.

The Commission has a webpage on the UUA website that details their charge, goals, bios of their members and how they plan to work together. They have also created a blog where you can follow their work.

The Commission will report back their findings at future General Assemblies. To contact the Commission, email [email protected].

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#UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn Fall 2017 Dates Announced

In the last few weeks, Unitarian Universalists have responded alongside interfaith and activist partners with love and resistance to overt white supremacists in Charlottesville and across the country. In April, May, and June, 682 of the 1,038 UU congregations–and 32 other UU communities–held UU White Supremacy Teach-ins.

Through public witness, education, and introspection, our faith is coming to understand that fighting white supremacy means both resisting its most blatant forms “out there,” and disrupting its systemic manifestations within.

The first round of teach-ins brought moments of triumph, awkwardness, fierce debate, powerful revelations, joy and pain for Unitarian Universalists of color, and much more. The Teach-In team again calls our siblings in faith to action to continue the work of growth and learning. On Sunday, October 15th or Sunday, October 22nd, join together with UU communities nationwide in Part Two of the UU White Supremacy Teach-in. Our power and reach are magnified when we come together.

The Teach-In Team is collaborating on building three different “tracks” for congregational lay and clergy leaders in which to situate their communities. Some UU churches lean towards being intellectual, academically inclined places; others are full of activists, and still others are places that “love church,” but are hesitant to enter the waters of the social justice and most are a mix of all three. In the coming days, an assessment tool will be forthcoming, which will help those planning your congregation’s Teach-In to choose a track. Webinars, Sunday morning worship, children’s chapel, religious education, high school youth, and other resources, lesson plans and more are coming soon, friends. You can find the resources on the Teachin website, uuteachin.org.

Some ask, “Why give up another Sunday for ‘social justice work’ and ignore spirituality?” For us, the answer is clear: for the oppressed, there is no such thing as separating social justice and spirituality. Combating overt white supremacy and white supremacy culture is a theological endeavor for our faith–from the top of the UUA, to each individual in every congregation and community. We treat it as such—and on October 15th, 22nd, and every day between now and then, we call on you to join us. Register your congregation’s participation today at the Teachin website.

In faith,
Aisha Hauser, Christina Rivera, Kenny Wiley, and the UU White Supremacy Teach-In Planning Team- consisting of religious educators, lay and ordained clergy and UUA staff

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Finding Our Way Through the Darkness

The total eclipse of 2017 is nearly here, where the moon comes between the earth and the sun, upending all we thought we understood about the universe and our place in it. Science can explain the mechanics in ways that we humans can mostly understand but the enormity of this shadow play taking place amongst the stars is somehow beyond our earthbound, mortal comprehension. Eclipses have been observed for thousands of years and the story of the sun mysteriously disappearing in the middle of the day is part of just about every ancient culture.

Eclipse myths often entail an animal devouring the sun such as the Viking sky wolves or the Vietnamese toad. These tales gave rise to the practice of banging drums or pans and shouting at the sky demons to chase them away and bring back the sun. “If you do a worldwide survey of eclipse lore, the theme that constantly appears, with few exceptions, is it’s always a disruption of the established order,” said E. C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.

Ah, the disruption. Science assures us that the sun will in fact return but our hearts fear the never ending darkness and the uncertainty that everything we counted on to be true before night descended may not return. How like the place we as a people find ourselves: much that we hold dear is being disrupted – loss of human rights, the closing of our borders, the unjust killing of people with brown skin, and the loss of the only home we know to deadly climate change. Darkness is all around us. An eclipse takes place light years away and is moved by forces few of us can really explain yet here on earth, we experience the fear and the uncertainty deep in our mortal bodies.

In these dark days we Unitarian Universalists spend lots of energy banging the metaphorical pans – protesting, partnering and simply showing up on the side of love and justice. This is good and necessary work but it exacts a toll and our spirits need sustenance; our hearts need reassurance that the values we cherish will prevail. As we wait for the sun’s return, we must hold fast to our principles and to the practice of gathering in community.

Patricia Infante

Take time to breathe in the coming days, take time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you and share that beauty with others. Be open and curious about new ways of engaging with difference and be gentle with your own imperfections. Sing, dance and let yourself feel the goodness that exists in our world. Practice resilience against the darkness, even when it seems impossible. Hold space for one another to be vulnerable about that which we fear.

May the strength that is present in our communities of faith guide us through this dark and difficult time. The universe moves slowly but inexorably towards justice and the sun will return, just as it always has.

Patricia Infante
CER Congregational Life Staff

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