On a sad note, we lost a friend, Glenn Justus, in March. A fine musician, also builder of beautiful harps (maybe a leprechaun at heart from his heritage). He was a guitarist, harpist, story teller.
His parents immigrated from Ireland to Appalachia, so his talents came from both origins. Our Archives hold notices of Glenn playing for us at the Pine Grove building. He performed in the region for decades, including children’s concerts, through library programs.
In April, volunteers across “Klamath Country” were recognized, including our own Michael J. Fitzgerald, and friend, Marc Kane, executive director of Klamath Basin Senior Citizens’ Center. Congratulations!
This July Pat and David Hedelman celebrate 21 years of shared pastorship of Congregational United Church of Christ, on Garden Street. Organized in 1898, the building was constructed in 1932. Good Wishes dear friends & your Beloved Community.
On Solstice night, I realized I’d spent most of my day inside, offering my last worship service with you in the morning, followed by RVUUF’s coffee hour and a Father’s Day celebration at my dad’s house. So I set off for a walk, on the longest day of the year, with the sun still bright even at 8pm.
The first thing I encountered as I stepped outdoors was a small bush of yellow flowers, the kind I had woven into a sun wheel on the first summer solstice I celebrated as a solitary pagan, not yet a Unitarian Universalist, 18 years ago. Those first few times I celebrated the turning of the earth felt joyful and maybe a little silly, like I was playing make-believe somehow, even as I was honoring the very concrete, scientifically demonstrable change of seasons. In the beginning, my pagan practice definitely harkened back to the imaginings of my childhood, and while my logical mind at first found this suspect, I’ve come to see that this simply meant I was tapping back in to a way of knowing that I had left behind. Believing in magic, in the power of ritual, of words, of intention-setting, doesn’t feel silly to me anymore, but rather a return to a truth that has lived in my heart, even when my head was taught to discount it. As I walked this solstice night, I plucked a yellow flower and carried it with me.
Later on my walk, I encountered a blackberry bush, many blackberry bushes, mostly done with their flowering, now bursting with fruit, fruit still as green as the plant’s leaves. I was reminded of the theme of the morning’s service, “Coming to Fruition” and I couldn’t help feeling a certain kinship with those little green berries. Yes, they are berries, but they aren’t ready yet. Yes, I am a minister, but still a green one. To have you receive me and affirm me, in all my greenness, has been a gift and a blessing. I can’t help wanting to hurry the seasons of my life along, because it felt so good to work for my purpose and calling, held by and holding this community of fellow seekers on the quest for truth and meaning and lives that express the fullness of our principles. For the first time in a long time, I felt myself living a life that was whole, a life where I could braid family and community and purpose together into my vocation, my ministry. And yet, it is time now for me to pause in being a minister, so I can finish learning how to be the best minister I can be. I want to be a ripe berry now. But instead, I follow the wisdom of the seasons. To everything, turn, turn, turn… And I am still in the season of my learning.
My solstice walk reminded me of the wisdom of my Goddess, the living Earth. She is there for me, as long as I take time to look, as long as I follow Her whisperings in my own heart. She called me outside that night to remind me, yes, I have been on this journey a long time, and yes, there is still a ways to go. Over the next year, as I step away from this community to allow you to take back reigns of the ministry we’ve shared together this church year, I’ll finish my Masters of Divinity at Starr King. I’ll prepare myself to come before the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee of the UUA and receive their blessing on my ministry, which could happen a year from now, or two, or more, depending on how the journey unfolds. I’ll try not to hurry myself, as the Earth never hurries, but turns at Her own steady pace. I’ll tend my family and my studies, my garden and my calling. I’ll miss tending our community together. I’ll miss you. And yet, I’ll trust the process. When we meet again, I’ll be a ruddier berry, less green, pink even, but still not fully ripe. There is a season, turn, turn, turn…
It is hard to say goodbye from so far away. My thoughts, not to mention my physical body, are planted now in Washington State, the lands of the Duwamish, Stillaguamish, Coast Salish, and Muckleshoot, with Tahoma (aka Mount Rainier) out my window, and my father at center of my care and tending. He’s growing stronger with the treatments and pain management he’s receiving for his cancer, and I’m grateful to be a part of his process of healing, though we are told he will not ever be cured. Even in this season of burgeoning life, Death is always present, and I’m learning to dance with Her as well, to savor the moments She gives us before taking it all away. Being unable to deny that Death is waiting, I’m learning, makes the beauty of life stand out all the more clearly. I cherish these moments with my dad, and I’ll always be grateful to you for giving me space to allow these moments to unfold. I can only hope and pray that as I grow into the fullness of my ministry, I will find a congregation that honors my wholeness as a human being as fully as you have done over these last months. I have found ways to hold you, even as I put my family first. I have found the limits of what I could do for you at this time, and you respected those limits and encouraged me to live within them. You affirmed my ongoing ministry even as I didn’t have as much to give as I had before, or as I had wanted to now. A year ago, I did not expect any part of where I find myself today. After another turning of the wheel of the year, I look forward to seeing who we all become.
