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Maureen's Musings
White Supremacist Richard Spencer to speak at UF 10-19 -- a Letter to Our Congregation

The University has published a detailed Q&A of information about how and why Spencer will be speaking, the current plans for security at UF, and other information. I encourage anyone who is curious or has questions to click HERE.

In a message today (Tuesday, October 10) to UF employees UF President Fuchs urged his recipients to do two things in response to this event and Spencer's white nationalist message of racism, antisemitism, homophobia and hate:

I urge our community to do two things:

First, do not provide Mr. Spencer and his followers the spotlight they are seeking. They are intending to attract crowds and provoke a reaction in order to draw the media. I urge everyone to stay away from Mr. Spencer and his followers and the Phillips Center where he will speak and the media will be assembled on October 19. By shunning him and his followers we will block his attempt for further visibility.

Second, although I urge you to avoid the Spencer event, I ask that you not let Mr. Spencer’s message of hate and racism go unchallenged. Speak up for your values and the values of our university. Make it clear that messages of hate on our campus are contrary to those values. Mr. Spencer’s message is disproportionately hurtful to members of our Gator community who are targets of hate and violence simply because of their skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs. Those of us in the majority must speak up for those in the minority and make our voice of love and support heard.

Although I know members of our community hold differing views on the appropriate response to this coming event, I support President Fuchs' recommendations. My sermon this coming Sunday, October 15, will address some of these points. However we choose to respond, each of us needs to consider our personal feelings and ethical positions as we confront this juxtaposition of the demands of freedom of speech and the power and ongoing consequences of hate. May this message, and President Fuchs' words, assist you as you frame your thoughts.

Rev. Maureen
Rev. Dr. Maureen Killoran, AIM, PTS
Developmental Minister
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, Florida

A Letter to the Congregation Following the Las Vegas Shooting

Dear Ones,

By now, many if not most of you will have learned about the shooting in Las Vegas, where an apparently lone shooter focused his hatred on hundreds of people who were enjoying a music festival. Nearly 60 people are reported dead as I write, over 500 wounded. Think of this like a rock thrown in a pond. In the next circle of are all those nearby, concert goers and others caught up in the immediate terror of the moment. Then come thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, whose lives have been personally torn apart by the actions of one man who we are told had at least 19 guns and a large amount of ammunition in his hotel room. And then there’s us, reading, reacting, weeping, perhaps raging, as we try to incorporate this new violence into our world.

One thing appears clear from the facts known to date: this did not happen by accident. From everything we know, this massacre was planned, planned by a man whose neighbors and family refer to him as “just a normal guy.”

But this was violence enacted irrationally by one man with many high powered weapons.

Dozens are dead, hundreds wounded. Thousands directly traumatized.

For some reading this, this new rampage will open old wounds, including some that are barely healed.

Others will weep in inchoate rage, feeling at the same time frustrated, powerless and angry.

I know that, among those reading this email, is a wide diversity of opinions on gun control and/or limitations or restrictions on gun ownership. I ask that we not divert this tragedy into an argument about the Second Amendment or the various possibilities for restrictions that many believe are possible without abrogating the freedoms mandated by the Constitution. There is no one easy solution, no single law or response that can wipe this sort of obscenity from our national culture. Nothing is simple or easy in the hyper-reactivity of today. These conversations are necessary. They must be engaged, but today is not the time.

But there is one thing we can do. We can do it now. We can do it today.

I call on you, as I call on myself, to be a little kinder each person you meet, perhaps especially those with whom you disagree. Treat yourself gently, if only for the next few days. Allow your grief, your anger, your re-opened wounds, to receive the care they need.

If you would like to touch base, please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Let us be gentle with one another in this hard time, for we never know what the next hour will bring.

With much love,

Rev. Maureen

Notes from a Peripatetic Hurricane Watcher #2

OK, I’ve done as much of the hurricane prep list as I can manage. We’re here, ready to hunker down for the duration. Next, of course, comes the question of what-are-I-going-to-do, if the lights go out and electronic connection is, for a period, denied. How to keep from going stir crazy, if, like me, your usual path to wellbeing involves a lot of connection?

As I did the unnecessary task of straightening my bookshelves, I came upon a long-neglected volume by the late Irish writer John O’Donohue. In the mysterious way of some special books, didn’t it just fall open to a blessing for courage. Perhaps it will speak to you as it does to me.

When the light around you lessens

And your thoughts darken until

Your body feels fear turn

Cold as a stone inside . . .

Know that you are not alone

And that this darkness has purpose;

Gradually it will school your eyes

To find the one gift your life requires

Hidden within this night-corner.

Invoke the learning

Of every suffering

You have suffered.

Close your eyes.

