Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

April showers… I pray they are more rain showers than snow showers: April in Ohio—one never knows…

Theologian Howard Thurman once wrote, “Often, to be free means the ability to deal with the realities of one’s own situation so as not to be overcome by them.”

And sometimes we reach to God, to the ancestors, to the universe, to the sacred within us, around us—what is was and ever shall be—and we pray for that spark of life in each of us to find peace, to love our siblings, to speak
and act and embody beloved community.

We use the metaphor of rebirth with spring. The Easter holiday reflects this, our tradition of flower communion on Easter reflects this and pairs it with the community building that being a part of a church embodies.

Spring flowers pop up, they regrow—This is their resiliency. We use this symbol as we search for meaning.

As we confront the issues we have in ourselves and society: white supremacy culture and perfectionism, the partisan divide, homophobia and transphobia: We work for peace.

As we feel liberation from not being overwhelmed by our realities, let us remember to connect in meaningful ways and to keep the gains we’ve made: We work for peace.

As we begin prioritizing mental health along with physical, social and spiritual health: We work for peace.

Spring is about growth. The sap has to run before the tree can blossom. The bulbs needed planting before the daffodils and lilies can flower. There is peace in the work; there is peace in the journey as well as the destination.

Happy Easter! Spring is here! Peace be with you.

— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

I am stirred. I am agitated. I am comforted. I am loved. I am angered, enraged. The diversity of feelings overwhelms me. I am calmed with the respite that spring seems to offer. But then I am concerned for the people who’ll suffer from flooding. A friend of mine on the other side of the aisle asked me for help; he said, “I think I’m blinded to sexism and blinded by my own misogyny.” The Russian Invasion of Ukraine stirs fears of loss and pain but what war actually is. Thinking about sunflowers and all of the different meanings it is as a symbol. I think about our Supreme Court and the mixed emotions of encouragement offered by Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination while also living within the fear I continue to have with a 6-3 court. I am moved by the coming lenten season and the reflection it offers and I am moved by the coming of spring. I pray each of us can find meaning, joy, and peace while also standing for our values.

— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

I hope February finds you in peace and love and purpose.
Today I got to tell a story to a group of adults. It was a “water cooler” moment and everyone was talking. A colleague, in a story she shared mentioned a #2 pencil. Someone else interrupted the conversation to ask me to tell the story of the 88 countries and the pencil.

“It’s not a joke,” I said in response. “Have you heard the one about the broken pencil and his existential crisis? He tries to write, but it’s pointless.” Everyone groans at the bad humor. And then I tell the story of the 88 countries that it takes to make a single #2 pencil.

The paint is made in Kazakhstan. The graphite is mined in Brazil, but is shipped through the defederalized zones in Jamaica and shaped in Mexico. The wood is harvested in South Africa, Swaziland, Hungary, Estonia, Georgia; shaped in Sweden. The eraser has rubber from Thailand, processed in Malaysia, and formed in Cambodia.

It takes 88 countries to make a pencil. Think about everyone working. Think about the connection that we don’t even know about. Think about someone working, going home to visit their mother, taking her dinner. Each step in the supply line and each step in the supporting economies.

Whether we know it or not, we are connected. One of the greatest takeaways from living through this pandemic is our closeness—how we breathe the same air as others.

Spirit of Life
Today, in this moment, in this time, in this space–in this safe place…we pray for connection in ecosystems and economies, in hope and faith and love…

We pray
For the folks who can’t keep it together. For ourselves–when we can’t. When the world seems too big a challenge. When the world feels too big, too lonely and the challenges seem too great.

We pray
For the people who are separated from their loved ones–those in mourning and those victims of discrimination and ignorance when death is the barrier when rules and judgements get in the way when justice fails and “Us and Them” is used to drive a barrier.

We pray
For ourselves, for our wellbeing so that we might carry-on and help. That we might stand up for those oppressed, but also sit with them as we mourn the lose-lose options we face. We pray for our sisters and brothers who fight the good fight, when we are distracted by our own attachments.

We pray
a prayer of gratitude. That we exist in this time to confront these issues. We can create pencillike connections in all aspects of our lives. We get to change these diapers. We get to pick up this mess. We get to create this art and work this work. We get to wipe away these tears. We get to have this laughter, these knowing laughs and these bellylaugh until we cry-laughs. We get to comfort others in this time of turmoil, this time of connection.

Amen
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!!! We are so blessed by so many people and so many different things happening! We are working together to improve our world, build relationships, and advocate for Justice. In the middle of the journey sometimes it feels like a long road ahead of us. The Omicron variant is one more obstacle to getting rid of this pandemic. Sometimes it feels like it won’t end.

