Sunday, January 27, 2019: In Praise of Rot

Rotting Pumpkin

All human things are subject to decay,
And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey.

― John Dryden, “Mac Flecknoe”

This Sunday we will celebrate decomposition, that bit of magic that, by stages, transforms death into life. Robert Helfer will lead the service.

Our services are Sundays at 11 a.m. at the Progressive Women’s Association Uptown Event Center, 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, behind the Courthouse. There are classes for children and adults 10 to 10:45 a.m., and a coffee gathering before the service. More about us.

From 10 to 10:45 a.m. we will be discussing “The Religious Educator of Color” and the “Response to Natalie Maxwell Fenimore and Aisha Hauser” from the book Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry.

We would love to have you come worship with us.

Children are welcome. There is childcare and an activity for young children during the service.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom. You may park on the south side of the building, which is marked reserved for the PWA.

Map

The schedule for the current adult religious education class is here.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Sunday, September 9, 2018: Hearing Nature’s Call

The Scream, Edvard Munch

I WaS WaLKING ALONG THE ROAD
WITH TWO FRIENDS WHEN
THE SUN WENT DOWN. THE SKY
SUdDENLY TURNED
TO BLOOD AND I FELT
A GREAT SCREAM IN
NATuRE

 – Edvard Munch, from his portfolio “The Tree of Knowledge” (translated by Francesca M. Nichols, https://www.emunch.no/TRANS_HYBRIDMM_T2547.xhtml)

Is nature calling to us? What should we do about that? Robert Helfer will share some thoughts on our conflicted relationship with nature.

We would love to have you come worship with us.

Our services are Sundays at 11 a.m. at the Progressive Women’s Association Event Center, 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, behind the Courthouse. There are classes for children and adults 10 to 10:45 am, and a coffee gathering before the service. More about us.

Classes and worship are replaced by Spiritual Outings on the first Sunday of each month during the summer, with brief worship, a potluck picnic, and outdoor activities. The schedule is in the sidebar.

Children are welcome. There is childcare and an activity for young children during the service.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom.

Map

The schedule for the current adult religious education class is here.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information

or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Sunday, July 22, 2018: Affluence and Environment

"Figural vessels", 500 BCE-400 CE

Researchers have found that concern for the environment rises with wealth, but so does one’s ecological footprint. This leads to a truth that some environmentalists might find inconvenient …: The greater your concern for the environment, the more likely you are to be destroying it.
— Tom Culman, “Are environmentalists hypocrites?”

We would love to have you come worship with us.

The “Seventh Principle” of Unitarian Universalism, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part“, can be seen as a call to protect the environment. This Sunday we’ll discuss how our thoughts on ecological issues might be affected by our relative affluence.

Our services are Sundays at 11 a.m. at the Progressive Women’s Association Event Center, 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, behind the Courthouse. There are classes for children and adults 10 to 10:45 am, and a coffee gathering before the service. More about us.

Classes and worship are replaced by Spiritual Outings on the first Sunday of each month during the summer, with brief worship, a potluck picnic, and outdoor activities. The schedule is in the sidebar.

Children are welcome. There is childcare and an activity for young children during the service.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom.

Map

The schedule for the current adult religious education class is here.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information

or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Sunday April 29, 2018: But How Do We Fit In?

Storm Damage

We hear much about the importance of preserving the environment, preserving the natural world in contrast to the world that has been created by human artifice. But aren’t people part of the natural world, too? This Sunday Robert Helfer will contemplate the idea of “nature” and consider our place in it.

Our services are Sundays at 11 a.m. at the Progressive Women’s Association Uptown Event Center, 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, behind the Courthouse.There are classes for children and adults 10 to 10:45 am, and a coffee gathering before the service. More about us.

We would love to have you come worship with us.

Children are welcome. There is childcare and an activity for young children during the service.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom. You may park on the south side of the building, which is marked reserved for the PWA.

Map

The schedule for the current adult religious education class is here.

Email westforkuu@gmail.com or use our contact form for more information or write to us at PO Box 523, Clarksburg WV 26302

Chalica 2017 Day 7

For each day of Chalica we will offer activities, some are fun and some are more reflecting, a chalice lighting, and a meditation. Gather everyone together, light the chalice, and breathe into the principles with us each day.

Activities:

  • Identify ways your family can be more green. Start a compost, recycle, bike more? As a family, choose one and commit!
  • Clean up trash at a park or in your neighborhood.
  • Advocate that your workplace, or your school, be more eco-friendly. Ask for recycle bins and reuse as much as possible.
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
  • Shop your local farmer’s market for local and organic fruits and veggies.
  • If you aren’t already vegetarian or vegan, plan to make a vegetarian or vegan meal.
  • As the saying goes, “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.” Today, recycle something from your house that would have been trash and create something with it: art, a gift, or a handy item.
  • Write a journal entry about how the world is connected together.
  • Rescue an animal.

Chalice Lighting: (If you don’t have a chalice at home, remember that the point of a chalice is that it is a symbol so any candle will work.) Since it is the last day there are two.

For the Web of Life By Paul Sprecher

We light this chalice for the web of life which sustains us,
For the sacred circle of life in which we have our being,
For the Earth, the Sky, Above and Below, and
For our Mother Earth, and for the Mystery.

 

All Animal Chalice By Mark Causey
We light this chalice, spark of the original fire of creation, to remind us that we all on this planet—the furred, the feathered, the finned, and the scaled, along with us featherless bipeds—we are all made of the same star-stuff and all share a common destiny. We all share the same hopes of a life free from harm and suffering and the same aspirations of happiness, love, and flourishing—being able to express our own unique natures and capacities as best we may. We are just that many diverse perspectives from which the whole is seen and experienced. We are inextricably intertwined, interconnected and interdependent. And it is good.

