From the Revs: How Goes it With Your Spirit in These Times?

Dear ones,
A couple weeks ago, I shared this Buddhist story in worship:  a person is being chased by tigers and running for her life as fast as she can.  She sees a cliff ahead, and hears the tigers behind her.  When she gets to the cliff she begins climbing down, every so often glancing up to see the ferocious tigers reaching for her from above.  She glances below, and sees more tigers at the bottom, smacking their lips in anticipation of a delicious human snack.  Terrified, she pauses and looks straight ahead.  There, in a small crevice in the cliff, a strawberry plant grows.  The person reaches out for a strawberry, and savors its taste in her mouth.
The news is full of tigers these days. The ones that have me most outraged and sad are the migrants fleeing for their lives who are being denied entry, detained, and separated from their families (Click here for information about a critical protest onMonday 7/2 or here to support national UU and immigrant organizing) and the slew of Supreme Court decisions this week that roll back the rights of women, workers, and voters (not to mention Justice Kennedy’s retirement announcement).  
RevHeather and I hear, too, about the tigers in your own lives – of depression, health challenges, harassment, job loss, grief, and more.  
In these times of ferocious tigers, we need to strengthen our tools for nourishing our spirits and replenishing our strength.  So this summer, we invite you into recommitment and experimentation of your spiritual practices – those things that help you to deal with the tigers, to notice what is right in front of you, to savor the strawberry, to say “Yes, and” to life and love (as Rev. Meg Riley put it in her Berry Street Lecture at General Assembly last week).  
What are the things you practice doing on a regular basis that help ground, center, delight, inspire, and strengthen you?  For me, it’s taking 3 deep breaths before each meal (when I’m not distracted by my children); writing down gratitudes at night; taking a weekly Sabbath offline; noticing beauty and brokenness throughout my day; showing up at protests; laughing with my kids.   For you it may be exercise, tai chi, your morning cup of coffee, Small Group Ministry, or walking in nature.   Or, perhaps you don’t have any spiritual practices right now (though I bet if you stop to think about it, you do and just haven’t named it a “spiritual practice”).
This summer, our worship services will focus on a different spiritual practice each week, and our Summer Religious Education will do the same (10:30am, every Sunday!).   Many of our spiritual practice offerings like Tai Chi and Ballroom Dance are continuing all summer – perhaps you’ll try a new one! (Browse them on our calendar here).  Our hope is that we can support one another in reinvigorating, going deeper, and experimenting with our individual and collective spiritual practices.
In these times of loud and vicious tigers, we must redouble our effort to Nourish Spirits and Build Community, so that we have the strength and energy to Work for Justice.
Summer is also a time when RevHeather and I step away from day-to-day church life to replenish, renew, plan, and study. We will be on vacation for the first two weeks of July.  Then we’ll be in and out of the office and pulpit until late August.  We will be on call for pastoral and congregational emergencies.  For non-urgent pastoral issues, or to share a concern or joy with the Caring Network and broader congregation, please contact Janice Newton at 860-677-1121 or janicecnewton@gmail.com and/or speak to the Worship Associate for the upcoming Sunday if there is personal news you wish to be shared on Sunday morning.  If something urgent does arise, please do call our cell phones (Rev. Cathy 541-390-7553 / Rev. Heather 541-390-6052).
Remember to gather some water from wherever and however you spend your summer days for our Ingathering and Water Communion service on September 16th.
May your summer be full of sun and yet not too hot.
May you find renewal in the everyday motions of life.
May you find your own ways to uplift dignity and resist oppression.
May you connect with love and beauty.
Be well,
Rev. Cathy, with RevHeather