Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm not sick but.....

I have no voice to speak of (pun intended) and have withdrawn from our scheduled gig at Rockhoppers tonight. It just kills me to do this----performing is a major source of exhilaration for me and I love being part of Bayview Sound because these folks have become such good friends.

I felt a scratchy throat begin to develop on Thursday but ignored it until I went to the jam that night and found that the combination of a milky latte and scratchiness made it hard to stay on pitch or sing with any strength in my voice. Milk tends to do that to me---it was one of the unwritten laws of my college choir: don't drink milk at supper before a concert. And Thursday night it was clear that the combination had done me in.

It's very disconcerting to find a function of one's body suddenly untrustworthy. I've gotten used to the way my voice sounds in my ears; it's never been a problem to stay on pitch or to belt out a tune. But Thursday night was different, so I left early, came home and did the Neti-pot number and got out the Ricola.

Friday morning I was beginning to be dubious about whether Saturday night would find me recovered, but I went to the rehearsal in the afternoon because I was feeling less scratchy. I didn't sing at the rehearsal and came home early again. When I woke in the night with a very sore throat, I knew Saturday night's performance would not work for me.

This morning the guys are re-arranging the set list to cover for me and I'm feeling regretful but knowing I would not do myself any favors by trying to perform. I'd embarrass myself and not do the group any good either.

I heard Kris Kristofferson sing on the Colbert Report last night and he has clearly lost his voice. He sounded like I do right now, scratchy and off-key. I bet he was embarrassed too. I know just how I would feel in that situation. But voices come back if you take care of them, at least most of the time.

Guess I'll spend the day veging out and wishing I could sing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

There's a New Blog In Town!

This past weekend, Kari at Chalice Spark and I helped a group of interested folks create a new UU blog: Journey To the Center of the Blogosphere.

They'll be asking many questions about their own blogging journey and YOU might have the answers they need. Do come on over and comment, add your two cents worth, and know that you are helping to spread the word not only of blogging but of good will and peace on earth, which is, of course, the message of most religious thought.

Can we get a little UUpdates and DiscoverUU coverage for these newbies? Thanks, all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I don't do Lent.

Nor Advent. I do do Christmas and Easter. There is no real logic to this pattern, other than my religious heritage. I grew up an American Baptist preacher's kid in Oregon and we just didn't do Lent and Advent. We did do Christmas and Easter in a big way. So you won't find me wearing ashes today, though I certainly respect and love those who do. And I always forget to plan around Advent after Thanksgiving, though I try to give a nod to it sometime in December.

Baptists, at least back then and I don't think it has changed, were not much into ceremony, though we did have our essential sacred rituals. We did baptism, which was a full-length dunk into a baptistry only big enough to accommodate the baptizer and the baptizee's height. I remember my 6'6" father, the Rev. Merritt B. Ketcham (in case anyone is googling him right now in hopes of discovering our genealogy), standing majestically in the baptistry, welcoming the next baptizee with an outstretched hand as that person carefully made his/her way down the steps into the water.

I was ever so proud of my dad during baptisms. He was big and strong and welcoming. I remember his welcoming every person who came down those steps into the water with him and I remember the smile on his face as he welcomed me, a child, into the baptismal water. But the moment I most loved was when he turned to face the congregation, as he stood in the baptistry water, lifted his arms in prayer, and said, in his sonorous voice, "And yet there is room".

(That memory gives me a lump in my throat even today and I've always wanted to use it in an illustration. Perhaps I will get my chance and you will find it in a sermon sometime.)

Another important sacred ritual for us Baptists was Communion. Notice I don't call it the Eucharist. For such plain-speaking folks as Baptists, "Eucharist" was a little high-minded and fancy. It was just a shared meal, for heaven's sake, a symbolic reminder of the Last Supper. Jesus probably thought of it as a Passover meal; it just happened to be the one immediately preceding his death.

