Ministers Column Novermber 2018

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for November is Memory. Like so many of our themes, memory is a vast topic. So where to begin?

The first words that came to mind for me are from a reading in our hymnal by the Rev. Bill Schulz. It’s an invitation to worship: “Come into this place of memory / and let its history warm your soul.” Given that 2019 is our congregation’s 50th anniversary year, we’re going to be reflecting on our UUS:E and our Unitarian Universalist history. We’ll be peering back, remembering where we’ve been, where we’ve come from. We’ll be recalling our founding generations. We’ll be celebrating their commitment to our liberal faith, and to our specific religious home at 153 West Vernon St. in Manchester. I am confident this remembering will warm our souls, as Schulz suggests.

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All good worship leads to remembering. We live in the midst of a dominant culture that is toxic to memory, a dominant culture that wants us to forget what has happened and what is happening around us; a dominant culture that wants us to squirrel ourselves away in front of screens, wants us to focus exclusively on our material lives, wants us to drift apart from our neighbors. Good worship counters these dynamics by reminding us of our highest values, our most passionate aspirations, our deepest commitments, and how we are connected. Good worship reminds us of what matters most in our lives. We need such reminders to meet the challenges presented to us by the dominant culture.

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I found this quote posted on the UU resources site, “Soul Matters:”

The space of memory is elusive. Mysterious. Seemingly beyond our grasp. Who can really say “where” it is? But here’s what we do know: it is in the space of memory that we are somehow held together, and also re-assembled. As we remember, we are re-membered. In that space, memories become these self-animated threads that weave the pieces and parts of us into this more complete thing we call “me” and “you.”

These words remind me of much of the research on how people heal from trauma. Healing often requires that the survivor remembers what happened, and is then able to express the memory to therapists, family, friends, religious community, etc.—people who are able to listen, support, and honor their experience. Such remembering is difficult for the survivor. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. It is difficult for the community that holds them. Sometimes the community turns away. But this remembering and naming is a path to healing.

In late September it was painful to witness the national turmoil over Christine Blasey Ford’s memories of sexual assault at the hands of now Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. The situation forced many people to relive painful memories of sexual violence and trauma. Mindful of how difficult this national moment was for so many people, I plan to preach about it on November 11. I say, let’s be part of the healing!

Further, on November 20, we are invited to participate in Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) at the Metropolitan Community Church in Hartford (see the announcement in this newsletter). TDOR is a global observance that remembers transgender people who’ve been murdered because of their gender identity or expression. It is a solemn occasion, yet one filled with hope for a more just and humane future. This is yet another way people of faith use memory in the service of healing.

With love,Rev. Joshua Pawelek

—Rev. Josh

Ministers Column October 2018

Dear Ones:

Our October ministry theme is sanctuary. We’ve been talking a lot about sanctuary as the peace of mind and physical protection we expect to offer to people seeking to avoid deportation—and, of course, we will continue to talk about it that way. But I also think it’s important to explore sanctuary in all its meanings. I’m mindful that we often refer to our main meeting hall at UUS:E as “the sanctuary.” I’m mindful that we sometimes refer to those “joys and sorrows that remain unspoken in the sanctuaries of our hearts.” I’m mindful that for so many members and friends of UUS:E, our meetinghouse and our congregational community offer sanctuary from the stresses of a chaotic nation and world, from the rush and crush of busy lives, from the everyday anxieties we carry with us. A sanctuary is a place of safety and protection, a place of retreat and reflection, a place of beauty and creation.

UUS:E is a sanctuary for all of us.

My colleague, the Rev. Angela Herrera, writes: “All that you need / for a deep and comforting peace to grow / lies within you. / Once it is in your heart / let it spread into your life, / let it pour from your life into the world – / and once it is in the world, / let it shine upon all beings.” These words appear in Rev. Herrera’s 2012 meditation manual, Reaching for the Sun. They speak to me about the value of a sanctuary like UUS:E. Indeed, I think of UUS:E as a place where each of us can peer within and find what we need for a “deep and comforting peace to grow.” (Find that place in you, where you may go, when you yearn for peace.) And I think of UUS:E as a place that encourages us to pour the peace in our hearts out into the world—to “let it shine on all beings.” (That place from which you reach out to others who are suffering.)

