Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda
news of our historic UU church in Ruthven (Kingsville), Ontario

Today’s Interconnected World (Neil Buhne)

May 31st, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #298 Wake, Now, My Senses
~)-| Words: Thomas J. S. Mikelson, 1936- , © Thomas J. S. Mikelson
Music: Traditional Irish melody, harmony by Carlton R. Young, 1926- ,
renewal © 1992 Abingdon Press
Tune SLANE

Interpreted by Daniel Wiebe


Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

It is easy to find ourselves wrapped up into the larger story of the Pandemic.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives. Some of these other stories may be related to the pandemic, while others might not be directly connected to it.

As we think about our own stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration, we are also mindful of stories from around the world, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

This week, we recognize racism in our society, keeping in mind the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. While this incident occurred in the United States, we are aware that racism is also prevalent in our country, and we are all called to action in acknowledging and dismantling it.

Offering

Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic. Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”. When in doubt, ask someone who you trust. Let us take care of each other!

Reflection – Today’s Interconnected World – Neil Buhne

Watch:

Read:

http://uuolinda.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Olinda-Buhne-Interconnected-Post.pdf

Thank you – it is a privilege to be among you this morning.  I heard about the Olinda church back when I was 6 or 7 and went to the UU fellowship up the road in Windsor.  Going to that Sunday school, thanks to my Mum and Dad,  helped me to learn values that still motivate me and which I still try to aspire to fulfil.   I have thought back to those values since I became involved from beginning February in the work of the United Nations in the difficult job of diminishing the effects of the corona virus on peoples and community’s health and well-being.  I am always reminded of  the relevance of what I absorbed then to the universal challenge all people now face – to differing degrees.

Universal in that the virus affects everyone everywhere, regardless of nationality, of gender, or religion, starting in China, with Thailand where I am speaking from  the second country with a recorded case,  and there are people affected in all the places I have lived, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, other places and even now  in Kingville/Leamington.

Universal.. but to differing degrees. In India, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia and the Philippines the challenges are still very big -as COVID  is still spreading,   But in places like Vietnam (zero), Japan,  Taiwan, S. Korea, Bhutan and Thailand, the disease has much less effect.

But how it affects people is different too. Here in  Thailand in a country almost twice as big as Canada less than 60 people have died since beginning February – Canada has had nearly 7,000 death. But the economic and social effects may end up being more in a country in which tourism is vital and trade crucial.  So fortunately, there are many less people who have died or had their lives turned upside down by illness…- but there are homeless  and hungry people where there were none before.  This is an issue here – but where I was living before in Pakistan or its neighbors India  and Bangladesh – hundreds of million who had slowly  pulled themselves out of poverty have quickly fallen back; with all the hardships associated with that.

Five  years ago,  the world committed itself to 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be met between 2015 to 2030 – fundamentally to leave no behind.   Despite Asia being the fastest region to economically grow – progress was slower already  in early 2020 on most of the goals.  Ironically, the ones where there was the most progress the last years:  education and health and progress on reducing poverty,  are the ones most at risk now of falling back. 

So why is the effect different on countries and on different groups of people so much?   What is the same – is that the most vulnerable are made more vulnerable: the migrant informal work in Mumbai India, the partly employed middle aged black man living in the Cass corridor near first UU in Detroit.      The frustration at this injustice can have other effects – the destruction from frustrated demonstrators – even just 50 km from here in Detroit – has roots in frustration at  being left behind. (excluded from salvation).  This includes being left behind on how the justice system treats them – but accentuated by more middle- aged black men and women dying from COVDI and losing their job.  How countries help or don’t help their move vulnerable is shaping the differences among countries (and within countries) now.

So it is a bleak situation.  – But it need not be. When Michael Fox founded UU Olinda -it was just a few months from the massacre of the Donnelly family 200 km NW – killings based on intolerance, misplaced righteousness and jealousy. This was  followed  months later by a ferry sinking near London killing 182 people   It was brave of him to found a church based on rejecting  the doctrine of eternal punishment. As you know – the  Universalists believed in a God who embraced everyone, and this eventually became central to their belief that lasting truth is found in all religions, and that dignity and worth are innate to all people regardless of sex, color, race, or class.

What was believed by those people in Olinda in  1881 would be consistent with the basic reasons the UN was founded in 1945:

  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours

So you may think now…… what do the Black Donnelly’s and Michael Fox and the founding of the UN  have with the effects of COVID -19??  Neil must be tired  – late on a Sunday evening in Bangkok!

“Let me quote my boss, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres:

Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face.

What the world needs now is solidarity.

With solidarity we can defeat the virus and build a better world.”

*******

How we apply that solidarity can unite us or can divide us more!

The UN – and others did warn about the effects of pandemic -especially after ebola and SARS. But the world  did  not act on this warning.  If there is good news it is in this case,  a situation that we can cope with  — and with persistence and goodwill and solidarity we can overcome it.

Unlike in 1881 – we have more tools in our box  to make it through  this: we can communicate, we do have science, we have the capabilities – we  just need the will to cooperate.  But that will  does not come out of  nowhere.  It comes in good part  from the values we have and how we apply them.

Values of community and solidarity have helped the Olinda UU community come through much in 120 years.    The will to act in solidarity is rational –  but it also  come from the values people have.

So these values  from 1881, are as relevant now as  they were  when this church was founded. And applying these values  can have an effect on this community and if applied by everyone – on the world.

One of the keys sources of the UU  principles is to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science.  When the church was founded,  in 1881 Louis Pasteur found the first vaccine.  Applying that science now to a vaccine and to treatment is crucial – but that openness to science and objective approaches is also key to dealing with the economic and social effects of the pandemic. (Thailand has been good in doing this..)

But as the SG says – as important is,  the value of solidarity – and  the principles that UN is based on, especially “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” and “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations”.