Blessed be.

 

Meditation: 
There are two meditations.

Blessing of the Water by Ranwa Hammamy

Bring us Close to Earth by Lyn Cox

Here is a musical meditation as well. This is Peter Mayer’s “Blue Boat Home”.

 

Season’s Blessings,
Cricket

Devotional for Day 7

 

Over 500 years ago, European governments adopted something called the Doctrine of Discovery: any lands and resources not already ruled by a European Christian monarch automatically became the property of whatever government whose subjects traveled to and occupied the territory. This Doctrine of Discovery is what legitimized the colonization of the Americas and later other lands, and the genocide and enslavement of millions of indigenous peoples. It was also this doctrine that gave various Christian denominations justification for establishing missions all over colonial territories and forcibly converting millions of indigenous peoples to Christianity.

I tell you this history because I want you to understand how profound it was for me to be among the 500 clergy who gathered with elders from many tribes at Standing Rock (in early November 2016) to publicly beg forgiveness for our traditions’ roles in the decimation of Native peoples and their cultures. And I want you to smell the smoke I smelled from the sacred fire the Standing Rock Sioux have kept burning since they established the Oceti Sakowin camp to try and prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from being routed through their sacred lands, from being laid at all given the horrible risk such a pipeline would pose to the water supply of tens of millions of people down river. I want you feel the catch I felt in my throat as UUA President Rev. Peter Morales participated in burning a copy of the Doctrine of Discovery.

I want you feel the dizzy disbelief I felt at the generosity of these peoples whose entire trajectories my culture has all but annihilated, and my amazement as their grandmothers smudged and blessed me when the purpose of my trip had been to try to support them. I want you feel the rage that burned in the bottom of my stomach as I saw the heaps of personal belongings and sacred objects the police had trashed after they arrested, stripped, numbered on the arm with permanent marker, and left overnight in unheated cells the size of dog kennels several peaceful water protectors. And I want you to feel that rage quadruple as I did when I learned that the pipeline had originally been routed to go through Bismarck, but that it had been rerouted when that city’s mainly white citizenry objected, worried about a leak jeopardizing their water supply, the rage of learning that the governor of North Dakota and his closest friends stand to personally profit from the completed pipeline.

I want you to feel the tension I felt as I walked from camp to the “front line,” where a militarized police force had positioned burned out vehicles and officers in SWAT gear to keep water protectors from even being able to see the destruction the oil company’s construction workers were waging as they dug through sacred lands that include burial and battlegrounds as hallowed to the Lakota and Dakota peoples as Gettysburg or the Alamo are to many of us. I want you feel the sense of unease I felt, the sense of being under a microscope, as a police helicopter and later a small prop plane circled just overhead of us as we clergy confessed and prayed, sang and listened to the stories and urgings of tribal elders.

I want you to feel the great sadness that slowly settled into me, more every hour I was in that place so saturated with over a century of loss and theft and violence, the sadness of knowing that my lifestyle is contributing to the hunger for oil. The sadness I felt as I learned that the police were using that same helicopter and plane along with sound cannons and huge prison yard lights to deprive the water protectors from sleep at night. The sadness that while I got to get back on a plane and fly home to my healthy family and the new home and job that I love, many of these peaceful and strong and admirable people would remain at the camp through the winter, or go back to lives in which simply going grocery shopping can be impossible because racist cashiers routinely refuse to serve Native Americans.

There is so much more of what I saw that I want to share with all of you, but I want to end with what I think is the most important part of my experience at Standing Rock: the sense of the sacred every time I met a water protector. Their grounding in prayer, their profound spiritual maturity left me greatly humbled. Never once did I hear any of them, whether in personal conversation or from a microphone speak with hatred towards the police who have been injuring them, or towards the Americans whose greed for wealth and hunger for oil have forever crippled the natural resources of the continent that they honored for millennia before colonization. Instead, they spoke of their growing concern of this pipeline and a prophecy that foretells great destruction if a “black snake” is allowed to travel from the top to the bottom of north America. And they spoke always of a need for all of us to heal, all of us to repent, all of us to change our ways and live in alignment with the goodness and bounty and beauty of the earth we share.

A water protector I met there named Shoshi reminded me of something I’d forgotten: the word apocalypse literally means “the lifting of the veil” or the time when people begin to see what’s always been in front of them. We know that relying on oil to power our lives is bad for the earth and, as such, bad for us. Our culture has just been working really hard for a really long time to ignore that truth.

May my tiny contribution to supporting indigenous self-determination and supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock, may the contributions of each of us in our own ways, help tip our world into a new age. May the contributions of each of us help tip our world into a new moral revival, where people are valued more than profits, where the health of our planet is valued more than lifestyle convenience, and where love of human diversity is valued more than fear.

Activities for Day 7

The Seventh Principle is Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part or We care for Earth’s lifeboat.

Here are some activities to help you celebrate:

As a family

Identify ways your family can be more green. Start a compost, recycle, bike more? As a family,choose one and commit!

Clean up trash at a park or in your neighborhood.

As an Individual

Advocate that your workplace, or your school, be more eco-friendly. Ask for recycle bins and reuse as much as possible.

Volunteer at a local animal shelter.

Food

Shop your local farmer’s market for local and organic fruits and veggies.

If you aren’t already vegetarian or vegan, plan to make a vegetarian or vegan meal.

Gifts

As the saying goes, “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.” Today, recycle something from your house that would have been trash, and create a gift with it. Turn it into a work of art, or a handy item.