I love Communion and I like to bring it to my congregation in various forms---Flower Communion, a Bread Communion, and others. But for me, Communion is also represented in congregational potlucks, the goodies someone brings to a board meeting, the refreshments during social hour, the animal crackers in the RE wing, a family meal or TGIF gathering or Happy Hour. It isn't fancy; it's real human sharing of food and drink at any time of year or day.

I'll be preaching on the UU Second Principle on March 8: "Justice, Equity, and Compassion in Human Relations". It seems to me that this principle says something about human sharing and welcome. Maybe I'll get a chance to reminisce about my Baptist days!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Joy spreads to Bainbridge Island...

I got a note tonight from my friend and colleague Jaco tenHove who, with his partner Barbara Wells, are inviting same sex couples on Bainbridge Island to be married without fee, by them and not just in 2009 but until all couples can be legally married. I may have to follow suit because I like the significance of the open ended offer.

Here's a link to the op ed piece Jaco and Barbara wrote for their newspaper; you'll find it here.

Here's an interesting piece from the NYT

One of my congregants alerted me to an essay in the New York Times which I find very thought-provoking and I would appreciate your thoughts on it. It's about the culture wars over the issues which divide us so badly: abortion and same sex marriage.

Here's the link.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Has Maxie Reformed?

Amazingly, when I got home today from the AGM and went into my bedroom, I found that nobody (aka Maxwelton) had peed on the bed or torn up kleenex or ripped off Loosy's ear or done anything bad that I could discover. Of course, he headed for tall timber once I let him out the door and I may not see him again till morning, but I don't have to clean up any messes!

My friend Donna thinks maybe he has reformed!

Review of the Annual General Meeting, aka AGM

My dear niece-in-law, Christina, asked me what AGM meant recently, so I need to be careful to spell out the alphabet soup stuff. Annual General Meeting is our UU district gathering, which happens yearly. For the two days before the AGM, we ministers have a short retreat as well, so I have been in Salem, Oregon, since Wednesday. Now it's Sunday morning and I 'm getting ready to go home, very joyfully!

It's not because this has been a bad experience; I just like to be at home rather than living out of a suitcase. But when I go away on professional stuff like this, I almost always get to room with my longtime friend Sue, and that's worth the price of admission right there. I haven't decided yet whether I"ll stay for worship at 10 a.m., because I am eager to get on the way home. I just know Max will have done something irritating---either to Loosy or the bed or the garbage can or something---which I will have to clean up before I go to bed, and I'd rather that was earlier rather than later.

Anyhow, this has been a good few days. In addition to the professional activities, Sue and I went to see some of the sights around Salem. We explored the Mission Mill museum and grounds a little bit and also rode on the carousel down in Riverfront Park, had a great lunch at McGrath's (oysters! yum!), and I even got over to Fred Meyer to pick up some Friskies cat food on sale, a lot cheaper than I can buy it on the island.

The retreat part was pretty much centered around telling the UUA candidates for prez what we feel the churches out here on the front lines need from the UUA. I am glad that they were interested. I'm also glad that both of them are from the West. I am alarmed by the divide between the Western churches and the East coast churches. Though the theology is the same, there seems to be a different energy on the western edge of the UUA, from the Rocky Mt. States, though including Texas, over to the coast. I understand it's similar in the South. Things are popping here, but less so in the East, though I'm sure there are exceptions to that.

There seems to be an attitude among the Easties at the UUA that small congregations aren't much worth bothering with and that big congregations should be our goal. Well, let me tell you, Whidbey Island will never be a big church. There simply aren't enough UU-types to fill the seats. There are many places out here where there needs to be a small church to serve the retired folks who have moved in, the families of telecommuters, and the longtime residents who need a spiritual community and are not served by the local offerings. And there isn't any other church for 50 or more miles. So small churches are a fact of life and the UUA needs to give us more support, rather than striving for huge churches.

Anyhow, the AGM itself has been good. Our keynoter was Bill Schultz, former president of Amnesty International, now retired and doing a lot of other similar stuff. He was a terrific speaker, gave me many new ideas for my own work.