But, shifting the focus from outcomes to process—sometimes that can offer us enough change to keep moving—Outcomes can be attachments. “Attachment leads to jealousy, the shadow of greed, that is.” Maybe that was Buddha, or was it Yoda? It seems like good advice. Fear of missing out and the attachment to outcomes can blind us to the journey, the process. Sometimes shifting focus can feel daunting.

“Is it hard?”
“Not if you have the right attitudes. It’s having the right attitudes that’s hard.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

In this new year, remember to take care of yourselves: connect with others, sleep, drink water, eat well. Whatever your resolutions are, have caution and take one step at a time.

Happy Birthday, All Souls—You’re now 200 years old!

Let’s remember to keep the thoughts of belonging, acceptance, peacebuilding and social advocacy in our hearts, in the ways we interact, and in the work we do. Peace, Hope and Love for 200 more years!

— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

Advent is here. Christmas is coming! Trim the tree, buy the presents, make the plans—are we staying in this year? There are many ways to take Advent: The shopping, the planning, the cooking, the time thinking of Christmas Past, Christmas Future…

Advent in the UU tradition is diverse: Our Christian sources have us preparing for the annual birth of Jesus. Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means arrival. St. Jerome, who translated the bible into Latin, used adventus, as the translation of the Greek word parousia (πάρειμι), which is usually translated as arrival or re-arrival.

We are preparing for the arrival of Christmas. We are preparing for each other, the gifts, presents, and the presence we can offer one another.

As we prepare for the longest night—this holy darkness—let us also share the light within us with the community. Let us share the blessings and bounty we have.

Our Earth-based sources ask us to look at our planet, to look at the daylight and notice what is happening. The solstice marks a time when the nighttime is abundant. This affects us, as creatures that are part of our ecosystems. Some of us notice this in our dispositions and our mental health. The need for connection continues!

Chalica begins soon—look for Facebook posts. We have Christmas Eve Service with a candlelight service.

I pray your Advent season is safe and maintains your health in all its aspects: Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual. Merry Christmas Everyone! Happy Holidays!

Peace,
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Dear Friends,

Helen Keller once said, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.” When we look at this shattered world, we can choose to view it as brokenness or the beauty of a mural or like stained glass.

November brings a reminder that winter is coming and the potential isolation, cold, and loneliness, but it also reminds us to cultivate gratitude and thanksgiving; it reminds us to be a better friend and to more readily offer the comradeship to our neighbors.

I’m asking that each of us, in our own health aware and safe way, engage our communities.

You could do so many amazing things!

You could lead a small drive—non-perishable food or clothing, hats and gloves. This could be here at church, but it could also be in your neighborhood, workplace or volunteer place.

You could buy someone dinner. Sometimes people pay for the meal at another table at a restaurant or in a drive thru line. Sometimes people just bring a pizza to a group of people who are homeless.

You could send care cards–a postcard that says–”Hey there my friend, I care about you. Remember the time when we laughed at ________, those were some good times.”

It is our responsibility to continue to help our communities to be inclusive, to notice when we fall short and when we succeed; it is also our responsibility to speak truth to power–sometimes that is corrective and sometimes it is celebratory.

Elandria Williams, former co-moderator of the UUA said that, “We are the children of freedom fighters, visionaries, and radical liberal theologians. We are the phoenix rising out of the ashes of the McCarthy era and the civil rights, women’s, and queer liberation movements. We are the survivors and beneficiaries… We wear our faith as tattoos on our bodies and in our hearts as testaments to the blood, tears, dreams, and inspirations of our community ancestors and elders.”

The radical inclusivity of our movement, of our tradition calls us to connect and to hear their stories and to share ourselves. This seemingly mundane act of listening, and caring by offering non-judgement and presence–make no mistake–it isn’t mundane, it is revolutionary and it is Love. Love, all we need is Love!

Peace,
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Happy Halloween! Happy October.

I am excited for pumpkins and falling leaves, frost and foggy mornings. A cool fall morning, flannel shirt, a fire, some coffee… I think I need that.

I’ve been talking with others about the Spirit of Expectancy—the notion that we live in a veiled reality: We live in a reality where Beloved Community is real and tangible now and those who behave as if we don’t are acting outside of the norm, the actual reality; we are to live, breathe and act as if Beloved Community is here. John Lewis and other civil rights leaders talked about this, reflecting on the 1960s. This was their coping framework.