In June 2004, a community organization, the Chiloquin Visions in Progress, had the grand opening and dedication of the Chiloquin Community Center, in Chiloquin. As quoted on our Sunday ZOOM, May 16, 2021, from Mariame Kaba, ”Every vision is a map”.
Let let us acknowledge two of our own for their years of, “mapping” efforts for CVIP, Sally and Chuck Wells, THANK YOU!
We open our Sunday services acknowledging the First People—the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin— who occupied the land the USPS now calls Klamath Falls, and its environs.
The April 2021 SMITHSONIAN magazine had an article, “THE PROMISE of O K L A H O M A—How the push for statehood led a beacon of racial progress to oppression and violence”.
In the article, I found an answer to a lifelong, woeful question. Why are some humankind so destructive, seemingly obsessed to hurt / harm others? My lifelong thought: A baby cries for nourishment & comfort—basically for survival. Then transformation begins.
From article I learned that in 1893 a former Massachusetts senator, being mystified by Native Americans’ practices of sharing resources without trying to exploit them for personal profit, reported to the board of Indian Commissioners in Washington,
“There is no selfishness, which is at the bottom of civilization” He added, “Until this people consent to give up their lands…they will not make much progress”.
Many of us know the reality of his, “progress” reeks of world colonization, aka profits for the selfish. UU’s have seven (soon maybe eight) principles, all totally void of selfishness!!!
Sunday, May 16th, our joint ZOOM service with Grants Pass UU’s, was, “Abolition: Our History and Our Future”. Talk about connection: magazine article & service topic. After service, at “chat”, one gent noted the answer usually is the upbringing of any human baby.
Richard Rodgers’ music and Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics got it perfect in their South Pacific song, “YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT”. Gentlemen, AMEN!
Having turned 83 in April, I share these words of Jack Nicol, who passed 31 December 2020: “It’s a big job keeping up with a young heart and mind”. (H&N Feb. 2021)
’Tis May. Let’s remember Mother’s Day. “Moms make life half as hard, and twice as good.” (A necklace)
One gift from my mother was laughter. From my birth to first grade she kept an annual diary (just discovered) of my young life. No words of first tooth or first steps. She shared comical moments.
Fear not. I have scrapbooks of unending items, cards from baby shower, etc. etc. No wonder I’m into archiving!
I laughed SO heartily as I perused her excellent penmanship. I shared some of her trials and tribulations during April family celebrations: two dinners and three cakes. (Love that math.)
Seems early on I fell off of, or out of beds. My first fall at about four months, a bachelor uncle was living with us. He was to watch me. Claimed he heard a thud, & rationalized a dropped shoe. Really? Mom wore sz-5. How much thud can such make?!?
Not in diary, but definitely my memory, just prior to 2nd grade. A high school neighbor girl was pushing me on my best pal’s backyard swing. Suddenly I went flying to the ground. I was rushed to the ER. Fortunately no concussion or broken bones.
For my family, the written witness of my early falls, was pure testimony to any wackiness I’ve ever or will demonstrate. We all laughed uproariously! (I’m certain such will continue.)
Another written witness was the tale of 2 1/2 -3 year old having to pee, AND unable to refrain from using her father’s hat. Mom did not clarify if it was his winter hat, or his summer Panama. (Both useful in Detroit weather patterns.)
Reading the diary I rationalized that the Panama, set upside down, might seem to a child, “my size, suiting my need”! (I have yet to share this with grandsons.) But, I’m still snickering. Thanks Mom!