Our workshop went so well and Kari and I were delighted with the turnout. And last night's banquet featured a playlet of the Scopes trial, with local actors using a script that was taken straight from the actual trial transcript. Great!

So today I'll be heading home, to clean up whatever mess Maxie has made and let him go outdoors for awhile. It will be good to be home. We have rehearsals all week for upcoming gigs and I need to be singing something besides hymns for awhile!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Resources from the workshop "Journey to the Center of the Blogosphere"

In our Annual General Meeting workshop today, Kari (of Chalice Spark) and I offered the following resources to our attendees and agreed to post them on each blog for folks to use. We started a new blog, entitled "Journey to the Center of the Blogosphere" during the workshop and hope that many of those who attended the workshop will contribute to that blog over the coming days and weeks.

Philocrites: Guide to UU Blogs

UUpdates: Blog aggregator

Discover UU: Blog aggregator

Interdependent Web: UU World web round up

Blogger: blog hosting

World Press: blog hosting

Live Journal: blog hosting

UUA Resource: Setting up a blog

UUA Resource: Best Practices for Blogging

We had a great group of interested folks---about 30!---who were full of questions and enthusiasm. Thanks to all of you who came to hear us blather on about how much fun blogging is and how important it has become in our lives! I hope you all have as much pleasure blogging as we are having.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Looking forward to our Winter Retreat and the Annual General Meeting

You wouldn't necessarily think that a district general meeting would be that much fun, but it always comes in February, about the time when I start getting cabin fever because of the chilly rainy weather, I'm missing my comrades in "arms" (or rather vestments), I'm wanting to kick back a bit and not worry about the next sermon coming up. Our district AGM (annual general meeting) is coming up this weekend and tomorrow is the first day of our UUMA winter retreat, all down in Salem, Oregon.

A colleague emailed me recently and asked me to help her with the music for tomorrow night's worship, which I'm glad to do. When we get together as colleagues, there is such a sense of relief and feeling of camaraderie and worship is always calming and joyous. We also have a tradition in our chapter of saying "yes" to requests from colleagues; our foremothers and forefathers in the PNWD have taught us to respond in this way as part of our own spiritual discipline and that's why I say yes as often as I can.

Our program on Thursday will be a chance to get acquainted with Peter Morales and Laurel Hallman, our candidates for UU president. I know both of them equally well and I see that they each bring certain gifts to the role. I haven't decided for sure who I will vote for---and it all depends on whether I actually make it to GA in SLC in June---but I am leaning toward Laurel. I think she has the depth and experience to be a good president. I like Peter however, and his thoughts about growth are intriguing. So we'll see .

On Friday, our chapter has its business meeting and later on in the afternoon, congregational delegates begin to arrive. That evening is the banner parade, always a stellar event, and the kickoff assembly.

Saturday is a full day of workshops. Chalice Spark Kari and I are doing a workshop on blogging. We intend to start a UU blog right on the spot, show our attendees how to contribute to it, and get it up and running so that they can have some hands-on practice. We only have an hour and fifteen minutes, so I'm not sure how far we'll get, but it will be fun to talk blogging with others.

William Schultz, formerly of Amnesty International, is our keynoter and I'm looking forward to hearing him speak. There's the requisite banquet and hoopla of awards that night, followed (usually) by a band and dancing.

Sunday morning we'll worship together and head for home. I'll probably be offline most of the time I'm there but may check in periodically. Miss me, 'kay?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How Proposal 2009 came to be: the story

Here's a link to the post I gave to Inspired Faith, Effective Action, the UUA's social justice blog.

Pix from last night's Pete Preview

Here's our motley crew singing for the Hearts and Hammers dinner last night.
Photos by Sharen Heath.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Higher than a Kite!

I'm just home from the Hearts and Hammers fundraiser dinner. This is a yearly event, always happening around Valentine's Day, when for $5 you can get a great spaghetti dinner, see all your friends from up and down the island, and support the cause of home repairs for needy folks on the island.