Societies with solidarity are societies where there is trust.  Studies – including those I learned about at the University of Windsor from 1978 to 1982 and also much more recently  –  show that  the presence of trust brings a wellspring of positive outcomes: Communities with a strong sense of trust are better able to respond to crises.  Trust is associated with stronger economic growth, increased innovation,  greater stability, and better health outcomes.

It is associated with better success in overcoming the virus – in Switzerland compared with France,  in Germany compared with the UK,  in South Korea compared with Italy, in Thailand compared with Indonesia and even in Canada compared with the USA.

So the values remain relevant, which helped create an enabling environment that permitted the hard work of my parents as immigrants to give me more chances. Such  values helped create a  relatively prosperous, empathetic (if still imperfect) society, a society that can deal with the virus – and use values drawn from Universalism  to better apply the tremendous capacities we now have to meet the global – universal – challenges that still remain: in the health response, in the humanitarian actions, and in the socio-economic response.

The UN SG Guterres recently said: “Let’s not forget this is essentially a human crisis. Most fundamentally, we need to focus on people – the most vulnerable.”

And to conclude with two quotations  from the former UN SG I knew the best, Kofi Annan.  They are relevant to the moment:

As long as inequality and other social problems plague us, populists will try to exploit them.

——

We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race

That quote  summarizes   what I believe  and which I first learned from UU and what is relevant to remember, and to feel, now.

Universal truths

Universal values

Science and objectivity informed by values..

When the church was founded…….local global…

Today…. Universal roots of spirit of what motivate Fox still relevant

Today SG…

Today – most successful – where there was community – where there was science – where there was value on human life

Need to be relevant..

Did not listen to warning  – but a warning we can cope with

Need to use those value to cope with  challenges that may be harder to cope with

But unlike 1881 – we can communicate, we do have science, we have the capabilities – we need the will – and will comes from reason but will also come from value

Relevant now almost 120 years since this church was founded

Where  the Asia region was  – and I was – in  the beginning of 2020.

What happened to people and societies in the regions since then.

What has worked and not worked.

What is different than in Canada.  What is the same as in Canada.

The roles of shared values,  of science, of community and of solidarity 

What next – is there a roadmap, or guide book?

Played on weaknesses and build on strengths…

he “Black” Donnellys were an Irish family who emigrated to Ontario. Five of the family were murdered by an armed mob in the township of Lucan Biddulph in February 1880 and their farm was burned down, the culmination of long-standing conflict between the family and other residents. No one was convicted of the murders, despite two trials.

  • May 24 – The overloaded steamer Victoria’ capsizes on the Thames River near London, Ontario, killing 182 people.

The Universalists believed in a God who embraced everyone, and this eventually became central to their belief that lasting truth is found in all religions, and that dignity and worth are innate to all people regardless of sex, color, race, or class.

—————–

  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours

——————

Finally, when we get past this crisis — which we will — we will face a choice.

We can go back to the world as it was before or deal decisively with those issues that make us all unnecessarily vulnerable to crises.

Our roadmap is the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy.

Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face.

What the world needs now is solidarity.

With solidarity we can defeat the virus and build a better world.

Thousands of people working in the shadows of the Swiss economy lost their jobs overnight in March, as hotels, restaurants and families fired their undocumented cleaners and maids in response to a lockdown enforced by the central Swiss government.

Unable to draw on state support, most were then forced to rely on charity to survive. Ultimately, that demand led volunteers and city officials to set up a weekly food bank at the ice-hockey stadium near the river.

After years of attempting to infect animals, he announced that he had developed a means of protecting sheep against anthrax – by neutralising the virulence of baccilus anthracus and then injecting this into the animals – but few believed him. He was asked to prove his claim by a public demonstration, and immediately accept the challenge. Although there is agreement that Pasteur inoculated a number of animals with his vaccine on 31 May 1881, and the demonstration took place at a farmyard in Pouilly le Fort near Melun, France on 2nd June, different accounts have related the numbers, and species of animals used.

Choose the civilizing way…

Research shows that the presence of trust brings a wellspring of positive outcomes: Communities with a strong sense of trust are better able to respond to crises.1 Trust is associated with stronger economic growth,2 increased innovation,3 greater stability,4 and better health outcomes.5

  1. 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Meanwhile, citizens of Europe’s high-trust countries have had it relatively easy. Germany has had little confrontational policing. The Netherlands implemented what it terms an “intelligent lockdown”, closing schools and restaurants but allowing socialising with up to three visitors. There are no limits on circulating outdoors other than staying 1.5 metres apart. Mark Rutte, the prime minister, says people are “treated as adults, not as children”.

As for Sweden, it has no lockdown at all. Schools and restaurants are open, though citizens are advised to avoid non-essential travel. “We use the phrase ‘freedom under responsibility’,” says Lars Tragardh, a Swedish historian. On Mr Hale’s index Sweden and Germany were the only eu countries that never reached maximum stringency.

The Swedes and Dutch are following government recommendations: mobility is down by about 40%, according to Google data. But in France and Italy it is down about 80%. Worryingly, Dutch and Swedish covid-19 mortality rates outstrip those in neighbouring countries. The Dutch death rate per head is almost four times that in Germany. Sweden’s is double that in Denmark, which has a tight lockdown.