How has UUS:E been a sanctuary for you? Has it provided refuge at a time in your life when you were vulnerable? Has it offered direction at a time in your life when you felt aimless? Has it offered solidarity at a time when you needed to not face life alone? In a culture whose values skew toward the material, the technological and the crass, has UUS:E helped you raise your children to value spirituality, human connection and love? I’m not just asking a rhetorical question. I really want to know your answers. Please share with me how you’ve experienced UUS:E as a sanctuary. You can email me at revpawelek@gmail.com or call at 860-652-8961.

And then there is the question many of you have asked: When will UUS:E provide sanctuary to a person seeking to avoid deportation? The truth is, we don’t know. We’ve been “on alert” three times since we voted to become a sanctuary congregation in May. But in each case, the person or family in question was able to resolve their legal issues and remain in the United States. Still, we know from news reports that people are being deported in record numbers. While we actually shouldn’t want to ever have to offer this kind of sanctuary, now that we’ve made it known we are ready, it’s only a matter of time before someone in profound need will accept our offer. I wish we didn’t live in a world where congregations had to make such offers. But since we do live in such a world, I am proud that we are ready.

With love,

—Rev. Josh

Minister’s Column July 2018

Dear Ones:

As I prepare for my summer vacation and study leave, there’s a part of me that’s already very excited for the next congregational year. As many of you are aware, January 2019 marks UUS:E’s 50th anniversary. The Policy Board, the Sunday Services Committee, the Endowment Committee, the Memorial Garden Trustees, and many others are beginning to think about how we can turn this anniversary into a meaningful, yearlong celebration. To that end, we need a team of people who can oversee work on the details. Who is interested in being part of the 50th Anniversary Team? It will be fun. Please let me or our President, Rob Stolzman, or our incoming Vice President, Kevin Holian-Borgnis, know if you would like to be part of this effort.

While it is always helpful to review the past, a milestone anniversary year really calls us to pause and look back, to honor our founders, to celebrate the generations. Thus, in the coming year, we will tells stories about what UUS:E was like in the different decades. We will definitely hold a big, multigenerational party. I am sure we will do some special fundraising. However, the most important thing we can reflect on is the nature of the impact UUS:E has had on us and on the larger community. What difference have we made in people’s lives? What would we be like—and what would Manchester and Greater Hartford be like—if that dedicated group of individuals had not come together in the late 1960s to found a Unitarian Universalist congregation east of the Connecticut River?

If we can put words to the difference UUS:E has made in our lives and in the life of the larger community, then perhaps we can also imagine having an even greater impact over the next fifty years!

At the very least, you can expect to be asked, in any number of ways, these kinds of questions: What has been the impact of UUS:E on your life? What do you remember most from the time you first started attending Sunday services at UUS:E, whether at 153 W. Vernon St. or one of the earlier locations? What do you wish for the future of UUS:E?

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Now, believe it or not, there is another milestone we may need to celebrate next year. April 2019 is the 20th anniversary of my ordination into the Unitarian Universalist Ministry. Thus, I expect I’ll be doing a significant amount of reflecting on where I’ve been, how I’ve grown, and the impact I believe I have had on UUS:E, on our region, and on Unitarian Universalism. I look forward to this period of historical review.

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For now, summer is beginning. Please know I will be traveling with my family and my in-laws to Italy for two weeks in early July. I will continue my vacation and study leave when I return. I will be back at UUS:E to preach on August 5th. Then, as always, I will start slowly returning to regular ministry in mid-August. I wish for you a wonderful summer. I wish for you summer rest and relaxation. I wish for you quality time with family and friends. I wish for you adventures—whatever adventures you need to have. And I cannot wait to hear about them in September!

With love,

–Rev. Josh

June Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for June is restlessness. I’d like to offer an excerpt from one of my meditations in Hear the Earth Call entitled, “Beyond the Safety of Our Well-worn Paths.” I think it speaks to an inherent restlessness in each of us—a restlessness that often surfaces in summer.

In this summer season / may we journey beyond the safety of our well-worn paths, / beyond our customs and habits, / beyond the comfort of our regular lives.

In this summer season / may we discover new creativity, new fervor, new insight; / may we discover in ourselves the spirit of the child that knows no limits and no boundaries, / the child who, every day, imagines the impossible / and sets off to achieve it.

In this summer season, /may we explore the borders of our lives, / the edges and the unformed spaces, / the wildernesses / the still wild places.