This year our Pete Seeger group was invited to sing for the edification of the diners, as a preview for our upcoming Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Bash on May 1. There were about eight of us with guitars, a mandolin, harmonica, piano, dobro, and accordion. We sang the Hammer Song, Where Have all the Flowers Gone, Union Maid, Sloop John B, We Shall Overcome, and This Land is Your Land.

Because the diners are coming and going all evening, we sang all of our songs several times, moving to various parts of the hall so that everyone could participate.

It was just great! If I can get ahold of some pictures, I'll post them. I am tired and yet wound up with adrenalin. People sang along with us, a couple of women got up and danced, everyone seemed to love it. So I'm hoping we'll have a wonderful turnout for our concert.

Tomorrow is a busy day, with a wedding at 11 a.m., a koffee klatch in Coupeville from 1-3, a wedding consult in Coupeville at 3, and then home to put my feet up and recover. Sunday is a Woodinville day, but that's easy, even with all the shopping I usually try to do on my way home.

Today has been a good day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Freedom to Marry Week

I'm pleased to be one of the folks blogging for the UUA's Social Justice Office this week; my offering to Freedom to Marry week will be published at the blog Inspired Faith, Effective Action on Saturday the 14th. The topic of that post will be our local project "Proposal 2009: Standing on the Side of Love" and how it came about.

But there's a backstory to that story. It goes back a long way, to the mid-70's, when I did not know that any of my friends or acquaintances were gay or lesbian, much less what it meant to be bisexual or transgender or intersex. I was a young mother at the time, married, a school counselor, pretty uninformed about a lot of issues, particularly this one.

One day I got a letter from a good friend from college. This is a paraphrase of her words: "Dear Kit, thanks for your note. I have been in a terrible car accident. Actually, it was no accident---I tried to kill myself by driving off the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland. Paramedics patched me up and got me to the hospital. It was touch and go for awhile, but I'll be okay. The reason I did it was, well, I have to be honest. I'm a lesbian but I hope we can still be friends."

That was my first awareness of the misery that being a closeted gay/lesbian person can bring. My friend had always been cheerful, funny, talented, smart. Now I was finding out that she had been faking it all the years I'd known her, that she was so desperately unhappy that she had attempted suicide in an effort to find peace.

Her situation opened my eyes to the injustice that bglt people can face in our fearful and bigoted world. Not long after this, I learned that two of my former school counselees were gay; I began to hear the words "so gay" and "faggot" used as insults and started correcting kids when they used these expressions. It became known around my junior high that "Ms. K" could be trusted and girls came to talk about their love for another girl; suicidal kids came to talk about their desperation and fear that they were gay. Bglt faculty members trusted me enough to be "out" with me about their relationships at a time when a gay teacher was considered a threat.

Out of that awakening in my life has grown a commitment to advocacy for sexual minorities. After I retired from school counseling and went on to seminary, I discovered the disparities between our UU belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the punitive and restrictive attitudes of many other mainline denominations. Only a few denominations have the freedom we do---to welcome bglt folks into our congregations, into the ministry, to perform weddings between same sex couples. And those who want that freedom find that church law and/or congregational attitudes prevent them from having it.

As a minister, I've actively politicked against anti-gay laws in Oregon, marched in Pride parades, married same sex couples, advocated for marriage equality with the legislature and preached about justice repeatedly. As a human being, I cherish my lesbian and gay friends and neighbors.

And in response to those who think that homosexuality is a bad thing, a punishable act, a way of living to be shunned and shamed, I want to ask this question: why would God create beings who are physically attracted to their own gender and then punish them by not allowing them to be the creation God made? All of creation is good and beautiful and deserves life. Every being has a place in the universe. Every being deserves to love and to be loved, to cherish and to be cherished, to be itself in all the glory that the Creator has given it.