This suggests that during epidemics trust is a double-edged sword. High-trust countries will probably do better economically, as they usually do. But in public-health terms, high trust may have lulled Dutch and Swedes into a false sense of security. For now, most are satisfied with their governments’ responses. But so are most Romanians. Perhaps that will help to close Europe’s trust gap. ■

Copyright © 2020 Neil Buhne

Closing Hymn #134 Our World is One World
Words & Music: Cecily Taylor, 1930- , © 1988 Stainer & Bell, Ltd., all rights reserved, used by perm. Of
Galaxy Music Corporation
Music arr. by Richard Graves, 1926- , © 1988 Stainer & Bell, Ltd.
CHERNOBYL

Interpreted by Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert and Sandra Hunt from the Unitarian Church of Montreal (Lyrics in the videos description – click “Show More”)


Cross-Canada Service (17 May, 2020)

May 28th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

On May 17, 2020, about 1000 Unitarian Universalists joined in a virtual service shared across the country, and beyond. It was hosted by the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax and the Canadian Unitarian Council.

Watch and edited recording:

One Storm – Many Ships
Cross-Canada Service (17 May, 2020)


June 2020 Newsletter

May 28th, 2020 . by William Baylis

Click here and enjoy!


The Special Time

May 24th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #63 Spring Has Now Unwrapped the Flowers
Words: Piae Cantiones, 1582
~)-| Music: Thomas Benjamin, 1940- , © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association
Tune BLACKBURN

Performed by:
Choir Director – Mike Menefee
Brian Kenny – Piano
Vocals and Vocal arrangement – Alena Hemingway
For Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship during COVID19 closure

1 Spring has now unwrapped the flowers, day is fast reviving,
life in all her growing powers t’ward the light is striving.
Gone the iron touch of cold, winter time and frost time,
seedlings working through the mold now make up for lost time.

2 Herb and plant that, winter long, slumbered at their leisure,
now be stirring green and strong, find in growth their pleasure.
All the world with beauty fills, gold the green enhancing;
flowers make glee among the hills, set the meadows dancing.



Time for All Ages – Planting & Gardening

One activity that folks do both for paid work and as a hobby is gardening. Here is an introduction to the basics of plant growth

How Does A Seed Become a Plant? – SciShow Kids

And here is a fuller description by a young gardener, on how she grew her own salad!

How to Start a Garden | Gardening for Kids
by Samiah Rose Knows



Meditation on Joys & Sorrows
In this unusual time, it is easy to find ourselves wrapped up into the larger story of the Pandemic, and with good reason. Covid-19 has infected over a million people, killed hundreds of thousands, and affected the lives, livelihoods, homes of billions.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives. Some of these other stories may be related to the pandemic, while others might not be directly connected to it.

As we think about our own stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration, I will mention some stories from around the world, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

This week, we keep the people of Pakistan in mind, as a plane crash has resulted in the deaths of 97 people. There are at two survivors. We keep our thoughts with the dead, the living, and with all mourners.

At the same time, there is space for rejoicing tonight, which is Eid al-Fitr, when Muslims around the world and in our neighbourhoods share in a ritual breaking of the fast at the end of the month of Ramadan.

Rev. Karen Fraser Gitlitz, from the Saskatoon Unitarians, shared this message of hope as a response to vandalism to several churches in Saskatoon, which had homophobic graffiti scrawled on them earlier this month. This video was made in collaboration with folks from Anglican and United churches, which were also affected, to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

There is a soothing song about halfway through the video!

message of hope 2020 – Saskatoon Unitarians – 10:56





Meditation Hymn #108 My Life Flows On in Endless Song
W: Traditional, Verse 3 by Doris Plenn
M: Robert Lowry, 1826-1899
Tune SINGING

Sung by Rivers of Grass Unitarian Universalist Congregation Choir




Offering
Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

Our treasurer, Helen Moore, has offered to receive your donations by mail, sent either to the Church address, or to her home. Details are in our Newsletter.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic. Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”. When in doubt, ask someone who you trust. Let us take care of each other!



Hymn #204 Come, O Sabbath Day
Words: After Gustav Gottheil, 1827-1903
Music: A. W. Binder, 1895-1966
Tune SABBATH

Tune performed by Cantor Erik Contzius, produced by the Society of Classical Reform Judaism

1 Come, O Sabbath day and bring
peace and healing on thy wing:
and to every weary one
let a word of blessing come:
thou shalt rest.
Thou shalt rest.

2 Welcome Sabbath! Let depart
Ev’ry care of troubled heart.
Now the daily task is done,
let a word of comfort come:
thou shalt rest.
Thou shalt rest.

3 Work and sorrow cast away!
Sabbath is for prayer and play.
With the rising of the sun,
let a cheering message come:
thou shalt rest.
Thou shalt rest.




Sermon – The Special Time – Rev. Rod

Watch:

Read:

[Download print-ready PDF document]

If you ever talk to someone who lived in Cuba in the early 1990s, and they happen to share some of their story with you, you might hear something about a time called “The Special Period”.

This is the time soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Cuba lost much foreign economic support. The years 1992 to 1994 were the most markedly difficult for the Cuban population, with shortages of food, fuel, and infrastructure.

The official name for this time in Cuban history is “The Special Period in Time of Peace”. A perhaps cynical view of this name might be that it is a euphemism for a difficult and challenging time, when livelihoods and lives were at stake. I see a good deal of truth to that. And I also suppose that the significance of that time in history also reflects its status as “special”, since it marked significant shifts in Cuban society, its politics and economics, as well as its culture.

Among the many outcomes of The Special Period, was a significant shift in agriculture, as the sugar cash crop became less useful, and the country diversified to more fruits and vegetables, as well as methods that were less reliant on industrial agriculture techniques. The economy also shifted, with wider foreign partnerships, and renewed interest in its tourism industry. Ingenuity came about, out of necessity, and people figured out ways to collaborate in order to get to work, grow food, and stay in community.

It’d probably be inappropriate for me to assess whether the net effect of this time was positive or negative. While many of the shifts were helpful to a recovery that was less reliant on one major benefactor, it came at considerable cost to individuals’ quality of life, and major social unrest. There are mixed views on how The Special Period affected the population’s health – malnutrition left many people susceptible to diseases… at the same time, the diversification of food production, and a shift from a meat-heavy diet to one higher on fibre and complex carbohydrates, also appears to have led to drops in diet-related ailments, including type-2 diabetes and heart disease. This, of course, is inconclusive.