Let’s offer THANKS to Sustainable Klamath and the Mills Neighborhood Association for Earth Day Activities. Chief Seattle stated:
“MAN DOES NOT WEAVE THE WEB OF LIFE, HE IS MERELY A STRAND IN IT. WHATEVER HE DOES TO THE WEB, HE DOES TO HIMSELF”.
Then there was Eleanor Roosevelt. In her day some Right leaders blasted her actions as, ‘unworthy of an American mother’. As a mother Eleanor bore six children, losing one in infancy. (She and I share loss of a child.)
In reality her entire life is national and global heritage. Author Tonya Bolden wrote, “Except for her clothes, nothing about ER has gone out of date. She fought battles still being fought, and our world is still not at peace”. (My hope: The world’s young folks!)
Post-Chief Seattle, and prior to UUA Principle 7, Eleanor stated,
“HATE AND FORCE CANNOT BE IN JUST A PART OF THE WORLD WITHOUT HAVING AN EFFECT ON THE REST OF IT”.
Whatever your age, this from Eleanor:
“KEEP YOUR GREATEST GIFT—CURIOSITY—ALIVE” SHARE YOUR STORIES FOR MOTHERS and MOTHERS-OF-HEART HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY
“Since 1675 this American experiment with race and racism is so off-balanced, it makes people think they have to attain a PhD to learn how to be human.” – Kokayi Nosakhere, community organizer and Black man living in Southern Oregon, 2021
Most Americans in 2021 acknowledge racism remains a prevalent societal ill. The question becomes how to address it. Nosakhere proposes seven insights and suggests several personal practices to effectively interrupt basic American socialization, which makes racists of us all.
Learn what a soul wound is and why everyone in America has one.
Learn the history of the idea of race in American history and society.
Learn functional definitions of culture and the new boundaries emerging around said idea as humanity moves towards self-actualization.
Learn how to manage your actions on social media to foster the healing needed in America around the ideas of race/racism.
Learn the 11 tactics Dr. DiAngelo has outlined which reinforced a whiteness-centered worldview. Explore the counters to said tactics designed to decenter whiteness and expand our collective capacity to enter greater and greater humanity.
This $225 class has been discounted to $75 for Southern Oregon UUs. To register for this class, make your $75 payment here: https://www.paypal.me/KokayiNosakhere Make sure to provide your contact information so Kokayi can send you the Zoom link to Monday’s workshop.
Objective: Develop white-bodied allies in Oregon who understand their personal responsibility to heal the American soul wounds and interrupt supremacy socialization practices.
Show LOVE to yourself.
After living in the Rogue Valley for the past two years, I know who it takes to inspire the growth and development most of us can agree on social media many of us want. However, the bridge we all need is a human process which creates the allies strong enough to communicate the benefits of cultural diversity. A collection of open minds can take the next step and envision the practical steps necessary to get there.
As you read in my book, “When and Where We Feel Safe,” first responders inside the organizing planning sessions for the 12th Annual Beloved Music Festival, provided me with the experience of a BIPOC Sanctuary. The space was the brainchild of four young inter-racial geniuses. Their experiment paved a way to showing we pioneers how to fortify BIPOC persons in a sea of white bodies; how to regulate the fear/freeze/flight response and implement the healing modalities shaped at the festival into our community life.
Protect the vulnerable.
Before you is opportunity to do what has never been done before – in Oregon: heal the white racial trauma which lives here. Ashland is home to the pilot program of this healing experiment: a BIPOC Sanctuary. Ashland is the first community to write the next chapter in this story of providing “medicine for the people.” Eugene, Oregon can be the second. Salem can be the third. Bend can be the fourth.
Here is what I am suggesting you do next.
Include the marginalized.
Enroll into the Seven Insights into Anti-Racism Work ZOOM-based class coming up Monday, April 12, 2021 at 6 pm. Cost is $225 per student. (Because you are a UU member, this class is discounted to $75 with a limit of 10 persons total.)
The following endorsement comes from a student of Solsara, who attended a three day event, Interrupting Whiteness, held in the third weekend of February 2020. I attended that event and made a few contributions towards this transformative experience.
