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Reactions to the Buffalo Shooting

 

Dear Ones,

Below is a recent letter from the staff at UUA's Side With Love regarding the recent shooting at the supermarket in Buffalo, NY. I think it's important to read because it brings out the complexities in the motivations behind this shooting and the deep-rooted cultural norms that allow this kind of behavior to happen.

 

Some of us who are white might still be uncomfortable with the term "white supremacy." Many of us have been taught that this term only refers to those in Ku Klux Klan garb or those who espouse neo-nazi rhetoric. That is not what this article is referring to. Instead, it is referring to the dominant US culture that holds up those from a Euro-American background (white) as having the supreme or "right" culture. For centuries, through our laws and cultural norms, the privileges for and ways of being of those who are white have been considered the norm. Anything else has been considered less than and treated accordingly. Because these norms are so deeply embedded in our institutions, they can be difficult to recognize. Even by people who try to live compassionate lives of justice for all.

 

This article is not (I don't think), trying to shame folks into feeling bad about our culture. Rather, the writers want us to be aware of the inequities of systems and cultures that white folks have lived with for so long that we may not notice their ills. Once we notice, we are then called by our faith and love to do something about it.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I am learning, too.

Please take a moment to send love to all those family and friends affected by the Buffalo shooting and think of one thing you might be able to do to help. Then do it.

Blessings, Rev. Lise

 

Click here to read the UU Side with Love article.

Minister's Message for February 2022

 

Dear Friends, 

 

It's good to be back with you again!  (And it looks like I'm going to be here for a while!  But more on that in a couple of paragraphs. (-:)

 

As most of you probably knew, I was down in San Diego for a minister's conference and then stayed with Nelson for a week of vacation and seeing family.  It was wonderful to see colleagues (after two years!) and share what we've been doing.  As a group, we did a lot of grief work and letting go in our corporate worship.  As we know, the pandemic has forced us all to reconsider our priorities, let go of expectations, and be more flexible--not always easy tasks!   We also started talking about what's next, which is kind of funny since none of us has learned how to read crystal balls. :-) (For some reason, it wasn't a UU seminary class . . .)  

 

So what were the conclusions?  For those congregations who can, hybrid worship is definitely in the future, if not the present.  We'll be looking at ways to recreate and strengthen connections after being virtual for so long, especially with young families who have borne and continue to bear so much stress during this time.  We'll be listening to needs and, when appropriate, experimenting with new ways of doing things that fit better into our new world as we move from a pandemic mindset to an endemic one.  Continuing to work on social justice issues will also be important as the pandemic has highlighted the vast extremes that exist in our society economically, socially, politically, and racially.  Yes, these are big picture thoughts, but remember we didn't have a crystal ball reading class in seminary, so . . .

 

One thing, however, which does look pretty certain, is that I am going to be staying on at AUUF as your settled minister!  (But you all still have to make it official by voting on March 20, 2022.)  

 

When I got home, the MCC (Ministerial Call Committee) greeted me with their completed report.  They then shared it with the Board on Wednesday night, and since their findings were positive, and I'm still agreeable to moving forward with you all, the Board is making plans for the final step of call which is the vote on March 20.  They'll be getting the information for this meeting out to you all ASAP and sharing the MCC's report so you can all see what the fellowship said about what they want from their minister and how I fit into those wishes.

 

One of the things that I love most about the report (besides the positive conclusion) is the word cloud the MCC created about your ministerial wishes.  Some of the biggest, and most popular words are leadership, guidance, inspiration, collaborator, service, spiritual, diversity, thought-provoking, administrator, spokesperson.  These words are both humbling and exciting to me--humbling that you think I can fulfill them and exciting because we get to go on an adventure together!  One of my favorite words in the word cloud is collaborator.  I've always believed that folks can get things done best when they work together, and by having this word in such high standing, it infers you all believe so, too.  But actually, I already knew that about AUUF from the last year and a half.  It's good to have it confirmed in the report as well.  

 

So what's next?  Stay posted for news about in-person activities as we finish getting our AV system refined and AV volunteers trained (we still could use some more--contact me if you're interested).  We need to finish our stewardship drive, so please pledge for our values and dreams if you haven't yet.  We're going to be presenting our Covenant of Right Relations (title still to be determined) at our annual meeting so look for information on that.   Stop by and say hi or drop me an email if we haven't met yet, or even if we have.  I'm so looking forward to deepening our relationship and collaborating with you all both within and outside our AUUF walls.

 

Most importantly, please take care, everyone, and be kind to yourselves.  You are all loved.

 

Blessings,  Rev. Lise  

Minister's Message for January 2022

 

Dear Ones,

Hopefully, many of you saw the announcement on Sunday that worship is via Zoom only through February. Sigh. In consultation with the rest of our staff, the worship team, and the Board we finalized this decision at the Board meeting Wednesday night. The Forum will continue online as well. And of course, it’s because of Omicron, the latest development of our pandemic.

 

“Our pandemic.” It sounds almost loving, doesn’t it? At least in my goofy frame of mind right now. Thinking this reminds me of a friend who named her cancerous tumor. She didn’t want to keep feeling angry and angsty about her condition so she named him so they could at least become friendly, if not friends, and work out some sort of détente. It seemed to work for several years—her very late-stage cancer and she lived together much longer than expected. This story isn’t meant to imply that all we have to do is reframe our situation and everything will work out magically; it’s simply an example of one way to cope that works for some people. Others of us ramp up our exercise routine, binge-watch Netflix, talk more to our friends, dance in our kitchen. Hopefully, many of us have found ways to continue to make ourselves feel good during this very, very challenging time.

 

But sometimes, despite our best efforts, nothing seems to work and we find ourselves sinking more deeply into our malaise, into the incomprehensible sameness of everything. Or we watch a loved one who simply stops thriving. It’s nobody’s fault—sometimes our brain chemistry just changes, or maybe we were born with a genetic tendency for depression or other mental illness. Years ago, I suffered from post-partum depression. Unfortunately, like many folks, I had to fight through the stigma of mental illness to regain my health. Fortunately, with the compassion of loved ones and the medical field, I got help.

 

Years ago, our son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We confirmed our fears by taking him to the emergency room in the middle of the night. As we stayed with him as they went through the process of slowly lowering his incredibly high blood sugar, I was racked with guilt. What could I have done differently? Did I miss something? Was I a bad parent? Our nurse looked me straight in the eyes and said with sympathy and confidence, “This is not your fault. There is nothing you could have done to prevent this.” Our nurse threw me a lifeline, one which I’ve kept tucked in my back pocket and brought out for myself, and others when needed. Now, my son is healthy and thriving, using the medical tools available to treat his diabetes. Remember, there are medical tools available for treating mental illness, too.

 

All of this is to say that if you’re suffering, I hope you can reach out to a doctor, a friend, or me, and ask for help. Showing our vulnerability can be hard, but it can help us to get better, and stronger. It also allows us to bring the challenge of mental illness out into the open, to make it more commonplace and acceptable. If we work as a community to accept and help those with mental illness, we will all benefit. Here are some places to reach out to if you don’t feel you can share your concerns with someone you know just yet:

 

American Foundations for Suicide Prevention: Call 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741

 

National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)

 

Please remember You. Are. Loved.

Blessings, Rev. Lise