Archive for August, 2012

Aug 31 2012

The Year of Cherishing, the Month of Compassion

Published by under Minister's Musings

Every time I mention to another Baby Boomer the theme for 2012-13 at the First Unitarian Church of San José, my conversation partner invariably begins to hum a popular song from the late 1960s—the Association’s “Cherish”:

“Cherish is the word I use to descri-ibe

all the feeling that I have hiding here for you insi-ide …”

You can watch a performance of this “oldie,” with a pretty funny introduction and some stellar sideburns, at (Gosh, the Association sounded so much more in tune when I heard them play this song live in 1969.)

But the themes of the Association’s “Cherish” are not exactly what we are aiming for when we call the coming church year “The Year of Cherishing.”

The word cherish rises from Latin roots that mean “dearness” and “friend.” Its roots are akin to the Sanskrit word for “love.” I chose this theme during my summer break, inspired by my sense of our universal longing to feel cherished by those we love and to offer our cherishing to all we hold dear. Yet unlike our first Unitarian Universalist Principle—in which we covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person—I believe that we must discern what we cherish and what we must not cherish (injustice, for instance, or abuse). Like most of us, I have questions about how we can best express our cherishing, especially in a culture that scoffs at anything that might seem sentimental. How can cherishing become something active, healthy, transformative? How can we expand the circle of what and whom we cherish?

Here, then, are my goals for our community during this Year of Cherishing:

1.     To deepen our understanding of what it means to cherish and be cherished.

2.     To expand our capacities for cherishing and our means of expressing our cherishing.

3.     To widen the circle of what and whom we cherish.

4.     To discern what it is that we are called to cherish and what we are called to reject/not cherish.

5.     And through all this, to learn to cherish life more deeply.

We will look at our monthly themes in dialogue with these yearlong goals. The theme for September is Compassion—and that’s what this journal is all about. In this election season, in this time of stress for so many, we need all the compassion we can muster. Here at FUCSJ, we are growing our compassion every week.

Please join us as we embark on another year of nurturing our spirits and helping to change the world. And please do know, each of you, that you are cherished!


With my love,


Rev. Nancy

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Aug 17 2012

The Journey Out and Back

Published by under Minister's Musings

At 6:45 a.m., my friend Terry and I tumble out into the already-bright sun of the southern California mountains, her two dogs prancing around us. On this first walk of the day, the air is still cool, the scents fresh, and there are a thousand new markings from forest creatures to explore—that’s Dashiell the beagle’s perspective, anyway. Rex, the young golden retriever, dances and bounds, his amber eyes fixed on our hands and the fistful of sticks we will throw.

Each dog has a different mission, a different instinct for what gives life meaning and joy. On the way outward, Dashiell wants a long lead and the freedom to stick his nose down every hole. Rex wants our shared enthusiasm for being OUTDOORS and ALIVE with STICKS to CATCH! OMG! Occasionally, Dashiell stops to s-t-r-e-t-c-h his neck hard against the leash so he can gaze through strands of barbed wire at some forbidden meadow. Occasionally, Rex flops down on the roadside brambles to sort the half-dozen sticks he has managed to pack between his smiling lips. The journey out is all about discovery and longing, worry and joy, alertness and connection to everything around them.

          On the way back, the dogs walk side by side; the leashes in our hands are slack. Dashiell casts only mild glances at what absorbed him earlier. Rex remembers a stick he’d dropped earlier, but he carries it for just a while, no longer obsessed with saving it. Their noses point toward home. The two dogs and two humans walk peacefully, companionably, senses filled. The journey back is all about resting and reflecting on what we have seen and learned.

          Doesn’t this pattern—the journey out and back—apply to our lives on every scale? From our daily passage from morning to evening, to times of actual travel or transition, to the journey of a whole lifetime: each journey has its own mission and character.

At Justice General Assembly in Phoenix this June, the journey out toward the vigil at Tent City was all about our spiritual and physical preparation—singing and praying on the bus, reminding each other of the rules, sharing our nerves about what we might face when we got there. The journey back was all about quietly reviewing what we had heard and seen, the power of peaceful, faithful people witnessing for justice in the face of inhuman oppression. We shared a weary but deep sense of the smallness and the greatness of simply showing up, together.

What journeys out and back have you taken this summer? And where are you now on the journey of your life? Won’t you share your stories with us? Our journeys are richer in meaning and joy when we show up for them, together.

I can’t wait to see you in August!


With great affection,


Rev. Nancy

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