Now, I don’t know if we’ll call the current time we’re living through something other than “The 2020 Pandemic”. I’ve seen a few candidates around. Some folks are talking about “The Great Quarantine”, or “The Great Pause”. Over the past couple months, I’ve sometimes made the case for something like “The Great Revelation”, as we find an enhanced awareness of important issues in our time, which have become more sharply visible and more evidently critical. I don’t know that we’d call it “The Special Period”, but I suppose that, whatever we end up calling it, it may indeed qualify as a “special time”.


One of the more elusive effects of this special time has been the phenomenon that many people are having trouble keeping track of time. The calendars and clocks still work just fine, but our perception of time can often feel warped, as many of our routines have been disrupted. Sometimes, it can feel like time is both going slower and faster than usual, all at the same time. Any day of the week can easily become “Blurnsday the something of Maypril”.

And this can be true whether or not you find yourself having paid work at this particular time. If you find that you have… an excess of leisure, one day can easily meld into another, with a sense that time is still… until a month suddenly goes by. And if you’re currently in paid work, it is possible that the routine looks different, especially if you’re working from home, when it’s difficult to tell apart work and home spaces. A few weeks ago, I shared a video that offers some tools to help with that, but I want to go a bit deeper today.

Many monastic traditions have ways of keeping time in addition to clocks and calendars – using ways to embody time by giving each part of the day different meaning through specific activities. Since medieval times, what are called “books of hours” stipulated prayers for certain times of day, and each monastic order would have other duties during the day by which members could participate in the life of a monastery or convent. These ranged from cooking, to transcribing texts, to carpentry and masonry, to artwork, or from gardening and planting, to making cheese, or brewing beer.

Many of you have taken part in some kind of similar activity, either as your paid work, or as a way to unwind. Perhaps the most important aspect here is that those times can each be made special, either by what that activity offers others, or by what it offers you.

Now, setting aside the monastic model, there is an even more ancient tradition about making time special. In the Hebrew bible – the Tanakh – we find the tradition of the sabbath. In the Jewish tradition, that is counted from what is now Friday evening into the daylight hours of Saturday.

In the early Christian church, the sabbath got shifted to a day that commemorated the account of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth – Sunday. And the commandment remained – to rest and feast. The feasting aspect is so engrained that, for those who observe Lent, it is not permissible to fast on Sunday – each Sunday is a “mini Easter” when fasting is not permitted, and feasting is the rule (if you’ve ever noticed that there are more than 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, that is why – Sundays don’t count in the fast).

The meaning of the sabbath is both simple, and perplexing. The commandment is very straightforward: “Thou shalt rest”. But it starts getting tricky when we try to figure out: “what is rest?”

Even in biblical times there were disputes as to what constitutes “work” and what counts as “rest”. In the tradition of rabbinical debates, we might see questions on how to categorize something as work and something as rest. And in the New Testament, there are stories where the followers of Jesus are challenged by religious authorities in relation to contravening the sabbath. I won’t list the specific answers here, they’re not always clear, but the important part is that the conversation is ongoing.

So, for those of you who may currently have… what feels like an abundance of rest, it might be difficult to figure out how to sabbath.

Well, if we stay with the biblical source for a bit longer, we get some clues. Part of resting on the sabbath includes a provision for worship. Now, in our specific circumstances, the meaning of worship can sometimes have broad meanings, but I find it helpful to think of it as a time to consider – and give due regard – to what is most important… our values, our relationships, our communities. Things that are sacred, things that are special. A sabbath can be a special time to nurture our spirits.

So, if your current “problem” is that you have too much rest, then seeking a sabbath can mean finding ways to… take a rest from rest. Or perhaps finding a difference between leisure time and rest for the sake of renewal. That can mean seeking, and maybe even finding, activities that nurture your sense of what is special. Some of them might have affinity to the monastic examples I mentioned: gardening, cooking, reading or writing. I suspect you may have your own ideas of what is important to you and what might work as sabbath-ing.

And if you have an opposite situation, where paid work is there, or may have even increased, then seeking sabbath is, of course, just as important. Finding some time to do something other than your work, is a way toward a larger wholesomeness. It may mean having some time to get groceries, or connecting with family and friends. It could mean a hobby, another kind of work that is not your paid work, but a personal passion. It could mean finding time to play.

One of the things that strikes me from the different possibilities of sabbath-ing is the need to find a special time to let go of some responsibilities for a while, or perhaps take a shift in responsibilities. It could mean changing focus from the self to others, or from others to oneself. This might sound selfish, though, as I have observed before, I think it’s more useful to think of it as self-full – which is to say, finding a way to feel more wholesome, so we may better serve ourselves and each other.

Now, having a whole day – a sabbath day – is helpful, because it allows a good deal of time… special time, to really get into something that feels like rest – whatever that may be. But some of your lifestyles, or chosen professions, or other circumstances, might not allow for something as seemingly-indulgent as a whole day.

My friends, sabbath can still find a way. There is something we can call “sabbath moments” – special times that we can take throughout the day. Most kinds of work allow for breaks, and meal times. These can be sabbath moments. Or that hour or two after work, to watch that favourite show, or make a call, or devote to something that helps bring a larger wholesomeness to your being – that can also be a way of doing sabbath. The practice of meditation, is a way of bringing sabbath in discrete moments, with every breath.

Muslims have daily prayer practices, several times a day – times to take a break from whatever else is going on, and considering what is most important. And there are larger times that are also made special. As the month of Ramadan comes to a close tonight, that special time is also celebrated with the feasting of Eid – a time marked by the sighting of a crescent moon.