“It is my absolute honor to be writing about a very inspirational man and his work. Not only a heart-centered and deeply caring person, his writing and teachings are articulate, passionate, and researched. His investment in his Oregon communities is a humanitarian gift. I imagine he left a large footprint in Alaska, as well; his soulful presence is singular. Indeed, the work he is doing is desperately needed by a society that has been drafted upon marginalized backs. And: he is woefully alone. What measurement of courage, what immensity of spirit is needed, to heal and teach in this environment? In my mind, this makes him a Warrior Leader.
Kokayi Nosakhere is leading by example, through his sharing of life experience as a POC, and by professorship. He is breaking holes in the institutions and spaces that perpetuate a white racialized America, while providing sanctuary for his Brothers and Sisters. Kokayi’s writing is raw and honest, and commands a white audience to listen. He commands us to be still and go within. He writes from a very examined and direct place, which requires – to even begin to enter dialogue with him – to question what it is to be white, or experiencing white privilege. He is teaching us about centuries of oppression from a boundaried place. He is teaching us about who we are, in collective relationship to one another, from a boundaried place. He is doing and sharing his healing, from a boundaried place. And because he is so carefully boundaried, Kokayi is potentially one of the most compassionate people I have ever met. Thank you for who you are, and for all of your work. In our brief knowing of each other, you have changed my life. I expect I am just a humbled one among many. Much love.”
NOTES FROM THE ARCHIVES, PLUS UPDATES ON SOME PAST MEMBERS
Spring has officially arrived. Let’s start with THUMBS UP for two former board members. First, SALUD to Wendy & Bob Millard.
On March 13th Wendy emailed: “On the 15th we have a crew coming to rake the soil on our 3 city lots below our house, between us & city park. Next they’ll sow $600 worth of wildflower seed I bought, & tamp it into soil. The hope is a beautiful field of wildflowers between us and the park, and a field kids from the park can pick wildflowers for their moms. (Seed is specially formulated for arid climates, drought). The city’s working with us, and have agreed to help with sprinklers.”
The March 13th H&N published an education piece, printed over three pages. On page 7, “U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley recently acknowledged Chiloquin Junior/Senior High School Principal, Scott Preston, Chiloquin Elementary Principal Rita Hepper, and VP Janelle Emard, for helping more than 70 Chiloquin families last summer during the fire”. They were presented a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Early in his career Scott was a UUFKC board member, & outside his classroom, cameras in hand, he shot county schools’ athletic highlights; also assisted schools with year books. Scott, et al, SALUD!
In the March 13th H&N, a big photo & caption recognizing 5th anniversary of Blue Zones’ Launch in Klamath Falls, & our certification: Blue Zones Community. Klamath County celebrated having been awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health. YAHOO!
Way back, pre-SOUUP, any given summer Sunday, UUFKC, “closed shop”, & car-pooled to Ashland for a RVUUF service. One trip, our ride included a loud, clunk, clunk under the hood. (That day, passengers’ & our guardian angels did extra duty. We safely arrived & returned to the Basin.) First thing Monday we were at auto shop. Can’t recall which, but an engine-mount bolt was either loose OR lost!
Had a call today, (03/29), from Angela Foxhawk. She went to her Oregon work position in Beaverton in 2020, a month prior to COVID. Now she’s had 14 months there in unemployment benefits.
Best news: They found a house, in Albany. Their offer was accepted this past weekend. Months of search found them looking farther and farther from Beaverton area.
Briefly, she’ll commute to work in the department’s Wilsonville office. Once settled in new home, she’ll work from home.
Her hope: To eventually transfer to the investigations’ aspect of abuse of unemployment benefits. With a name like Foxhawk, she has a good start. Plus, previous extended work years in Colorado’s unemployment benefits. (She shared the two states’ laws vary greatly. Definitely not as one would assume.)
To keep up with Peace Readers I continued reading Toni Morrison’s, BELOVED; also read, TO BE A SLAVE, by Julius Lester; and viewed all OPB’s BHM programs.
Lester’s book gave me a reality check: “The ancestry of any black American can be traced to a bill of sale. In many instances that cannot be done.”
He wrote that in the early 19th century the American Slavery Society, and other northern abolition groups, took down stories of thousands of blacks, who escaped the south. Those narrations swayed northerners’ attitudes about slavery, and the eventual Civil War. Interest in the ex-slaves stories diminished until 1930’s, when a Federal Writers’ Project interviewed former slaves, still alive & willing to speak.