Long ago a young girl talked to me about how ashamed she felt because she was attracted to girls, not boys. Her church and her parents were trying to force her into a mold that just didn't fit for her, telling her that she would go to hell if she didn't change. As her counselor, I couldn't tell her about my life-saving religion, but I could say to her, "honey, it's okay to be who you are. We need more love in this world, not less." I hope she heard me.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Bayview Sound at Rockhoppers

I've deleted the video of our concert at Rockhoppers because the picture and sound are too jumpy and blurry; the video stops for no apparent reason for several minutes. Just take my word for it---we done good.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Standing on the Side of Love: the sermon

Rev. Kit Ketcham, February 2009

Monday January 26 was an unusual day for me. It started out in a pretty ordinary way---I had to take my car into the Toyota dealer for some maintenance work and to get the rearview mirror replaced, an expensive proposition, all told, with ferry tickets adding to the total.

But they were going to give me a loaner car, since the work would take several hours, so I decided to make the best of it and see the Lucy exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, a display that I'd been wanting to explore ever since it came to town. "Lucy", as you may already know, is an exhibit of the archaeological discovery of ancient bones and artifacts dating back 3 million years.

When I arrived at the Science Center, I discovered that my fellow explorers of Lucy and her roots in Ethiopia were a noisy bunch of high school kids, which I followed around through the various displays, marveling once again at the many variations on the adolescent theme.

They were a nice bunch of kids though and I felt tolerant of their teenage behavior, though it was clear that rapt contemplation was not their forte. It was something, however, that I had been hoping for, so I quickly moved through the preliminary exhibits, past all the teenagers, and found myself eventually at the heart of the exhibit, a small, quiet room with one case in the middle of it.

It took me a moment to realize that in the case, carefully placed, were the actual fossilized bones of Lucy, the remains of the most ancient early human yet discovered. As I stood there and gazed down at those ancient relics, a recognizable skeletal human frame, I felt tears building behind my eyes and a lump in my throat.

This seemed a little odd at first and because I could hear the teenage rumble building behind me, I didn't linger long after marveling at the bones and at the replica of those bones which had been mounted in another case. Handing in my audio device to an attendant, I mentioned my surprising emotional response and she remarked that another woman had come through earlier and had burst into tears looking at the bones.

Sitting in the food court a little while later, I pulled out the newsprint article that accompanied my ticket to the exhibit and began to read more about Lucy. Gradually it dawned on me that what had moved me wasn't the scientific meaning of the discovery of her remains, it wasn't the evolutionary link that was forged by the discovery, it wasn't the majesty of the Ethiopian hills where she was found or the tenacity of the archeologists who dug her up.

The intensity of my emotional response came out of the realization that Lucy was a human being, like me. Like me, she had worried about how she would feed and clothe her child, whether her mate was a reliable provider, whether the dangers of the world would bring harm to herself and those she loved. She was too cold at times, too hot at times, too hungry at times, lonely and sleepy and angry and sad at times.

Like me she had wondered at the immensity of the sky, the moon, the stars, the sun, the weather, the natural patterns that provided structure to her life. Like me, she had wondered about how best to work with those patterns, how to use them to move through her days and her nights.

She had likely developed routines that used her knowledge of the natural world to survive. She may have tried to influence the natural world by treating it in special ways, with sacrifice, with nurture, with gratitude. She may have thought of the natural world as an entity which deserved to be worshipped and placated.

Absorbed in these thoughts, I left the food court and started back toward my parking place. Approaching the Space Needle, there in the middle of the Seattle Center, I noticed an elderly man sitting on a bench shaking a tambourine and singing. He had a paper cup out in front of him with a couple of dollar bills poking out.

I grimaced inwardly, thinking I would detour around him and not make eye contact. I wanted to stay in my thoughts about Lucy, not get sidetracked into issues of poverty or homelessness or whatever paying attention to this gentleman might mean.

As I got closer, fully intending to avoid connecting with him, I heard a man's voice say, as if to his child, "go ahead, honey, put the money in the cup" and saw a small child dart over to the cup with a dollar bill. And then, for reasons I still don't fully understand, I reached in my wallet, pulled out a fiver, placed it in the cup, and said, "can I sit and listen to you sing for awhile?"

