skip to Main Content

Friday, February 12, 2021

Like the breeze that blows the seeds, scattering them to the winds on their journeys, we breathe out the dried things of bitter days past and present. Like the tree above the stream, dropping the old leaf onto the water’s surface so that the new can bud and unfurl, we breathe out the spent air we have held in fear so long. No matter if the air is the perfect temperature or if the soothing rain falls as much as we would like, each day provides the opportunities to step into a new frame, a new possibility, a new way of being alive. Breathe out the worn and depleted, the once-vital and now impoverished so that abundance can come again, in small gifts, returning one to a better world.

And as we await the new inhalation, may we stop to listen for the breath of the world which sounds as birdsong, as the laughter of children, as the good regard between neighbors. As we await the renewals of connections and company, may we pause to notice the strength we have come to know in our own hearts and put our hand on its pulse and rejoice. As we await the return to some of what is familiar and missed, may we remember how much we wish to savor all of it and do all we can to rest in the larger expansive love of the Divine. The pause is where we hear the voice of God, the more, the source of the relentless renewal of Life and Love.

Leslie’s Logos – February 2021

In my twenties, I spent a fair amount of time on boats. My neighbor had a catamaran, I soon acquired a canoe and later I became involved with a partner who was an avid photographer of coastal aviaries. In that last capacity, I spent time on powerboats and first saw a marine compass. This was a black dome with a needle floating in liquid—as if it were an extension of the watery expanses it helped us navigate. Unlike the little tin-and-needle compasses I had loved as a child, this one floated in many dimensions and allowed one to find the direction when the shore or the horizon was not evident—in times of fog or storm. The tippy, wobbly nature of the needle at first made me a little nervous—part of me didn’t want to recognize that the world could move on all those axises! Yet most of me was reassured by the bobbing red indicator which would keep telling us the right direction despite rolling waves and strong winds, rain, and storm.
Well, we are coming out of a time when we know that the world pivots in many ways. As I write this, the Governor just lifted the statewide Shelter-In-Place order and the staff and I will once again get to work on rethinking our programming for a new order—this time one in which businesses are understandably clamoring for reopening while medical personnel warn us of the need for continued vigilance.
As I thought about the upcoming staff meetings and the need to plan once more, I thought, with some weary gratitude, of the marine compass and its floating needle. This congregational community has shown its ability to be like that floating dial with its familiar markings, able to float on the winds of storm and change and still keep us pointed towards the world we wish to help co-create.
This last stretch of our pandemic journey may be the most challenging—we will have some privileged to be vaccinated and many not until the summer. Medical experts remind us still to take precautions and especially as some cannot be vaccinated because of underlying medical conditions, and many of us so eager to be back together. Yet I know these last gusty days will not swamp us because we know now how important it is to have this community and its ability to point us to true north.
Onward we sail. Onward we journey. Let us do so with the spirits of patience, resilience, love and possibility.
In the spirit of Love,
Leslie

We Take A Breath And The  Start Digging Out

When I was living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Hurricane Fran visited my neighborhood. Now hurricanes weren’t unusual in the Carolinas, even then, though climate change means they happen more now. What was unusual about Fran was that she came so far in-land, causing huge damage even though we were several hours from the coast. I remember the sounds of the wind, the driving hammer of the rain and, to further set nerves on edge, the SNAP of the multitude of trees. In the middle of the night, an even larger explosive break sounded—when the storm’s fury abated as the eye passed over us, I was able to see that the hundred-foot elm which was only about 20 feet from my bedroom had been taken down, falling with its length running the border of my large backyard. Had it fallen the other way, I might not have lived to write this. It took years, many chainsaws and a stump grinder before it was cleared and where the root ball had been we put in a small pond.

The thing is, that after realizing that we had narrowly escaped with our lives, we then had to survive the other side of the storm, which returned with winds, rain and tree-wrestling for several more hours. When the wind was just loud and the rain was just hard and the remaining trees seemed safe, we fell asleep, exhausted. In the morning, we were awakened by heat and humidity—the air conditioning to which we were accustomed in September wasn’t there and, in fact, it would be close to two weeks before we got power. We were glad to be alive, glad not to have had worst damage, stuck in our neighborhood for days because of all the trees across roads—and thoroughly beat.

I remembered that feeling this week as we emerged from the other side of a one-of-a-kind presidential inauguration. Glad, grateful and weary to the bone. Across the airwaves and in private conversations, people said two things:

“Whew, finally I can take a breath!”

And

“We have a lot of work to do.”

So this weekend, let’s take that breath so we can take up the work that is before us. Here is my wish for each of us:

For so long our breath has been captured, caught behind our tensions and our fears. So tonight, though our labors await soon, let us BREATHE. May our inhalation be deepened as we let go of some of our fears and anger. May our exhalation be a release of the overwhelming burdens to the heart, mind, and spirit which have so bound us in these last years. To amass a store of love and connection and true peace in the world will take our efforts in the coming days. Today may we take one breath for every sleepless night when we have laid awake worried, one for the unthinkable thought we have borne, and one for the affronts to the family of humanity. And one more just to remember how precious our shared world is and how we create its possibilities.

Finally We Mourn As A Nation

Tears came to my eyes when I saw the headline, that our president-elect is calling us into a time of mourning for those who have died from the pandemic. We are called, on the even of the inauguration at 5:30 p.m. to ring bells and light buildings and recognize those who have died.

Though it is not conceivable to mourn 350,000 people, pausing to try to grasp this enormity is important—and that we do it as a nation. As we mourn, let us also mourn those who have died from other causes at a higher rate because of the stress on our health systems and people’s fears about going in for care: more than 200,000 people died of causes other than COVID in 2020 over 2019.

Don’t think I have ever wished for church bells before—however, I wish that bells be rung from every church, temple, mosque, and other houses of worship to accompany us into this time of recognition, reckoning, and reconciliation. Though the official event will be in East coast time, I will have lights on at my home and ring a bell at 5:30 Pacific for the thought of a rolling wave of mourning across our nation seems a fitting way to begin this new time. This time will carry the anguish of the year we have just spent—and the other anguishes of hatred in the last five years and yet it will also carry possibility.

Also on my heart today, these words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Shattered dreams are a hallmark of our mortal life.”

How do we respond to a week such as this?

How do we respond to a week such as this? A week when we, people who affirm the best in the human spirit, have witnessed the mayhem caused by the worst? The reality is, there is no one right way.

For those of us who have experienced trauma in our own past, it may be most important to find a way to release the sense of relived terror we may be feeling and nourish our spirits.

For those of us who have been trained to push aside all hard emotions, we may need to create a space where we can hold our feelings.

For those of us who do best when we see facts, we may need to unpack, in moderate amounts, the analyses that are now coming which show the extent of the collusion which made the events of this week possible will bring healing truth.

For those of us who work to change the conditions that perpetuate such systematic hatred, we may need to allow our anger to flow into constructive action.

Yet whatever we do, may we not do it in isolation, may we remember that community and companionship matter in these moments. May we also remember that the approaches of others are their approaches and that, actually, over time, we may also learn from them. Those of us who like facts may need to feel. Those of us who go to feelings may be helped by facts. Those of us who work to change systems have information that will be valuable when the first shock of this wears off. And those of us who have experienced trauma have an understanding that is helpful and accurate in these times, that can help others understand who have never before had to experience that sense of raw terror and powerlessness.

So fumbling out from this shocking week together will remind us why we need one another.

Back To Top