Archive for December, 2007

Happy Holidays!

December 20, 2007

It’s sunny and bright here in Minneapolis today. With a temperature in the 30’s [F], we expect to see snow melting into puddles. Later today and into tomorrow, however, the forecaster is telling us to expect a “wintry mix.” Those of you who live in the southern part of Prairie Star District know that a “wintry mix” means rain mixed with sleet mixed with snow, depending on fluxuations of temperature high in the atmosphere and down near the streets and sidewalks. Not fun, if you have places to go and people to see! Time to get out the Ice Melt!

Wherever you may live, and whatever kind of weather you’re expecting, I hope you’ll have some time for relaxation over the next two weeks — and  some time to reflect on your life and your values. We’re encouraged to think about mid-course corrections at this time of year, of course, by the prevalence of hints about making New Years Resolutions. And we don’t need to be limited to doing these assessments at this time of year, necessarily, but the beginning of a new calendar year does give us a good excuse to think about it.

So I’ll be spending some time with family, enjoying the energy of our grandchildren and adult children and their significant others, as well as my parents and my husband’s parents. I’ll also be thinking  and reflecting as I knit and as I walk [wintry mix or not!]. Are there things I want to work on, in the next year? Another spiritual practice to explore, besides the morning “family faces visualization” that I do regularly? The possibilities are out there, just waiting!

Happiness to you in the days ahead, and a good and fulfilling New Year, too!


A Companion for the Journey

December 13, 2007

Yesterday I attended the commencement ceremony for the CPE [Clinical Pastoral Education] students at Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis. Two Unitarian Universalists were recognized for their participation. Dawn Cooley is doing a year-long CPE residency at the Southdale hospital, and Rev. Ann Galloway-Egge is working toward certification as a supervisor for chaplaincy students.

The importance of the work of a chaplain came through loud and clear as Dawn and another student talked about their experiences working with patients. Having a companion for the journey through illness, old age, or the death of a loved one helps assure that someone is there to listen and to understand. And, perhaps, the patient and the family can gain some peace of mind or acceptance of their situation.

In Prairie Star District, we have more than twenty UU Community Ministers out in the world, doing the work of justice, chaplaincy, teaching.  Thanks to all for your good work!

A Story from the Past

December 11, 2007

Over the weekend, I attended services at First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, IA. It was quite a weekend! They were celebrating their 130th anniversary year, they were dedicating their newly renovated building, and they were asking members for financial gifts to continue the unfinished work from the project. Spirits were high, and the enthusiasm wasn’t dampened by the icy roads outside.

As part of the anniversary celebration, the service included the telling of some short vignettes from their history. This is, after all, a congregation that once had as its minister the Reverend Mary Augusta Safford, one of the Iowa Sisterhood!

The story that I loved, however, was the story that involved buttons. Yes, buttons! Here’s how it goes. After World War I, the Unity Circle [a women’s group that included but was not limited to members of the church] received notice that several thousand wool coats were in storage near Des Moines, new coats left over from the Army. The ladies were told that they could have the coats to be distributed to needy people. But there was one catch — all of the buttons on the coats — the buttons with the Army insignia — would have to be removed. What to do!?! Well, the ladies got busy. Through the newspaper, they let people in the area know about the project. Soon, packages of buttons were arriving from all over, some from as far away as Alabama. And soon, ladies from around Central Iowa arrived to start stripping buttons off and sewing new buttons on. In the end, more than 7,000 wool coats were shipped to Europe to meet the needs of people suffering from the cold. What a wonderful thing!

Are there interesting stories in your congregation’s past? Is someone recording them? Let’s give our future UUs something to marvel over, shall we?