Sensing the Spirit
One of my favorite places to be is in the mountains. Having grown up in the high mountainous desert of New Mexico, I find that there is nothing quite like the drive up highway 395 on the East side of the Sierra Nevada to lift my spirit up where it belongs.
I had hoped to join my daughter in climbing the iconic Cathedral Peak in Yosemite when the crowds had died down after Labor Day. I imagine I wasn't the only person dismayed by the Rim Fire as it inundated Yosemite, and cut Tuolumne Meadows off from the West.
In relationships, it can be tricky to keep the fires steadily burning. Hot-running human emotions—like wildfires raging out of control in the forest—need containment and consistent care in order not to leave only scorched earth in their wake. And, as with the Rim Fire, there are times when episodes in our lives use up all the fuel they have and must come to an end.
One of my favorite trees, the aspen, consoles me when there has been a raging wildfire like the Rim Fire. It is a pioneer, a plant that comes in the wake of fire to replenish the soil, provide shade for conifer seedlings, and rustle the grief of loss into the wind where it can dissipate.
As I hiked through the aspens while waiting for the smoke to leave Yosemite, admiration filled my heart. I contemplated these aspens--part of the largest living organism on earth--connected by their roots to all the aspens across the Sierra Nevada. Even when elements overtake our world in an “act of God,” Mother Nature reminds us that there are cycles of nature and nurture to hold us in our grief, and prepare the way for the next cycle.
Rev. Sonya Sukalski
UUCB Community Minister
Have you ever thought of yourself as serving a community ministry? Unless you are one of the five affiliated community ministers of UUCB, all of whom have gone through the same rigorous seminary and field education, internship, and fellowshipping by the UUA - and culminating in ordination - it’s probable that you don’t. It’s true that affiliation with a congregation as a community minister is reserved for members of the professional ministry.
The theme of next year’s GA, “From Promise to Commitment,” lifts up crucial questions for all UUs. What promises are we willing to make one another? What does it take to follow through on them? Unlike many religious communities, we are a covenant based faith, not a creedal one. What holds us together is how we seek to treat one another and the world. Our principles and purposes name the values we affirm and promote. So the question of what we are able to do together is central.
Those shared values are a source of strength. Yet if you’ve served on one single committee or working group, here or anywhere, you know the challenges. Even people with similar core values can feel stymied by the differences that naturally arise when trying to forge agreements and action plans to move forward.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of delivering several of your prayer flags to Gov. Brown's office.
It was a very small thing – dressing up in robe and stole, sheparding baskets of prayer flags and cards from people around the state collected by PICO through security, standing in front of the bear guarded by California Highway Patrol Officers and praying for compassion and trust to grow in our communities.
The TRUST Act sits on Gov. Brown's desk, and no one knows which way he will go on it. “Secure Communities” or S-Comm as it is known to many has taken a toll on immigrant communities who are now scared to call the police in cases of violent crime for fear of attracting attention to family members who don't have documentation to be in this country. Even if they are victims! The TRUST Act would bring back discretion into law enforcement's hands about who is held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), allowing people without criminal records to avoid disappearing into an immigration detention system funded by taxpayers, where private prison corporations are getting rich. Please call Gov. Brown at (916) 445-2841 if you read this before Sept. 30, and ask him to pass the TRUST Act if you haven't already. It may take some persistence to get through.
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