He nodded and continued to play and sing: O Lord, I am so grateful; when I was lonely, you came to me, when I was sick, you healed me, when I was afraid, you comforted me; O Lord I am so thankful. Over and over he sang the same thing, shaking the tambourine, his eyes closed, and I started to kind of get in the groove of it all, nodding and swaying a bit myself. I also felt the tears pricking my eyelids and a lump in my throat. Why? I asked myself.

This guy's theology and mine were miles apart----in a way. We were philosophically different---in a way. We were economically different---in a way. We were racially different---in a way. And our theologies were similar---in another way; our philosophies similar---in another way. Economically we both struggled. Humanly, we were both tied to Lucy, our ancient sister.

Suddenly he stopped, stood up and started to preach. O Jesus, I love you, he preached; you've been so good to me, Lionel Lewis, you've given me strength and joy and love, you've told me to give the good news to others, you've given me a way of life that means the world to me, can I hear you say amen". Amen, I stuttered.

Again the tears behind my eyes and the whys in my head---Jesus had not been recognizably good to me--he was dead, after all--nor given me what he'd clearly given Lionel Lewis with his tambourine. But wait, something brought into my life goodness and strength and joy and love. Something told me to give the good news to others, something gave me a life that means the world to me. It might not be Jesus, but something was working in my life too.

In a bit of a daze, I said I had to go and stood up. Lionel Lewis, whose name now I will never forget, said to me as I turned to go, "Sister, you have been a blessing to me today and I thank you." And still in a daze, I replied, "Lionel Lewis, you have been a blessing to me today and I thank you." He held out his arms and I walked into them and we shared a long hug.

What does it mean, this story? Have you ever had such an experience? Let's pause for a few moments of silence and just let the stillness enter our hearts. No need to think, no need to do anything, just enjoy the silence.

As Effie and I were preparing the service for today, we spent some time talking about the various ways we use the word "Love", the various ways we think of the concept of Love.

There's romantic love, sexual love, love of family, love of friends. We love art and music, we love our pets, we love certain ideals, we love the natural world, many express love of God or Goddess.

We talk about unconditional love. We use the words Eros, Philia, Agape, those ancient Greek words that differentiate between physical love, familial and friendly love and perfect or ideal love.

We have been urged to "love our neighbors as ourselves" yet often view love of self as narcissistic and selfish. We often have no idea how to love God, for the whole concept of God can be so difficult.

We sometimes fear the responsibilities of loving and being loved, because sometimes another's love for us is engulfing or obsessive. So we may protect ourselves from this kind of love.

I don't know if you've ever been to summer camp, but we Camp Fire Girls had a favorite song we liked to sing at the nightly bonfires. "It's love, love, love that makes the world go round, it's love, love, love that makes the world go round…." The verses are a bit out of date, for we now know that it's not just boys, boys, boys that make the girls go round. It's often girls, girls, girls that make the girl go round. And boys often fall in love with other boys.

So there's another dimension added to our understandings of love, as we see longtime love relationships between our gay and lesbian friends, neighbors and family members. Our Proposal 2009: Standing on the Side of Love is our effort to acknowledge and honor those love relationships, and I'm very pleased about our doing this for our community.

But love goes way beyond the feelings we have for people, places, things, ideals. Let me re-read Effie's opening words, written by Brian Swimme in his book "The Universe is a Green Dragon".

"For the last few centuries…we have crippled many of our concepts and words. When we hear the word love, we think only in terms of human love, a very special sort of love. If we are going to think about love in its cosmic dimension, we must start with the universe as a whole. With the attraction that permeates the entire macrostructure---the allurement that all galaxies experience for all other galaxies…All communities of being are created in response to this mysterious alluring activity. Love is a word that points to this alluring activity in the cosmos which awakens the communities of atoms, galaxies, stars, families, nations, persons, ecosystems, oceans, and stellar systems. Love ignites being."

