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Friday, May 7, 2021

Rarely have I seen a spring so beautiful.

Even as we are learning more about this newest phase of drought, we are blessed to have the richness of spring around us. Such an explosion of colors and natural life is burgeoning all around us –it seems as if the natural world is reminding us of the persistence of life. The evenings feature the deepest of blues and the flowers have given us an abundance of blooms. Even as we grapple with the confusion familiarity and yet strangeness of this world we are in, this beauty is a great source of solace. Today as I was driving back to work, I had a close encounter with one of the peacocks who was sunning herself in the middle of Eckley Lane—the peacocks have been very vocal this week, their haunting cry both exhilarating and disturbing.

Perhaps this is how it is right now—life is giving us both gift and challenge. In that spirit, I offer these words from last week’s vespers service:

Amid the babble of beloved voices, can I hear my heart’s own song? In the flurry of reengagement, can I keep my commitments to myself? In the joy of connection, can I continue to be in touch with my own needs and wants? In the tangle of many wisdoms, can I keep my own counsel? In the midst of the crowd, can I hear my own heartbeat? In the busyness of a life emerging from the cocoon of isolation, can I hold onto the newly found friendship with myself? Can I keep the “I” in all the “opportuni-I-ties” that surround me? In my expansive view of possibilities, can I answer all these questions with a “yes”?

The natural order holds us in balance: Day and night, light and dark, rain and sun, wind and stillness. My natural rhythms sing in harmony: challenge and rest, companionship and solitude, taking in and giving out. The seasons of life, like the seasons of the year, teach me about the fertile and the fallow, the warm and the chill, the wet and the dry. The life all around me offers me the tools of solace: roots and wings, shadow and brightness, nourishment and excretion. Within the opportunities around us, we can choose what we take in and what we discard, what we embrace and put aside. We can honor the larger whole and our own full being of “I” within it which is the seed, the bloom and the leafing.

March 19, 2021

This week we have seen heartbreak and hope again and again.

The heartbreak continues as we hold beloveds undergoing health challenges in the embrace of our community. And the hope comes from that as well—the outpouring of cards and notes that can truly demonstrate how people can shower one another with love, even in these pandemic times.

And the heartbreak extended as we learned the details of a series of killings in Atlanta. The deaths in multiple locations of women of Korean-descent and others was intensified by the statements of police spokespersons who seemed to downplay the events. This on top of a rash of attacks on people of Asian descent which appear to be fueled by the anti-Chinese rhetoric which was a staple of our last president has left many among us feeling shaken and unsafe. With so much fear and anxiety, hope grows in our efforts to speak out for a different reality—in this case, sounding the faithful voice against hate as members of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County will do when they hold a short lunchtime vigil next Thursday (MDUUC will feature this on our Livestream link). People of good faith and compassion coming together to point out how we are all connected is always a source of hope.

We hold much anxiety and continued fear in these times when so many are still not vaccinated. Let us be grateful for hope among us.

Friday, March 12, 2021

This week, tragedy in our midst has reminded me never to take life for granted. As I waited outside the hospital, I made a point of appreciating the embracing warmth of the sun. As we were reminded of the fragility and preciousness of life, I felt myself inclined to reorder my days.

We would prefer to be unreminded. We would never wish the tragic upon ourselves and especially wish to keep it out of the realm of those we love. And yet, when it comes, it can sharpen our awareness of the small choices we make every day. And lead us to make different and more conscious ones.

I am always glad to belong to a faith that doesn’t believe that bad things happen for a reason or as some part of a grand plan…and I am also glad that we believe in our ever-present power to choose how we receive events into our lives.

Small comforts in small awarenesses.

Friday, March 5, 2021

As we mark a year of meeting virtually

It was a year ago that we realized that air hugs and elbow bumps, sanitizer, and coughing into our elbows were not going to be enough. A year ago we made the decision to be virtual for our services and to cancel other gatherings which we had planned. We knew we might be away from one another for what we expected to be an unprecedented long time—a month or maybe two or three. Many among us scoffed at the idea that it could be so long. And here we are, a year later.

We have much to mourn and much to celebrate, including the amazing resilience we have discovered within ourselves and our community. In that spirit, we offer this mediation, please take a few minutes and engage in this meditation

Leslies Logos – March 2021

I have only participated in a few long distance competitive events in my life. What I remember about them is that the last segments—be they miles or blocks—can be the hardest. By then the alert attentiveness and commitment to pacing one’s self has given way to exhaustion and weariness. Whatever plans, no matter how well-thought, have been subsumed by weariness and even awareness of the surroundings, even if the end setting is more beautiful are hard to even notice. Every once of energy is directed towards reaching that goal.

And so it is as we enter into what we all so fervently hope will be our last part of this pandemic time. We are tired with grief and loss, numbed by isolation and loneliness, desperate for a return to something that feels more enveloping. Even those of us who usually embrace the scientific may find ourselves cherry-picking for the data we wish to absorb and we also may ignore the efforts to keep us together and safe.

For these reasons, I am so grateful that we share in this community a covenant to value all of our lives and a knowledge that we are willing to wait so that when we are in person in these days to come, it can be with as many of us as possible in attendance. I am grateful that we are aware that we don’t emerge into the same community—not only because of those we have lost to death and relocation and a lack of technological resource—rather because we want and need different things from our community than we needed in early 2020.

As we enter into this time of reemergence, let’s make a spiritual practice of patience, let us bind ourselves to our ideals and treat one another hospitably, even if they share a different need than us. And let us allow ourselves to be awash in gratitude that we have navigated what we have.

In the spirit of reemergence,

Leslie

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