In this summer season, / may we establish new patterns where we have been longing for different ways of being, / new paths to go places our old paths will not take us.

In this summer season / may we discard old customs and habits if they have dulled our senses, / silenced our voice, / hidden our truth, / cooled our passions.

In this summer season / may we challenge ourselves to overcome any unnecessary limits we’ve set for ourselves, / to break through any unnecessary lines we have drawn around ourselves, to transgress any boundaries we’ve set for ourselves.

In this summer season / May we explore the borders or our lives, / where difference is welcome, / where tension and conflict are welcome, / where even a small dose of chaos is welcome, / where, in the midst of all of it, wisdom grows / and creativity thrives.

In this summer season, / may we explore the borders of our lives, / where nothing is quite as fixed as we’d assumed, / where old orthodoxies fail, / where order is tentative, / where simple dualisms just don’t work, / where pointless rigidities are the butt of jokes, / where mixing and merging and morphing take place, / where old selves give way and new selves emerge. / where we are compelled to find common ground with our neighbors, / where we build, however we can, the beloved community, where we remember—because sometimes we forget—that we are related to the whole of life.

In this summer season / May we / journey, / discover, / create, / practice, / discard, / break through. / transgress, / challenge, / explore, / and remember.

Amen and blessed be.

I know there is much to worry about in the world these days. I know there is much that weighs on all our hearts. It is my fondest hope that in this coming summer season, you find time to feed your restlessness—to be the person you feel called to be.

With love,

–Rev. Josh

May Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

At the UUS:E annual meeting on May 20 at 1:00, the Policy Board will ask the congregation to approve the following vision statement:

Unitarian Universalist Society: East will be home to a spiritually alive, richly diverse and growing congregation. We will send forth energy, spirit and strength into our beloved communities. We will love, be present to suffering, comfort, heal, bear witness to oppression, and boldly work toward social and environmental justice.

I want to express my gratitude to Anne Carr, Tammy Stolzman, Rhona Cohen and David Garnes who crafted the original drafts of this statement. Moreover, I want to express my gratitude to our UUS:E leadership team, who met in September for a day of visioning with UUA consultant, Jacki Shanti.

I also want to remind all of us that at the heart of our visioning process was a commitment to countering white supremacy within Unitarian Universalism. For a brief reminder of the way white supremacy operates within Unitarian Universalism, please see my sermon from May 7, 2017, “White Supremacy Teach-In” at http://uuse.org/white-supremacy-teach-in/. That sermon pointed out how the voices of People of Color remain largely on the margins of Unitarian Universalist institutional life. After I preached that sermon, someone asked about our visioning process. “If a group of mostly white people crafts a vision for the future of our mostly white congregation, and if the voices of People of Color remain on the margins of, or are absent from, that process, then what prevents our vision statement from perpetuating white supremacy?” It was a fabulous question.

In response, we invited five People of Color leaders from Hartford and Manchester to speak to our UUS:E leadership team about their vision for the region, and the role they feel UUS:E can play in achieving that vision. We crafted our proposed vision statement in response to the voices of People of Color leaders. We “centered” People of Color voices.

I love the finished product. I love it not only because we used an explicitly anti-racist process to create it; but also because it says “we will love.” This language came from Pamela Moore Selders, a founder of Moral Monday CT and a Black Lives Matter leader. On the evening before our visioning session, she challenged us to first and foremost love ourselves—to take pride in ourselves, to care about each other, to celebrate each other. She’s right. If we envision ourselves bringing love into the wider community, we need to begin by cultivating a deep and profound love among ourselves. That’s a vision that makes my heart sing!

Spiritually alive, richly diverse and growing? That, too, is a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

Sending forth energy, spirit and strength into our beloved communities? That’s a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

We will love, be present to suffering, comfort, heal, bear witness to oppression, and boldly work toward social and environmental justice. That’s a vision that makes my heart sing! There are actions we can take to achieve this vision.

I hope your heart sings too!Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

–Rev. Josh

April Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

I want to share my learnings from the March 18th “On Being a Sanctuary Congregation” presentation by the Rev. Paul Fleck, along with members of the UU Church of Meriden and First and Summerfield Methodist Church, New Haven. It was a powerful and inspiring presentation, attended not only by UUS:E members and friends but also by members of at least three other local congregations.