My friends, how you find, and how you seek special time, will be your own task to figure out, and carry out. And yes, finding rest can sometimes feel like work, and it is work well worth it – a responsibility for ourselves and others. For in finding the special time, we can allow ourselves to feel the deeper meaning of time.

So may it be,
In Solidarity,
Amen

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano Quesnel


Closing Hymn #113 Where Is Our Holy Church?
W: Edwin Henry Wilson, 1898-1993 ~)-| © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association
M: Genevan psalter, 1551, adapt. By William Crotch, 1775-1847
Tune ST. MICHAEL

Performed by the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church


The Time to Plant a Tree

May 11th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #409 Sleep, My Child

~)-|W: Adapt. by Alicia S. Carpenter, 1930- , © 1990 Alicia S. Carpenter
M: Welsh melody, c. 1784
AR HYD Y NOS 8.4.8.4.8.8.8.4

(Original Welsh and English lyrics interpreted by harpist Siobhan Owen)


Time for All Ages – Liberation of the Netherlands – Canadian Heritage Minute

On the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, a new Canadian Heritage Minute was created to commemorate the Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian forces.

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

In this unusual time, it is easy to find ourselves wrapped up into the larger story of the Pandemic, and with good reason. Covid-19 has infected over a million people, killed hundreds of thousands, and affected the lives, livelihoods, homes of billions.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives. Some of these other stories may be related to the pandemic, while others might not be directly connected to it.

As we think about our own stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration, I will mention some stories from around the world, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

This week, we keep the people of Andrha Pradesh, India, in mind, as a chemical leak from an LG Plant has killed at least 13 people and injured thousands of others. The incident has eerie parallels with the chemical leak in Bhopal in 1984.

Closer to home we share in the grief of another shooting incident in our country.

This Sunday is also Mother’s Day in many countries. Mother’s Day can be a time for celebration for many, and it may also be painful time for others. As we recognize the contributions of mothers around the world, we also keep in mind all for whom this time is complicated, sometimes in ways that are not easy to express.


Meditation Hymn #177 Sakura

~)-| Words: Japanese folk song. English words by Edwin Markham, 1852-1940
Music: Japanese folks song
SAKURA 6.7.7.7.7.6.6.

(Interpreted by Karen Miller)

#UUA & #CUC #Olinda #SundayService #Music for #Meditation: It is Spring time and time to reflect on the beauty of…

Posted by Karen Andersen Miller on Sunday, May 10, 2020




Offering

Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

Our treasurer, Helen Moore, has offered to receive your donations by mail, sent either to the Church address, or to her home. Details are in our Newsletter.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic. Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”. When in doubt, ask someone who you trust. Let us take care of each other!



Reading – “The Old Man and the Fig Tree” – Talmud

In this a Talmudic story of an old man planting a new fig tree, we get interesting answers to the question of when it’s best to plant

https://www.uexpress.com/tell-me-a-story/2016/3/27/lesson-of-the-figs-a-tale


Sermon – The Time to Plant a Tree – Rev. Rod

Watch:

Read:
[Print-ready PDF available for Download]

There’s an expression used on the internet to describe when someone appears to speak modestly about themselves – maybe even in a self-deprecating way – even though they’re actually drawing attention to something that they’re proud of. This is called a “humblebrag”.

I’m going to share a bit about myself in a way that may sound like a humblebrag, but I hope is more of the opposite – something that sounds like I’m showing off, but is actually meant as an illustration of humility… a “brag-humble”?

I have shared before about my workout routine – a simple regime of four body weight exercises, and some running in place, where the only equipment required is a floor – and since I have a floor at home this works out fine (and if you’re curious, the source of this is a 1960’s booklet called The Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness – it was a hand-me-down from my mom).

Now the reason that I’ve shared about this isn’t so that you can marvel at how fit your minister is, but to illustrate the fact that I started this by doing only a few repetitions – or reps – per day, maybe just a couple times a week at the beginning, and I gradually built myself up to dozens of reps, several times a week, over several weeks and months.

This is the lesson of “eating the chair”, whereby small, incremental steps lead to considerable progress over time – a story that I shared some months ago, in which a couple of college students ate a chair over several months, by filing it into sawdust with a rasp, and adding the dust to their salads and cereal, until they ate the whole chair… for kicks, and extra credit on their summer philosophy paper.

But there’s a hidden truth to this reality. Not only did this kind of workout routine that I… “brag” about build up from a few reps to a longer, more vigorous workout over time… but that small start also had to begin at some point. There was a time when I hadn’t exercised for a long time, and it sometimes felt like I had missed the boat. It took a conscious decision to start, knowing that, with a few reps at a time, I might not see any visible benefits to the routine for some time. The RCAF’s Fitness Guide even has an exhortation: Do not Delay! Start Today!

And there’s an even hidden-er truth to this, because I have actually fallen off of the workout wagon… several times. Maybe I’ve gotten sick and have had to take a break, or been travelling, or felt I was too busy with something else. And I’ve had to start again, incrementally.

And with that, I’ve found that one of the hardest things of starting, or starting again, is battling with the regret of having missed out on that time when I could have been doing that which I thought was good for me or for those around me. That deceptive regret that seems to whisper that there’s no use to doing anything now since we haven’t done it anyway – and what use will it be now?

Last week, I mentioned Pastor Charleen’s reflection that “comparison is the thief of joy”. She was mainly talking about when we compare ourselves to others, but it also applies to when we compare ourselves to ourselves. Be this comparing ourselves to our past selves, or to a self we wish we had been – and sometimes these are the toughest comparisons we make.

In the Talmud, there is a story of an old man planting a fig tree, and when the emperor sees him do this, the emperor asks the old man why he would plant a tree, since it’d be unlikely he’d have a chance to eat its fruit – the emperor tells him: “The time to plant it was in your youth”.