I often look around and get flustered with our political situation, our environment, race, poverty, treatment of people, immigration, and drug abuse: the earth, sky, our siblings, our community. I recall my favorite advice of Forrest Church, when all of this feels too big:

“Love when you can.
Do the work that is yours to do.
Be the person that is yours to
be at any given time.
Think to wish for all that is
yours to do,
and think to wish that you
might be who it is that you
might most fully be…”

I hope, pray and think this for you all. Happy Halloween!
— Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Hello my friends,

September finds us in a myriad of 10,000 things. This morning I saw the mist lifting off of hills and the sun poking through clouds and the coming of fall filled me full of hope. I even made a sage-carrot dressing and roasted apples for a supper. For me fall represents a return to center. Yet, my heart aches for folkx in Afghanistan, in Louisiana, in our community dealing with COVID concerns, ever-present racism and poverty and climate change. While the fight in all of these continues, the apples falling off trees and the misty mornings remind me of our connections.

In these connections and conversations with our neighbors let us find community and purpose. Let us find family and friends and allies. Let us take peace building into each of our relationships to one another, our institutions and to our ecosystems!

Let peace and love roll off our tongues!

Happy September!

Peace,
Rev. Will

Message from the Minister

Friends,

August is here. As our summer months draw to an end, let us remember to adventure, causing good trouble along the way. Adventuring is an essential element of meaning making, of reflecting on our lives and in the stories we tell ourselves. We do something, then we reflect on the outcomes. Each of us has an opportunity to tell our own tales, especially when we are telling them to ourselves and this can activate in us, a better self.

#662 Strange and Foolish Walls
The years of all of us are short, our lives precarious.
Our days and nights go hurrying
on and there is scarcely time to
do the little that we might.
Yet we find time for bitterness, for
petty treason and evasion.
What can we do to stretch our
hearts enough to lose their littleness?
Here we are – all of us – all upon
this planet, bound together in a common destiny,
Living our lives between the briefness of the daylight and the dark.
Kindred in this, each lighted by the same precarious, flickering flame of life,
how does it happen that we are not indeed in all things else?
How strange and foolish are these walls of separation that divide us!
The adventures we have in our days and nights, as they hurry by, and the stories we tell each other and ourselves: “Yet we find time
for bitterness, for petty treason and evasion. What can we do to stretch our hearts enough to lose their littleness?”

We can adventure. We can imagine ourselves conquering dragons. We can live a life of radical inclusion. It is on each of us to reach out, to stand up, to speak up, to draw one another closer. This brief life, this even shorter bout of ableness, we can declare to our neighbors what is right and what is true:

You belong and you’re enough. You are beautiful. There are systems and institutions designed to spread the lies counter to this gospel. And, if we work together we can dismantle those institutions piece by piece. And, together we can love each other, cherishing our uniqueness, loving both our similarities and our differences.

I pray each of you knows that you belong with us. We can be united in our Love, in our daily adventures and meaning making.

Peace,
Rev. Will

Message From The Minister

Dear Friends,

Our life is but a journey from one age to the next, from child to teen then through the decades of adulthood. Each milestone charts the journey, and our abilities change all the while, like seasons unfolding. Our faith is one of liberation and grounding. We ground ourselves to the truth, the knowable truths, the self truths as well as the scientific ways of knowing them. We reach up toward the sky, expanding our notions of justice, broadening who gets to count, and deepening the relationships with one another: our siblings and our planet. July finds us rooting down as well as stretching up. The summer warms us, excites us and emboldens us to laugh a little louder, to sing a song from our heart, and to be merry with ourselves, among friends, and the green leaves.

I’m again one of the chaplains for our region’s Summer Institute. Although it is virtual again this year, I am speaking on resilience, and I can’t help but think about All Souls and the ways we’ve cultivated resilience over these past few years, as well as throughout the pandemic.

As July warms us with sunshine and humidity, I encourage you to meet, to talk, to play cards, to hike, to bike ride, to eat ice cream and gelato, and to tell your stories. Our stories help us find and discern meaning, and our stories bind our connections. Tell your stories! The stories of love, of loss, of connection and mistakes, when we’re at our best but also the normal everyday things. This is how we love each other into wellness, and bring our world one more step toward beloved community. Feel water, breathe the air, know the heat outside, and wriggle your toes or fingers in mud.

Happy July, my friends!

Mansfield Pride is in Early August—look out for more information
about our float in the parade and our booth!

—Rev. Will

On-Site Services Have Resumed.
Masks Are Requested.