Gather all the kindling

About your heart

To create the one spark

That is all you need

To nourish the flame

That will cleanse the dark

Of its weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive

To urge you towards higher grond

Where your imagination

Will learn to engage difficulty

As its most rewarding threshold!

(John O’Donohue, “For Courage,” in Benedictus: A Book of Blessings, 2007)

Do all you can to be safe and dry.

Know that you are precious.

You are loved.

Blessings, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Are You Sleeping? (Thoughts from a peripatetic hurricane watcher - #1)

Dear Ones,

As I write this, Peter and I have decided, as have many of you, to hunker down and deal with whatever it is that is coming our way. Am I out of line to guess that some (perhaps many? maybe close to all?) of you are to some degree anxious?
* What is Irma going to bring?
* What will happen to my home? to my family? to my animal companions? . . . to me?
* How bad is it going to be?
I will be frank with you. Last night I did not sleep. Fears, reasonable and unlikely, flooded my mind and kept me awake, busied by the busyness of semi-useful tasks.
Do you know what I learned?
I learned that letting myself be caught up in those fears did not get me one step closer toward living with integrity. Living today, tomorrow, and the week to come. They didn't connect me any closer to the people I care about - which includes each and every one of you reading this post.
Another thing I learned was really a reminder: My friends, we are in this together.
For good or ill, Hurricane Irma is coming. And we will hold on to one another by whatever means we can - electronic as long as possible. Telephone, for those of you with land lines (while they work). In our hearts, when 21st century connections fail. In our reconnection at UUFG when the storm has passed.
Thursday would be a great time to let me know if there is something you really need that you think UUFG might be able to help with. Or, more up my alley, if you need to talk. If you want to chat for a little while, please call me.

It is a blessing you were born.

It matters what you do.

Your experience of the divine is true.

And you don’t have to go it alone.

With much respect and love,
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Our UU Water Ceremony and Ingathering -- Sept 3!

It’s Coming! Our annual Water Ceremony to be celebrated with an all ages service at UUFG on Sunday, September 3. On that day, I invite you to bring a small container of water, symbolizing a place where water has been important for you, or a location where water is pivotal to the wellbeing of our the planet. If you are unable to bring water, there will be a pitcher at the service so that you may pour water remind you of the place that you hold in your heart. What follows is from the Rev. Krista Taves’ recent column about the origins of the Water Ceremony (sometimes called the “Water Communion”)*. May her words help us more fully to appreciate this 40-year old UU tradition.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, 2nd wave feminism transformed Unitarian Universalism. While our faith was always liberal, always progressive, always slightly ahead of the curve in many ways, it was also steeped in patriarchal assumptions. There were very few women ministers. Women were directed towards stereotypically female leadership roles, like Fellowship and Religious Education. Our hymnal still used “men” as the generic for humankind. There was also a strong mind/body split in our worship services. . . .

“In 1977 the Women in Religion Conference, attended by lay and ordained women, began raising the bar. They asked for a sexism audit of the Unitarian Universalist Association. They demanded that time and energy be spent on supporting women in ministry. They expressed the need for a gender neutral hymnal.

“In congregational life, UU women began intentionally moving into non-raditional leadership roles to bring about the changes they wanted to see, including changes to Worship. . .They wanted a more spiritual focus, a balance of the head and heart, and they wanted more ritual because it was one of the most effective ways of creating worship that celebrated our embodied selves.

“One of those rituals was the Water Communion. At a women’s gathering, attendees [brought] water from a place that was spiritually significant to them. During the service, each person [shared] why the water was spiritually significant for them. Then they poured some of their water into a communal bowl to signify that all things are connected, including our yearnings, our love, even our suffering.

“The Water Communion has been adopted by most Unitarian Universalist churches. . . celebrated at the beginning of the church year. [But] over time, the Water Communion developed into a travelogue. . . The service became more like a show and tell of where we went for the summer. The service became less spiritual and more classist because it held up who had the means to have the most spectacular vacation. . . Then as now, some of our members . . .can’t afford expensive traveling vacations. [The ceremony] was experienced as a ritual that divided more than it unified.

“In congregations across North America, ministers and lay people have been revising the Water Communion to . . . to reverence the natural world and our interconnectedness with it and each other. The Water Communion has been transformed back to a simple ritual that holds up our radical interdependence, our embodiment of the sacred, and our responsibility to care for each other and the earth.”

At UUFG on September 3, people of all ages will celebrate the ways in which water helps in our renewal, calls us to justice, and connects our hearts with those who have gone before. I look forward to sharing this ritual with you all.

Rev. Maureen

*Rev. Krista Taves serves the Unitarian Congregation in Quincy, IL, for which her column was written. The column is used by permission and has been edited here slightly for length.

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