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Learning What We’d Rather Not Learn

Dear Members and Friends,
My colleague, the Rev. Elizabeth Nyugen writes: “Spirit, I would really rather not learn this. Didn’t think I needed to.

thought someone else could do it. Thought a leader was coming to do it. Thought the young people could do it. Or the elders could do it. Or the professionals.”
Her reading is one I have been thinking of a great deal this year. And we used it in the service the first Sunday in November. 2017 seems to have been a year in which many of us were confronted with things we would rather not have learned: about the many forms of virulence hate can find, about our own difficulties confronting the ways we may unintentionally harm others, about the fragility of the world we are leaving our young people, about our own areas for growth.
For me, when given the chance to grow, I am often initially reluctant and then I plunge ahead. Yet rest and reintegration of all these new things takes time and energy. So as the days grow shorter and the winter stars more brilliant, I am celebrating the deep quiet of this season, trying to make room for reassessment and recovery in my life. And I don’t know many folks who aren’t feeling a need for some version of that.
This season can be so frenzied. I, for one, will be boycotting the shops and hitting the trails on the Friday after Thanksgiving; boycotting the malls and doing whatever shopping I need to do at local stores and at our own Craft faire and at other craft festivals. I will be looking to have experiences with people I love. All these timeless strategies have been around and this year they seem particularly powerful.
So as this year ends—celebrate where you have grown and stretched, where you have tried on something new, where you have welcomed in the stranger to our life or to your mind or heart. And be sure that these quieter days bring times of rest and healing for you and yours. Let the year end with a celebration of the good and a chance to rest in readiness for 2018.
As Elizabeth Nygen writes:
“Help me to learn it. Please.
And then help me to live what I have learned.
And do right by the gift of being taught.”
With Gratitude, Leslie
Rev. Leslie Takahashi serves as the Lead Minister of the congregation. She can be reached at

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