The old man gives a few answers – for one thing, he’s used to working and sees no need to stop, also… who knows? maybe he’ll just live a bit longer and taste the tree’s fruit after all. And in any case, even if he’s not around to taste the fruit of the tree, he’ll gladly leave it to his son, just as his father left him the fruits of his labour.

The story of the old man and the fig tree is sometimes summarized in the saying: the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago – the second best time is now.

The best time to have healthy habits is last year, or twenty years ago, or as a teen, or as a kid, or whenever it was that we weren’t doing it. The second best time is now. And with that approach, a lot is possible. A solid second best is much better than other alternatives, and that is good enough.

Now, this isn’t a Public Service Announcement to make you converts to The Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness. Your situation, abilities, and personal goals will be different, but I imagine there are some things you wish you had started before, and would still like to carry out, but wonder if it’s really worth it. The lessons of the second best time to plant apply throughout.

When the pandemic was declared, and shelter-in-place orders kept us from meeting in person, I remember feeling regret that I hadn’t already secured a Zoom account for the church. But that regret wasn’t going to be very helpful in allowing us to continue our community with other options.

I was also blessed by having already had some experience using this platform as a Trustee on the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Board, which has been meeting on Zoom for several years. The seeds that had been planted by them, gave me some confidence in learning to host Zoom for our community of faith. This includes an ongoing learning curve, which you are now sharing with me, as we explore how this tool can help us reach all who wish to be part of it.

And that is another lesson from the story of the Old Man and the Fig Tree. A humility in recognizing that, what we have now comes from trees and seeds planted long ago, by people who we no longer have around, or by people we have never even met or heard about. And some of what we’re doing today will become seeds for others to harvest.

This week was a landmark commemoration of Victory in Europe Day… and depending on how you count the signing of the treaty, the anniversary was this past Friday (May 8) or on Saturday (May 9). And the heritage of war is always a complicated one, comprising seeds and scars.

One thing that we can say with confidence, is that our world would not be what it is today, were it not for the many acts that were carried out by millions of people during the time of the Second World War, from resistance fighters in Europe, to soldiers and other service personnel, to engineers, and people at home, seeking to support each other, offering the abundance of themselves in times of scarcity. Many seeds were sown then, and very often, we benefit from the fruit of those trees that some of us had no hand in planting.

Today is also a recognition of a major demographic in society – mothers. This too can be a complicated day, including many seeds, and sometimes, scars.

One thing we can say is that our lives would not be what they are today, were it not for the work of mothers, and parents of many genders, who have offered of themselves in raising children throughout the world. Often nurturing generations, not just for their benefit, but for the benefit of the generations afterward. Many seeds have been sown by our ancestors, and very often we eat from the fruit of trees that we have had no hand in planting. And seeds we are sowing today, will impact generations to come – regardless of whether we see their fruits or not.

These days, we’ve been exploring ways to make our church more accessible, and for folks to be part of it in different ways, through different media. And we plant these seeds with the backing of the seeds that were planted in 1880 and 1881 by our church founders, Big Mike Fox, and the blessed company that teamed up with him.

And in our wider community, there are also some discussions, or actions, that have taken the backseat for some time, and are now coming into sharper focus, especially because their absence is being felt more strongly at a time of crisis, like this one.

Matters such as poverty, homelessness, food security, work safety standards, migrant worker’s rights, a robust healthcare system, science literacy, environmental awareness.

Many of these are conversations where we might sometimes feel like we missed the boat… where it might feel like we really should have gotten our ducks in a row, like, yesterday, or last year, or back in the twentieth century.

And yet, my friends, we are better off seeking swifter and stronger action on these issues now, than if we stayed wallowing on the fact that we might not have been as active before.

In fact, my friends, this may well be an opportune time to make a stronger case, as the effects of inaction are more clearly visible. Many people who might not have felt affected by these issues, now see them closer to their home, or even affecting them, illustrating how what touches one affects us all.

My friends, as we look for ways in which we may find healthier ways of being at home, healthier ways of being in community, and healthier ways of connecting with our wider world, let us be mindful of that deceptive regret that comes with not having engaged before, remembering that now is a fine time to recognize what is possible. Though we may be long overdue, we can always start anew.

So may it be.
In Solidarity,
Amen

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano Quesnel

Closing Hymn #151 I Wish I Knew How

W & M: Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas,
~)-| arr. by Mary Allen Walden, 1946-1997, © 1992 UUA
MANDELA 11.11.11.6.6.6.6

(Interpreted by Nina Simone)


Hold

May 3rd, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #123 Spirit of Life

W & M: Carolyn McDade, 1935 © 1981 Carolyn McDade
~)-| harmony by Grace Lewis-McLaren, 1939- , © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association
(Tune “Spirit of Life”)

Interpreted by the Orange County Unitarian Universalist Choir

Reflections for All Ages

The question exploration forum Quora offers community offerings around the question: “What are some examples in life of when less is more?”

Click here to see a diversity of answers:

https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-examples-in-life-of-when-less-is-more

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

In this unusual time, it is easy to find ourselves wrapped up into the larger story of the Pandemic, and with good reason.  Covid-19 has infected over a million people, killed hundreds of thousands, and affected the lives, livelihoods, homes of billions.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives.  Some of these other stories may be related to the pandemic, while others might not be directly connected to it.

As we think about our own stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration, I will mention a couple of stories from

This week we keep members of the Canadian military in mind, as they face the news of a helicopter crash that killed 6 service members in the Mediterranean Sea last Wednesday.And in the month of May, we are also recognize many days that invite us to contemplate special observations.