First, I learned about the urgent need to provide sanctuary, especially in our region where no congregation is yet doing so. Deportations have increased dramatically in the last year. Most discouragingly, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now deporting people who don’t have criminal convictions; who have minor children who are U.S. citizens; who are primary breadwinners for or caregivers to family members who are citizens; who are married to citizens; who have been living and working in the U.S., paying taxes, and contributing to their communities for decades; or who came to the U.S. to escape ecological disaster or political or gang persecution in their home countries. The federal government’s treatment of such people is immoral and disgraceful. As a Unitarian Universalist who affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and justice, equity and compassion in human relations, I can no longer tolerate witnessing this escalation in deportations, this breaking apart of families, this returning innocent people to extreme poverty, hardship, and even death. If we, as the Unitarian Universalist Society: East, can help such people avoid deportation, I am convinced we should do it.

And I am convinced we can do it! Why? First, our building is incredibly well-suited for this purpose. We have a shower, laundry facilities, 2 kitchens, 6 bathrooms, and lots of rooms. Wherever we might house someone, it would be slightly disruptive to the normal flow of our congregational life; but it would be a small price to pay for living out our principles.

Second, we can set clear parameters around the terms of our sanctuary offer. This is not an open-ended housing arrangement. It is only a last resort for someone who is about to be deported. If we offer sanctuary to an individual or family, we can (and truly must) confirm that they have competent legal counsel and that we are providing housing only while they have active legal options in progress. If their legal options become exhausted, then they would be forced to leave the country. They would not stay with us in perpetuity.

Third, we won’t be in this effort alone. There are a number of networks providing support and funding for immigrants facing deportation. Already, the leaders of United for a Safe and Inclusive Community, Manchester, have pledged their support for UUS:E if we choose to go this route. Participants in the March 18th presentation said they were overwhelmed with the outpouring of community support and funding. The UU Church of Meriden is projecting a surplus of sanctuary funds once their current guests have resolved their legal issues.

Finally, the Meriden and New Haven congregations said they have found sanctuary work to be life- and faith-affirming. They have made new connections in their communities, including with the police, and their congregations feel alive and inspired.

Of course, this is a congregational decision. The Policy Board is currently discerning next steps. It is likely we will establish a Sanctuary Committee that will be responsible for creating a plan that can be quickly executed in the event we are called on to offer sanctuary. If you are interested in working with such a committee, please let me know. Also, I am very interested in hearing the opinions of people who have reservations about becoming a sanctuary congregation, and I welcome your feedback at revpawelek@gmail.com or 860-652-8961.Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

–Rev. Josh

March Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our annual appeal begins in March. For those of you who are new to Unitarian Universalist Society: East, the Annual Appeal is our opportunity to reflect on the value of UUS:E in our lives and to make a corresponding financial pledge for the coming fiscal year. Because the vast majority of our operating funds come from the financial gifts of members and friends, this is the most significant fundraiser in the life of our congregation. I urge all of you to begin thinking about the role UUS:E plays in your life. Then, if you haven’t done so already, please sign up for one of the Annual Appeal potluck dinners. (Sign-up sheets will be available following Sunday services in March.) And as always, if a steward contacts you to meet about your pledge, please respond to them as soon as possible. They are volunteers and we deeply appreciate their work on behalf of our congregation’s financial health.

As in every new year, there are many factors that drive increases in our proposed budget—changes in insurance, cost-of-living adjustments for our staff, and expansion of our programs, to name just a few. This year the UUS:E Growth Team, the Policy Board, and I are all in agreement that it’s time for UUS:E to hire a part-time Membership Coordinator (MC). MCs are staff members who are responsible for tracking visitors to UUS:E and helping them discern whether membership is right for them. MCs also help foster engagement of members and friends in congregational activities such as small group ministries, circle groups, adult religious education, social justice work, etc. Many UU congregations around the country who have hired MCs report not only increases in membership and financial giving, but increases in spiritual growth among members. Of course, there is a cost associated with such a hire. It’s always risky to try to increase the size of a church staff. But I feel strongly this is a risk worth taking—a spirit-filled risk!

I’m not the only one who feels this way. This year, a group of members who also feel very committed to reaching this goal have established a challenge fund. For any member or friend who increases their annual pledge from anywhere between 5% and 10%, the fund will match an amount equal to your increase. I deeply appreciate the generosity of these members, and I hope you’ll take them up on their offer!

