Thursday, October 30, 2014

 Every election is determined by the people who show up.” ― Larry J. SabatoPendulum Swing
 Today I got to witness a wonderful event. My 19 year old son, Sam, cast his first vote, thus entering into the democratic process our elections seek to uphold. As any mother would, I took photographs to honor this event. Sam was  a bit long suffering about it all, particularly the last picture of him dropping his ballot into the ballot box. "Why must I have a mom who insists on embarrassing me publicly?" He asked. Then, as if to underscore his point, he added sardonically, "Can you hear the weariness in my voice?"
I remember when I first voted. It was 1980, I had just turned 18, I had already enlisted in the US Air Force, though I wasn't due to enter Basic Training until mid-December, it was a presidential election, I had been out as a lesbian for two years.
I remember the way it felt, waiting in line, walking up to the ballot box and pulling the curtain behind me. I felt, suddenly, the weight of the responsibility before me; I understood viscerally in a way that before that moment I had only understood academically, the importance of the act I was about to undertake, the power of my vote, the need for me to make this commitment to let my voice be heard.
The main people I voted for didn't win that year, in 1980. Indeed, it would be over a decade before the person I voted for became president of the United States. Through these past 34 years, whether my candidates or issues have won or lost, I have maintained my commitment, made myself accountable to the responsibility to vote. To my knowledge, I have never missed a presidential election and may have the same perfect attendance on the midterm elections, such as the one before us now. The few times I missed a local or state election, due to circumstances beyond my control, I remember feeling a sense of guilt; as if I had let my values down by missing out on the right and responsibility to vote.
And here I am today, passing the baton to my son. I hope that I have instilled in him the importance of his vote, how we really can change the world with our voices and values, yet, no many how many rallies we attend, if we don't vote, we have abdicated our responsibility to try to create and re-create a country where there is room at the table for all, where justice is the plumb line and not the deep pockets of political lobbyists or special interest groups, where hope is dished up daily in portions for all. I can't guarantee who or what he voted for (or who or what I voted for, for that matter) will be celebrating with victories on Tuesday night. I can only guarantee that his vote counts, his casting of the ballot remains an act of revolution, and, as he continues to carry this mantle of responsibility along with all of this, the newest generations of voters, he will indeed make a difference.
And so will you. If you have already voted, thank you. If you have had your ballot sitting on the counter for the past week or so, thinking you will get to it later, do it now. Now is the time. Today is when our voices must be heard through our vote. And remember, as this point you will need to walk it into a balloting place; it's too late to trust that it will arrive by Tuesday and we need your voice. That is one of the ways we can fulfill the 6th principle of Unitarian Universalism: the right of democratic process in our congregations, and in society at large. Help determine the outcome of the election this Tuesday: show up and vote!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be

~ Mary Oliver

The leadership of All Souls is constantly asking ourselves this question: How can we more effectively communicate and embody the mission and vision of our church? How can we encourage the members and friends of All Souls to do the same?
This morning the e-letter team met and asked that question of our weekly e-letter? Is it getting the right words out about what's going on at All Souls? Is it manageable to read in a quick session? Or does all the details about all the different happenings get folks bogged down? 
So we're experimenting a little. For one thing, I'm moving my musings to my blog, which made me sneeze when I opened up just now, it was so dusty. In the weekly e-letter you will still get the synopsis of what I (or the guest speaker) will be speaking on this coming Sunday but I will save my more prosaic musings for this venue. (If you're not on the e-letter mailing list and want to be, click here to subscribe-- there's lots of interesting information about what's going on every week at All Souls.)
The good news is that the intrepid e-letter team won't be waiting on me to finish up the weekly column before they can send the e-letter out, and the better news is that I can write whenever I want, not just on Wednesdays. I will commit to writing at least once weekly; we'll see how that takes form.
It's good to be open to change, to try to do something in a new way in hopes that it will increase your impact. It's also possible that in trying new things we-- you and I-- could experience monumental successes or colossal failures. 
We're not perfect, (Saint) Mary Oliver reminds us in the above poem. We're not supposed to be. We supposed to pay attention to that which matters, which is mostly standing still and being astonished.
Where are you standing still in your own life? Where are you astonished?
For myself, I've been trying to be much more intentional about my daily meditation practice. It can be so easy for me to get swept away in all the things that clutter up a day: deadlines to meet, fires to put out, bills to pay. The funny thing is when I focus on those things they tend to grow in their importance in my eyes. I begin to think those things are more important than standing still and learning to be astonished at all the beauty there is in this battered world of ours, if only I remember to look for it.
I'm excited about this new way of communicating with you, of you being connected to me, to All Souls in a variety of ways. I encourage you to sign up to follow my ramblings, if you want. 
And feel free to share your ramblings with me. I like to know what's going on in your lives, where you are being astonished. Perhaps we can share the wonder together.