In 1963 Lester learned the 1930’s narratives were kept in the Archive of Folksong, at the Library of Congress. The Writers’ Project had verbatim narratives, preserving speech patterns, language, giving posterity the “earthy directness communication”. (Lester pg. 14-15)
In the 19th century the white abolitionists, in many instances, rewrote, “…to conform to literary standards of the time”. (Lester pg. 14) And they faced this possibility: If former slaves were quoted verbatim, that provided, “…ammunition for arguments of black inferiority”. (Lester pg. 14)
The goal of slave owners’ was to break the spirit of another human. But, such produced a rampant misfortune, FEAR—that slaves would rise up. In a word, owners created their own hell, then had to live in it.
Aisha Hauser, MSW, of the UU Church of the Larger Fellowship’s Lead Ministry Team (a trio), wrote in a February 26 email she’s reading James Baldwin’s, THE FIRE NEXT TIME. (Peace Readers, take note for a possible selection.) She shared, “Baldwin’s stark truth-telling resonated deeply with me. I have been on a mission as a truth-teller to create a vision of this faith’s potential.”
She closed with: “I believe that if UUism can be the place where whites live authentically and learn to sit in discomfort and face the realities of targeted communities and take substantive (not white savior) action toward dismantling systems of oppression. For folks living with targeted identities, my wish is UUism offers a place of solace and care for their spirits.”
In our monthly meetings, Southern Oregon UU Partnership kids from Klamath Falls, Grants Pass & Ashland congregations get to practice Unitarian Universalism in community lighting a chalice, sharing joys & sorrows (“roses & thorns”), and practicing living our faith. In creating and voting on our covenant, our kids are learning about what this free faith means.
As we voted over Zoom — thumbs up for yes, down for no, sideways for unsure — the folks with down and sideways thumbs often shared that they were worried that these promises might be hard to live up to. This is the beauty of the practice of covenant: when we fail to live up to our promises, we can use our covenant to call us back into right relationship. The video below is the covenant reminder we’ll use at the beginning of each Zoom session on the first Sunday of the month at 10am. To register your child for Kids’ SOUUP, click here.
Had a recent, brief discussion with a fellow UU. We are confused by Christians turning to the Old Testament, when Jesus is the New Testament. In Basic Principles of Christianity my frosh year in a Catholic liberal arts college for women, Sister Catherine Clare shared Jesus was the, “NEW LAW”. Does that suffice for the New Testament as well?
Moving along, Jesus’ teaching—LOVE—-seems most appropriate for the Valentine month.
In our past some in our fair county wanted the Ten Commandments on a wall of the commissioners’ chamber in the Government Center. (Still there.)
So, I share a story of a UU and Jew. Both lovers of teaching, respectful of one another, leaders of their spirit communities. Ben Kerns brought Unitarianism to Klamath Falls; Paul Warshauer was the rabbi-figure for the Jewish community.
In 1997 Ben wrote a Letter to Editor. From our Archives: “Recently a letter appeared in these columns stating that Thomas Jefferson’s addition of freedom of religion to our Constitution did not mean that he would not allow prayer in the schools or the Ten Commandments on the walls. Jefferson was a Unitarian, as were four other of our presidents, and believed firmly in separation of church and state. He would not condone one religion’s prayers or the Christian Ten Commandments on the wall of a government building.”
Ben concluded quoting some Jefferson writings on the issue.
Paul responded, and was published September 4th: “With great respect to Ben Kerns in his letter of Aug. 28, the Ten Commandments are not Christian. They were given to the Hebrews (Jews) at Sinai by God and brought down the mountain by the great Jewish sage and leader, Moses. In point of fact, Moses delivered the commandments and the rest of the Hebrew Bible called the “Old Testament” by some for all humanity to learn from and utilize. So, Moses was one of us. For the record, Ben did call many of us in the Jewish community to apologize. Now that’s being a mensch (a good person who does good deeds). The rest of the letter was OK.
(signed) Paul Warshauer”
“NO VOICE WITHOUT ALL VOICES” (That from the late William Stafford, Poet Laureate of Oregon and the USA.)