Here’s my challenge: The tenth person who sends me a note at revpawelek@gmail.com, or leaves me a message at 860-652-8961 and tells me 1) three things they love about UUS:E, and 2) that they are increasing their pledge by at least 5%—that person will get a breakfast, lunch or dinner on me!

There are so many good things happening at UUS:E. We’re actively exploring what it means to become a Sanctuary Congregation. We’re actively exploring joining a new Greater Hartford interfaith coalition. We’re taking very intentional steps to improve our emergency management procedures and make our building safe. We’re formally establishing a UUS:E concert series. We’re crafting a new vision statement. Please take seriously the question: “What does UUS:E mean to you?” And please make as generous a pledge as possible for the coming year.

With love,

–Rev. Josh

February Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

My four-month sabbatical is winding down. The sabbatical has been a very positive experience for me, and I want to express my deep gratitude to you, the members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Society: East, for providing this opportunity to me. In particular, I’d like to thank the members of the Policy Board and Program Council for their ongoing leadership during my absence—especially our new president, Rob Stolzman, and vice president, Sylvia Ounpuu. I’d like to thank the members of the Sunday Services and Pastoral Friends Committees—chaired by Lorry King and Patricia Wildes respectively—who’ve been covering my regular worship and pastoral duties since October. And I’d like to thank the UUS:E staff—Gina, Mary, Jane, Annie, and Emmy—who’ve been functioning with their usual excellence.

During my sabbatical, I continued writing the novel I started on my first sabbatical in 2007. While I have not been able to complete it to my satisfaction, I do expect to have a readable rough draft finished by the first week of February. Writing a novel is a very different discipline than writing sermons, meditations, prayers and newsletter columns. It requires different modes of thinking, feeling, imagining, planning, expressing and creating. It has been very important to me over the past four months to explore and practice these different modes. Having had this opportunity, I am hopeful that I am returning to ministry refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready to provide high-quality spiritual leadership to our thriving congregation.

When I return in February, I am looking forward first and foremost to being with all of you in person, reconnecting, and getting back to the daily and weekly tasks of ministry. I am also looking forward to establishing a new Humanist discussion group (the first meeting is Feb. 14, 4:30 PM in my office), updating UUS:E’s Safe Congregation policy in light of new best practices, working with the Policy Board to finalize UUS:E’s vision statement, working with the Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee to make UUS:E a charter member of a new, regional interfaith coalition, and hopefully adding a part-time Membership Coordinator to our staff.

I’d like to hear from you. First, if there has been a significant event or change in your life (family, career, health, etc.), please feel free to tell me about it. Contact me to make an appointment. Call me. Send me an email, text or Facebook message. My home office phone is still 860-652-8961. However, I have a new email address. My old address will work for a few more months, but the new address is revpawelek@gmail.com.

Second, in my last sermon before my sabbatical, I said that “the congregation has the opportunity to notice, by virtue of the minister’s absence, what it does well, what it does not do so well, where it excels, where it needs improvement.” I am genuinely curious to know whether you have had any insights along these lines. Specifically, are there ways we can do things differently, more effectively, more meaningfully? One thing I’ve come to understand about myself during this time is that trying new things in congregational ministry is important to me. As much as it is easy to do things the way we’ve always done them, I have always assumed that the ongoing experience of health, vitality, meaning, and purpose for the minister and for the congregation depends on a willingness to reinvent ourselves from time to time. Our primary ministries and our core values are more or less permanent, but how we do things must continually evolve. So, if you’ve had insights about how we might do things differently, I want to hear them!!

Rev. Joshua PawelekThat’s it for now. But there’s much more to come. I can’t wait to be with you at UUS:E!

With love,

–Rev. Josh

September Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

As summer begins to wind down, I begin my 15th year as the Unitarian Universalist Society: East’s minister. If I have my facts correct, I am now the congregation’s longest-serving minister in its 48-year history!

This congregational year will be different than usual in that I will be taking a long overdue sabbatical from October 2nd to February 3rd. During my sabbatical, I will be working on a novel that I started on my first sabbatical in 2007. My goal is to complete this novel, though writing fiction is so different from writing sermons, that I have no idea whether achieving this goal will actually be possible. I am very much looking forward to this project, and I cannot express enough my gratitude to the Policy Board and to the congregation for granting me this time.