When she read this to me, it blew my mind! I remember learning in Sunday School that God is Love. It never occurred to me at that time to turn it around and say, "if God is Love, then Love must be God". That sure would have shifted any idea in my mind and about the old white guy in the sky reaching out a hand to Adam, as seen on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

For if Love is God, that makes perfect sense to me. Love is the Creator. Love is the instigator of growth. Love is the connector. Love is the everlasting force and is visible in relationships between people, between all animals, between trees and earth, between sky and sea. Love is not just poetry, an ideal, it is physical and metaphysical, a natural law with which we all live.

But we have squeezed the idea of love into a box; we use it sexually, manipulatively, commercially, guiltily. We see it as finite when it is infinite. We see it as limited, rather than limitless. We see it as scanty when it is abundant. We see it as coming and going, rather than omnipresent.

Perhaps there are not really many kinds of love. Perhaps there is really only one Love, with many, many words to describe it. Perhaps our vision of Love has been too small.

Long ago when I was in a 12-step program and asked to define my Higher Power, as I worked through the steps of recovery in AlAnon, I wasn't sure what I could call my Higher Power, since I had discarded long ago the idea of the old white guy in the sky.

My sponsor said that it was only necessary that I find something I could depend on which was stronger than I am. And after some thought, I settled on the natural force of gravity as my Higher Power. It controlled everything I did; I had to work with it in order to stay upright, in order to accomplish my daily tasks. I could not ignore it. It was good for me, as well, as it gave my legs and lungs a workout as I hiked up mountain trails, providing the resistance that made my legs and lungs stronger.

I could see, too, that most of the science I knew considered gravity a binding force in the universe, keeping planets and solar systems and even galaxies in their places in the cosmos. I figured I could count on gravity, that it would not go away.

It didn't occur to me to choose Love as my Higher Power at that point in my life, for I didn't see Love at that time as available to me all the time or infinitely or omnipresently. I saw it as finite, conditional, a feeling that was contingent on emotion and circumstances, not really unfailing. I didn't trust love at that time; my definition of love had let me down. But gravity! Gravity really works.

I checked out a definition of Gravity, to see if my intuitive understandings of gravity were accurate and I found this paragraph:

Gravitation is a natural phenomenon by which objects with mass attract one another.[1] In everyday life, gravitation is most commonly thought of as the agency which lends weight to objects with mass. Gravitation compels dispersed matter to coalesce, thus it accounts for the very existence of the Earth, the Sun, and most of the macroscopic objects in the universe. It is responsible for keeping the Earth and the other planets in their orbits around the Sun; for keeping the Moon in its orbit around the Earth, for the formation of tides; for convection (by which fluid flow occurs under the influence of a temperature gradient and gravity); for heating the interiors of forming stars and planets to very high temperatures; and for various other phenomena that we observe.

I'm beginning to think that gravity is just one of the words we use to describe Love, the Love that creates all being, the Love that is everlasting, infinite, omnipresent, the law that holds the universe together. I'm beginning to think that God is just one of those words too. I'm beginning to think that all the human words to describe Love are just our efforts to describe something we can barely measure.

Our Third Principle of Unitarian Universalism states that "we affirm and promote acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations". Another way to phrase it might be that "we promise to recognize and accept each other as creations of Love and that we encourage each other to use our Love to grow spiritually."

Can we expand our definition of Love to see it as the driving, coalescing, creative force in the Universe? Can we see it as that which has created all life, all beings, all things, which brings together disparate matter into communities of atoms, molecules, living creations of animals, trees, rocks, earth, stars, galaxies?

Can we see that Primary Force of Love in each other? in those we don't like? in those we don't know? in those we fear? Can we find that Primary Force of Love in ourselves? Can we see Love not as a feeling but as a generative, alluring, eternal force in the universe? And can we find, in that Love, a way to bring it to others?

On Feb. 12, we mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. In his theory of Evolution---and this next week is Evolution Week, in case you didn't know---Darwin started us thinking beyond the legends and myths of creation, got us considering a bigger story than we had heard before.

