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

Message From The Minister

Dear Friends,

June is pride month—for more than 50 years since the Stonewall Riots. This year as restrictions from Covid lift, more celebrations resound. I am excited about not only pride events and celebrations but also our own return to in person services in our sanctuary.

With this being pride month, we can think about our friends and partner organizations—perhaps donate or volunteer with them: Mansfield Gay Pride and the Mid Ohio LGBTQ+ Community Center (www.midohiolgbtqcc.org); our friends at Love on a Mission (loveonamission.org); or political action teams like EqualityOhio or Human Rights Campaigns. Our UU Justice Ohio (UUJO.org) is another organization that organizes protests, lobbyists, and workshops.

This poem below called “Prayer/Oracion” really called to me and the ways Justice is foundational to our UU theologies.

Prayer/Oracion
BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN
TR. BY FRANCISCO ARAGÓN

I want a god
as my accomplice
who spends nights
in houses
of ill repute
and gets up late
on Saturdays

a god
who whistles
through the streets
and trembles
before the lips
of his lover

a god
who waits in line
at the entrance
of movie houses
and likes to drink
café au lait

a god
who spits
blood from
tuberculosis and
doesn’t even have
enough for bus fare

a god
knocked
unconscious
by the billy club
of a policeman
at a demonstration

a god
who pisses
out of fear
before the flaring
electrodes
of torture

a god
who hurts
to the last
bone and
bites the air
in pain

a jobless god
a striking god
a hungry god
a fugitive god
an exiled god
an enraged god

a god
who longs
from jail
for a change
in the order
of things

I want a
more godlike
god

Peace,

–Rev. Will

Message from the Board

Dear Friends,

The last 12 plus months has seen so much change.  Change we were not expecting and not prepared for.  And now we change again, we plan on reopening the church to the public the first time since March of 2020.  We welcome the congregation back on May 30, 2021 for our 10:30 a.m. service. Join us outside on the green in front of the village office, weather permitting.

Bring a blanket, chair, mask, and even your favorite coffee cup.  Yes, we will have coffee!  We will maintain social distance and we ask you wear a mask inside and outside, masks will be available for those who need one.  If the weather does not cooperate then we will move inside.

All Souls UU Bellville Board

Message From The Minister

Friends,

It used to be that the new year was marked by Spring. Once winter is over and happy times are here again… There have been many ways to mark the passing of time.

Right now, I often find myself saying things like, “in the before times” as a pre pandemic reference. And it is a real and interesting thing, to collectively live when a seemingly natural bookend occurs. We’ve all fundamentally shifted the ways we do things, the ambition we may have had slighted toward something else, visions recast.

Our church will be returning to in-person services on May 30th: the natural book end. But the pandemic isn’t over. We will continue to be inclusive. Our services will be outdoors when possible; we continue to stream our services to be available to folx who can’t be with us in person. When the weather prevents us from being outside, then in our church building we can gather masked.

This has been a difficult year for all of us, and each of us in varying degrees. The pandemic, systemic racism, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia, classism, ability: all of these point toward the intersections of privilege and hardship of life today. I look forward to our return in person!

There is a prayer that has been giving me life:

All That We Share Is Sacred
[written in honor of two Unitarians, Martha and Waitstill
Sharp, who during WWII dared to risk their own comfort in
order to help save the lives of those in desperate need.]
By Andrée Mol

As we gather together,
May we remember
When you share with me what is most important to you,
That is where listening begins.
When I show you that I hear you,
When I say your life matters,
That is where compassion begins.
When I open the door to greet you,
That is where hospitality begins.
When I venture out to bring you to shelter,
That is where love begins.
When I risk my comfort to ease your suffering,
When I act against hatred, violence, and injustice,
That is where courage begins.
When we experience the full presence of each other,
Because of our shared humanity,
Because of our differences,
That is where holy gratitude begins.
May this space be a table
that is not complete
until all are welcome.
May this table be a space of beauty
where together
we create a series of miracles, and
where all that we share is sacred.

May it be so.

Peace be with you,

–Rev. Will

Message From The Minister

Friends,

We use the metaphor of rebirth with spring, but the flowers were there before. They sat there in their winter slumber. Some of them were bulbs that we planted in the fall, laboring for spring beauty. Some of them blew in, seemingly by happenstance, the happenstance of a million years of evolution.

The trees stood tall, and bare all winter and the sap flowed.

The grasses we cut back, regrow—This is their resiliency.