Ministerial sabbaticals can be anxiety-producing for members and friends who rely on the minister’s presence, especially on Sunday mornings. Please know that the Sunday Services Committee is working with me to plan compelling, life-affirming worship services during my time away. Local UU ministers will be filling the pulpit on many Sundays. The Sunday Services Committee is a talented group of people, many of whom were on the committee during my last sabbatical. They know what to do! They will provide excellent services in my absence.

For pastoral crises that require ministerial presence, we will have a list of local UU (and possibly other) clergy who are available. In the event of a pending death or an actual death, I will certainly come away from my sabbatical to provide care and to conduct a memorial service. All the other regular caring activities performed by our Pastoral Friends Committee will continue without interruption during my sabbaticals.

If you have any questions or concerns about what happens at UUS:E when the minister is on sabbatical, please do not hesitate to contact me. I like to think we are taking care of every important detail, but you may have a question or concern we have not yet thought of. And whether or not we’ve thought of everything, UUS:E has strong leaders and a strong staff who function wonderfully whether I am present or not!

Despite my absence this fall, UUS:E is brimming over with activity and there are many exciting ventures, including our Youth Group “Experilearn” project, our congregational growth initiatives, work on our new congregational vision statement, and our discernment around what it means to be a “Sanctuary Congregation.” All of this is over and above our long-standing programs such as children’s religious education, adult religious education, music, sustainable living, membership, social justice, the holiday fair and much, much more.

When I return in February, I am looking forward to teaching courses on UU Humanism and UU Paganism, updating UUS:E’s Safe Congregation policy in light of new “best practices,” finalizing UUS:E’s vision statement, and hopefully adding a part-time Membership Coordinator to our staff.

As always, there is much more that lies ahead. For now, our annual season of Homecoming is here. Though our spiritual community never officially stops, we do say “welcome home” in September. So, WELCOME HOME friends! I hope you have a wonderful year at UUS:E.

With love,

–Rev. Josh

June Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

The following meditation, entitled “Cooling Down,” is adapted from our new publication, Hear the Earth Call.

Summer approaches in earnest. May’s cool, dry, sunny days give way to June’s drenching, muggy heat. We melt. We wither. We stick. We shrink. We welcome any rain, any breeze. We welcome an ice-cold drink of anything on these hot, humid June afternoons. Whatever cools us down we welcome: lemonade, ice cream, popsicles, freeze pops, Italian ice, gelato, sherbet, sorbet, swimming pools, fountains, sprinklers, shade, shadows, clouds, dusk, sunset, evening, vespers, twilight, night,

A life of the spirit is like this. So often our greatest spiritual insights, our greatest truths, those elements of human experience that link us to the sacred and the transcendent—love, beauty, sorrow, joy, suffering, death—so often they too inhabit the cool places, the dark places. So often we encounter them in the life- giving shade, the cooling rain, the gentle breeze, the roaring thunder, the darkening night, the deepening dream, the widening ocean, the quenching of our thirst. So often we encounter them not in the glaring light and blazing heat but in the cool, dark places where we perceive less with our minds and more with our hearts.

As summer approaches, as the temperature and humidity continue to rise, along with our anxieties about what things cost, about war, about violence, about the earth; as we welcome that which cools our bodies, may we also welcome that which soothes our spirits. In our moments of spiritual melting, withering, sticking and shrinking may we welcome, too, those insights, those truths, those sacred and transcendent experiences that provide respite from whatever wears us down and dries out our souls. May we welcome and drink in the deepest truths of our lives, like the sip of a cold glass of lemonade, out on the porch, as a cool evening breeze begins to whisper on a hot June night.

Hear the Earth Call is a collection of my nature writing, accompanied by the photography of Duffy Schade, and designed by Sharon Gresk. The first printing will be arriving soon. If you have not yet purchased a copy and would like to, please contact the Unitarian Universalist Society: East office. All proceeds from book sales go to Unitarian Universalist Society: East.

Our ministry theme for June is “journeys.” As summer approaches, as the heat and humidity rise, it is my hope and prayer that each of you, in the midst of whatever journey you are on, has the opportunity to pause and to find rest, respite, insight and wisdom in the cool places, in the afternoon shadows, the evening breeze, the silver night, the morning dew. May the coolness refresh you and make you ready to continue on your way

With Love, Rev. Josh