On that same date, we mark the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, surely another human being who started us thinking about a bigger story than we had heard before, turning our attention from the ways things had always been done to a new way of considering all human beings equal.

It's no coincidence, I think, that this week coming up is also Freedom to Marry Week, a week in which we celebrate another bigger story than we have heard before, in fact, the many stories of Love which transcend the standard one man/one woman story of attraction.

As we consider the idea of Love as the Primary Force in the Universe, Love as God, Love as Creator, Love as binder together of disparate matter, let us commit ourselves again to standing on the side of Love, not just for our gay and lesbian friends who want to be married in the eyes of the state but also for each of us and for our planet, for we have been created by love, we depend on love as we depend on gravity for our connections to each other. Let us stand on the side of Love forever and always.

Let's pause for a time of silent reflection and prayer.

BENEDICTION: Our worship service, our time of shaping worth together, is ended but our service to the world begins again as we leave this place. Let us go in peace, remembering that we are created by Love, we are bound together by Love, we have Love to give ourselves, each other, and the larger community. May we reach out in Love to each other, may we be gentle with ourselves, and may we find ways to offer our love to the world. Amen, Shalom, Salaam, and Blessed Be.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Standing on the Side of Love

Freedom to Marry week is coming up and I will be posting on the topic as part of the UUA's involvement. Here's a video that I think you'll like.

Monday, February 02, 2009

When Max decorates...

Can you tell I found something disgusting on the deck today? and yesterday? and the day before?

Suddenly a big frog in a small pond...

What an interesting few days it's been! On Saturday morning I walked down to the newspaper box near my mailbox to pick up the Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer papers, plus the local South Whidbey Record. I'd been interviewed and photographed on Thursday by their reporter and he'd guessed that the story would be printed on Saturday.

I opened the SWR and was astounded to find the Proposal 2009 story taking up about a third of the front page, with my grinning visage prominently displayed. I didn't expect to be front page news; I thought we would be discreetly placed more toward the middle. But there I was, standing in front of our new building grinning like a possum eating bumblebees.

Saturday morning is a time I look forward to because I like to head over to a local cafe and have breakfast. I walked into the cafe and the server/cook said immediately, "say, you're all over the front page of the paper this morning, aren't you? I think it's great what you're doing!"

The day kind of went like that, with one person or another mentioning the article and photo, all positively. Sunday morning the article was placed prominently on a bulletin board and again more mention.

Sunday night I attended a retirement reception for the former director of the Whidbey Institute and every other person seemed to be saying "hey, here's our local celebrity, we think it's great what you're doing". And one lesbian couple made arrangements to meet later to discuss their wedding and set a date.

No negative responses at all so far, though surely somebody must disagree with this! Even the guys in my lectionary study group were supportive, though they might not do it themselves, they approved of my doing it.

And this morning, our administrator let me know that she had received a phone message from a local merchant saying that he plans to give 20% off on wedding cakes to gay couples who decide to tie the knot. Is that cool or what?

I'm wondering what would happen to the resistance to marriage equality if all of us clergy who can do so worked with same sex couples to flood the country with the joy of weddings. Imagine if the newspapers were full of joyful families and couples celebrating their marriages regardless of whether or not they were "legal". Could anyone withstand all that joy?

See, I've always thought that Joy was going to be the deciding factor. Joy and Love...and Justice.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Proposal 2009 hits the boards

I was astonished to wake up yesterday morning and discover myself on the front page of the local newspaper, the South Whidbey Record. We are officially "outed" as a congregation now. Read all about it by clicking the "news" button at this webpage

Sorry I haven't been more active this week---we have been having rehearsals practically every day for our gig on Feb. 7 and, with everything else, there hasn't been any reflection time for blog posts.

The UUA connection with "Freedom to Marry" week has asked me to blog during that week of celebration, so I'm gestating a good post for them. But after today, I'll be less swamped.