  • May 1st was the spring festival time of May Day, as well as International Workers’ Day
  • May 2nd was Astronomy Day
  • May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day
  • Tomorrow, folks in certain Fantasy and Science Fiction fandoms may proclaim “May the 4th Be With You”
  • And on Tuesday it’ll be Cinco de Mayo, a date whose historical significance in Mexico and the United States is complex, and we’ve talked about before.

Meditation Tune #295 Sing Out Praises for the Journey

~)-| W: Mark M. DeWolfe, 1953-1988,
~)-| M: rev. by Joyce Painter Rice, © 1991 UUA
Music: Henry Purcell, 1659-1695
(Tune “Westminster Abbey”)

Instrumental of Westminster Abbey tune interpreted by organist John Pellowe

Offering

Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

Our treasurer, Helen Moore, has offered to receive your donations by mail, sent either to the Church address, or to her home.  Details are in our Newsletter.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic.  Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”.  When in doubt, ask someone who you trust.  Let us take care of each other!

Video Reading – Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You – CGP Grey

CGP Grey is a YouTube creator, and he is among one of the most recognized in the educational category.  His animated videos span a range of topics, and his latest one, just released last Thursday, speaks to some of the practical considerations while staying at home, in isolation.

In his video, Grey uses a spaceship metaphor for our home’s “bubble” – a space isolated from the rest of the planet.  What to do with this space, and this time?  His answer is to find a single mission: “Return better than you left”.

Reading – Covidevotional April 28, 2020 by Pastor Charleen Jongejan Harder (North Leamington United Mennonite Church)

Pastor Charleen Jongejan Harder shares her ministry with two other pastors at the North Leamington United Mennonite Church.  This week, she posted a “Covidevotional” reflection for April 28, and she gave me permission to share it with you as one of our readings.

In her reflection, Pastor Charleen also draws inspiration and quotes from her sister-in-law Kimberly Jongejan from Northglenn Colorado, who is a director of community programming and youth theatre in Northglenn, in the greater Denver area.

She reflects:

Comparison is the thief of joy. I’ve been heard to say that when we compare ourselves with others, we often find ourselves comparing our weakness with another’s strengths. I’m a pretty scatterbrained person, by nature. I start more tasks than I finish, by far. There are times I look with envy at the planners and organizers in my life. If I were more like them, I muse, my kids would have no gaps in their education, our home would be spotless, we would have listened to every episode of my favourite podcasts… and so on. It must be nice.

Comparison.. And its companions envy and jealousy, has always been a human weakness. Think of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel, Saul and David – even the prodigal son and his jealous elder brother.

My sister-in-law Kim posted a raw post last week that I’ve been mulling over ever since. I won’t quote it all, but she basically retraced our steps through the quarantine – out of the gate, we were all shocked. Some jumped into action, some were paralyzed. Over time, some have slowed pace, been slammed by grief, shut down. Others have hyped up the pace. Add to this, the distorted view that the online world can provide.

There’s a sense of who’s doing this quarantine thing the best? We’re looking at other people’s golden moments on our phone while our own failures are staring us in the face. The dirty dishes, the squabbling kids, the great ideas still on the shelf. And there’s a bit of an online competition for emerging the best out of this. Compare, compare, compare. Compete, compete, compete. She urged us to give up on the hyper-focus on others’ achievements and focus on what brings us joy.

Early this month a meme that personally digs: If you don’t come out of this quarantine with either 1. a new skill 2. Starting what you’ve been putting off (like a new business) or 3. More knowledge [ – ] you never lacked the time, you lacked discipline. (attributed to Jeremy Haynes, April 2, 2020 Twitter). This sparked a huge conversation (and dozens of counter-memes) about how much we can expect of ourselves in this season of pandemic. The truth is, many of us are struggling, most of us won’t produce our best work in this season, and many of us will emerge in great need of healing. This is true whether we are working parents juggling at-home learning for kids, or single people facing long days alone and almost 6-7 weeks since their last hug.

More from my sister-in-law Kim: “Instead, picture it like this: are you squinting hard at what you’re seeing in this hyper-focus world, trying to absorb, adapt, incorporate or even contribute to everything? That’s just going to give you migraines and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Instead put on some glasses. Ones that filter out the blurriness and focus on the nuggets that feed your soul – not drain it. Laugh at the silly dogs. Cry for the burdened. Tackle a craft or try a new recipe. But ONLY if it will feed your joy.”

There’s no road map for this. But please, my friends, look at the path that is before you, and do not try to hike someone else’s trail. Don’t compare yourselves poorly to others, and especially don’t judge others who are coping differently from you. Instead, let us cheer one another on, with words of encouragement; and let us be encouraged in our own journey. Even if today’s not going great. Perhaps especially then. The journey is long. God is with us. So are God’s people throughout the ages.

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”

Not someone else’s race.

This is the wisdom from our kindred in faith.

Sermon – Hold – Rev. Rod

PDF for download here

Watch:

Read:

I am not a financial advisor, but I’ve sat on the boards of several faith-based not-for profits, some of which hold endowment funds, and these are subject to stock market volatility.

And I’ve seen the question that inevitably comes up when there’s a downturn in the market – what to do with the funds?

And the inevitable answer from financial advisors is very consistent and very concise – “Hold”.

Given the choice, they say, the best thing you can do is nothing.  Don’t sell, or sell as little as possible.

In some cases, they concede that there may be a need to convert a portion to extra cash reserves and service some immediate needs, but for the most part – just hold.  The most effective thing you can do, most advisors maintain, is to do as little as possible.

Now each situation is different, and I must stress this again, I am not a financial advisor.  But I am a spiritual leader, and I find it oddly comforting when such distinct disciplines can overlap on similarly simple, yet complexly counterintuitive insights.