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

As we feel liberation from the virus that put all of us into isolation, 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

Friends,

Happy March! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Happy Springtime. The rainy days serve as a reminder for reflection, introspection and discovery. Spring rains always remind me of the tradition of baptism and ritual washing. It’s the Month of Worms, as the Shawnee referred to early spring. With spring around the bend and vaccinations all around, it feels like hope is returning. For churches like ours, it is so vital to keep connected. With masked precautions
let us revitalize our small groups.

Dear March- Come in

Dear March – Come in –
How glad I am –
I hoped for you before –
Put down your Hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are –
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much to tell –
I got your Letter, and the Birds –
The Maples never knew that you
were coming –
I declare – how Red their Faces grew –
But March, forgive me –
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue –
There was no Purple suitable –
You took it all with you –
Who knocks? That April –
Lock the Door –
I will not be pursued –
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied –
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come
That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame –
~Emily Dickinson

Peace,

— Rev. Will

Message From The Minister

Friends,

Winter can be hard: The pounding winds, the cold weather, the accessibility inhibited, the extra money burnt up as heat. Winter can make us feel alone and isolated, making us long for warmer days, for old friends, for old times, or safe times. COVID and politics can leave us feeling all the colder, ever more isolated. Buddhist nun, Rev. Pema Chödrön, says that this means to realize

our nostalgia for wanting to stay in a protected, limited, petty world is insane… Once you begin to get the feeling of how big the world is and how vast our potential for experiencing life is, then you really begin to understand renunciation. When we sit in meditation, we feel our breath as it goes out, and we have some sense of willingness just to be open to the present moment. Then our minds wander off into all kinds of stories and fabrications and manufactured realities, and we say to ourselves, “It’s thinking.” We say that with a lot of gentleness and a lot of precision. Every time we are willing to let the story line go, and every time we are willing to let go at the end of the out breath, that’s fundamental renunciation: learning how to let go of holding on and holding back.

In the spring, the trees will flow with sap, but if we allow ourselves to stay frozen, like the trees now, like some of us feel, then we’ll remain in this frozen state, like a dam ready to burst. But if we remember to have right intentions, to cultivate presence with one another, to see the joyous things around us, then we can let go and experience a type of freedom, a type of Love.

We look at February in many ways: as a time for romance, as a time for Justice, as a time for cold and winter, in each of these let us love more deeply than yesterday. Thinking of February in these diverse ways, I recall the famous Cornel West quote, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

Master Shinran Shonin, twelfth century teacher and Zen Master wrote, “There is no separation between self and other, and my life exists only because of others. It is the power of others, the power-beyond-myself, that sustains my entire existence. This is the path to beloved Community, this is the path to peace, this is the path to Justice.”

May it be so.

Peace,

— Rev. Will

Message From The Minister

As we welcome a new year, new possibilities, hope and support, connection, acknowledging that we may never quite go back to the way things were, as Tom Petty sang in “Learning to Fly”:

…Well, the good ol’ days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn
I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing
Well, some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God-knows-where
I guess I’ll know when I get there

Happy New Year! This past year has been full of rocks melting and sea burning. But holding to our values along with our connection to others is how we move forward. I am reassured by the daily reading from DailyTao:

Whoever is planted in the Tao will not be rooted up.
Whoever embraces the Tao will not slip away.
Her name will be held in honor
from generation to generation.
Let the Tao be present in your life
and you will become genuine.
Let it be present in your family
and your family will flourish.
Let it be present in your country and your country will
be an example to all countries in the world.
Let it be present in the universe
and the universe will sing.
How do I know this is true?
By looking inside myself.
—Tao Te Ching, Chapter 54

Regardless of deities, or source traditions, we are a faith that believes in democracy, in each other. This is in the ways that we value each other, even when we disagree. Unified in the notions of our worth, we do social justice work as a function of our faith. This is the anti-racism role that we take in our community. This is the involvement that we have within Pride. It is in helping our neighbors, the children in our communities, in the volunteer work that we do in schools and youth centers, and shelters. It is in our clothing drives and food drives. It is in our work to help others make meaning in their lives, or to promote oneness of all things.

Who are you helping? Kids in a school? Folx as they discover their identities and abilities? Institutions? What experiences are you cultivating, and curating to yourself? What attitude are you choosing?

I am choosing an attitude of both hopeful optimism and gratitude for 2021. I am filled with the spirit that I can make a difference. I know that each of us can and do, and I am excited to see what we can do with this new year!

Happy New Year, Peace!

— Rev. Will