For months now, I have occasionally invited us to sit in stillness during worship.  And I do this as a practice in doing more by doing less.  Being able to take a few moments to acknowledge ourselves, by recognizing the spirit of life that goes into every breath we take – and holding some stillness, can sometimes be a more effective way of building self-awareness, than doing a lot of active self-actualization.

I also know that that is not always what works for all of you, and there are other ways to stay in touch with ourselves, singing, cooking, exercising, searching deep conversations with dear ones, playing, studying.  These too can be forms of meditation, especially when done with a certain intentionality.

Perhaps one of the things that many of the practices that help build selfhood have in common, is that they invite one to affect what one can actually affect – nothing more.

And as we wrap up 7 weeks of enhanced physical distancing between us, the question of what we can affect can become especially sharp.

The last 7 weeks may have felt rather long – “March was a very long year” I have heard folks say.  And April was a longer one.

And in this time, we are still left with uncertainty about what happens next.  Some things seem like they’re being primed for opening – in a limited way.  Other things, like in-person worship, seem likely to still take several weeks, or quite possibly… months.

Rather than a sprint, this race is looking more like a marathon, or perhaps a relay-race.

And amid this uncertainty, the most consistent and concise request has been… to hold.  To hold on, just a while longer.

It is a counterintuitive ask, especially when there seems like there’s so much to do.  And yet, we are being invited to follow the wisdom, that we may be able to do more for others, by doing less.  Or at least, by doing less of what we might usually do outside.

And while indoors, it can be quite easy to find a preoccupation on how others are doing – and wondering if we’re doing quarantine right… or perhaps more often, wondering if others are doing quarantine better than us.

Pastor Charleen Jongejan Harder, from North Leamington United Mennonite Church, challenges this premise – “comparison is the thief of joy”, she proclaims in her Covidevotional reflection for April 28, 2020.

Now, she’s not talking about the kind of comparison that helps better understanding, like the “compare and contrast” that we do in an English Lit assignment.  What Pastor Charleen is warning against is the comparison that gets easily paired with jealousy and envy, by which we unnecessarily measure ourselves against those around us, and instead of finding support or inspiration in them, we use their examples as reasons to undermine our own worth, and the value that we offer to others by being us, letting our inherent worth and dignity get obscured by an unhelpful focus on others’ ways of being themselves.

There is a video by the YouTube creator CGP Grey, called “Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You”, and he offers another set of tools.  A kind of homework – quite literally – to set our limited space in the most effective way, so that we may be ourselves, as much as possible, during this time.  It does not require a lot of work – just mindful work.

Hold your sleeping space with reverence, sanctify some space for physical activity, celebrate your space and times of relaxation, and all of this is a creative enterprise that may in turn give you space to create when you need to.

At first glance, Pastor Charleen’s Covidevotional reflection, and CGP Grey’s advice may seem to be at odds with each other.  Pastor Charleen seems to imply that we shouldn’t feel caught up in the pressures of competition and feel compelled to do something that we’re not up for, while CGP Grey talks about “Lockdown Productivity”.

Like many things, I find that both messages complement the other, offering slightly different dimensions to our shared situation.  In essence, they both offer a common mission to be better to oneself and better as oneself.  CGP Grey phrases it as a mission to come back better than before, while Pastor Charleen emphasizes that this mission need not be hampered by unnecessary comparisons to others – if there’s a race, it is your race… no one else’s.

As much as Grey talks about the mission of self-improvement, he never suggests improvement against anyone else, only one’s own ability to take care of oneself – both for the sake of one’s own wellbeing, as well as the possibility to contribute to the outside world… if not now, then at some point.

When speaking about acts of creation, Grey suggests these can be just about anything that you’re good at, or are interested in getting better at, or even something that you need to do to look after yourself.  Cooking, crafting, studying, work – if that’s something you can do at home.  Pastor Charleen would add minding your children or your family.  Affect what you are able to affect – that’s all.  The mission of being better than before, is yours – no one else’s.

Grey also acknowledges that there will be times when the mission flounders – that’s to be expected, and berating oneself about it is less helpful than looking to continue on the mission.

And I suspect the mission’s greatest value probably lies in its aspiration, rather than the specific result.  As Pastor Charleen observes, “The truth is, many of us are struggling, most of us won’t produce our best work in this season, and many of us will emerge in great need of healing.”  And still, with the mission in mind to keep us focused, we may avoid coming out worse off… or at least, having avoided the worse outcomes.

And, my friends, these options are more desirable than their alternatives – the lesson of the mission remains: affect what you can; there is little use in affecting what we cannot.  Comparing ourselves to others, in the company of jealousy and envy, leads to little growth.  While a mission to keep mindful of ourselves, of our needs, of our reasonable actions, may well bring us to a deeper sense of meaning.

My friends, to hold on to what is good, we may let go of the extra work involved in seeking to do what we cannot.  This is the counterintuitive wisdom of being more effective by doing less, when what we do, we do mindfully.

My friends, minding ourselves – being more mindful of ourselves – is far from being selfish… it is being self-full.  It is a way of serving ourselves well so that we may sustainably be of better service to humanity.  So that we may hold each other better, as we hold on for yet another while.

So may it be.
In Solidarity
Amen

Closing Hymn – #348 Guide My Feet

Words: Traditional
Music: Spiritual from the collection of Willis Laurence James, 1900-1966
harmony by Wendell Whalum, 1932-
(Tune guide my feet)

Interpreted by Oasis Chorale

1 Guide my feet while I run this race.
Guide my feet while I run this race.
Guide my feet while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain! (race in vain!)

2 Hold my hand while I run this race.
Hold my hand while I run this race.
Hold my hand while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain! (race in vain!)

3 Stand by me while I run this race.
Stand by me while I run this race.
Stand by me while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain! (race in vain!)

4 Search my heart while I run this race.
Search my heart while I run this race.
Search my heart while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain! (race in vain!)