The summer`s oppressive heat was a distant memory,
and the golden leaves promised the world full of beautiful adventures.
They made me believe in miracles."
As the days shorten and the calendar turns into October, my mind is turning to our Soul Matters theme for the month, Cultivating Relationships, and our commitment to move towards engaging the congregation around vision, mission, covenant and 8th principle. This month I am keenly aware of the Materials That Hold Us Together. Together these items call us to a certain kind of mindfulness—attention to others, ourselves, and the world around us. These things, these ways of being can guide us into the fall, into the holidays, and the winter season which seems so far off but is just a blink of the eye away and those days will be upon us so soon!
Our theme invites us to move more deeply into understanding what it means for each of us individually and for all of us as a congregation as we seek to CULTIVATE RELATIONSHIPS. One with another, one towards us all. One together with the entirety of sentient and non sentient objects, things, seen and unseen realities.
We move because that is what we do as UU’s it is how we may engage parts of wider communities, both an inner life and an external one to join in solidarity within concentric circles of community, of radical love and welcoming. During this month that promises to be both challenging as COVID wanes and has upticks and as we continue be manipulated in divisive ways we have the opportunity to remain steadfast in positivity.
To be the beacon in the desert means a lot. To lift every voice and sing (may with your mask on) about love takes a lot. If we are true to our words then the things that matter most like our families, friends and community will take center stage. This ultimately is about who we love, like and care for. We, each of us has this chance to be the good in the world and relationally it can start right here.
We need you at UUCLV. We need volunteers and activists. We need willing pastoral care providers and worship leaders. Heck I'M saying it, we need you! This American life needs love. We need to do more and show more love. It comes in a multiplicity of ways. It comes when we show up. It comes when we seek to speak truth to power. It comes one on one when we engage one another.
In the early 1800s, our Universalist ancestor Hosea Ballou also lifted up these counter-cultural themes when he asked, “How are we bound up together?” He answered that salvation for each person is bound up in the community as a whole: “One’s lot is cast with the rest of the human race.” We can start to appreciate how radical his statements were when we notice that he preached that all of us are one organic whole and all people are essential to our salvation. No one is left behind.
As he wrote, “I neither expect nor desire perfect happiness while I see my fellow-man in misery.” Ballou’s words connected theology, social justice, and questions of our ultimate meaning or purpose. While much has changed in 200 years, our Universalist belief in our deep interdependence and interconnection hasn’t. It drives our justice work and how we center love in our interpersonal connections, our congregations, and in our work with our communities and this beautiful blue green planet of ours.
So, as we enter October and this deepening time of year, what are you listening for? What strands of how we are bound together, how we cultivate together is guiding you? How does this weave into the story of our congregation, our community, and our work in the world? I look forward to exploring these questions with you this month.
Peace, Love, and Blessings,
1. October 1 – 31: The Festival of the Dead, Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, known for its infamous 17th-century witch hunt, is still cloaked with an aura of magic and mystique, so it’s quite fitting that October marks the month-long Festival of the Dead celebrating the supernatural, concluding on Halloween.
2. October 5: Rubber Duck Race, Germany
Yes, you read that correctly. Each year, around 7,000 rubber duckies “gather” in Tübingen to “race” in the Neckar River. Want to join in on the fun? It’s open to anyone who has a rubber duck. Otherwise, you can rent one (or as many as you want) for 3€ (each) — just make sure to write your name on the duck. The race takes about 45 minutes and the winner receives a €1,000 voucher while the runners-up are also shown some prize love.
3. October 5: Republic Day, Portugal
This annual holiday commemorates the end of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic in 1910. The government holds a few ceremonial events, but overall, the national holiday offers the Portuguese a 24-hour reprieve from the daily grind.
4. October 7 – 9: Nagasaki Kunchi Festival, Japan
This 400-year-old festival celebrates the multicultural history of Nagasaki, incorporating Dutch influences as a nod to the city’s time as a Dutch colony.
5. October 11: The Círio de Nazaré, Brazil
Two million people participate in this festival in Belém dedicated to Our Lady of Nazareth. Fireworks, processions, flowers and good time mark the occasion.
6. October 20: The World Series, America
While the teams still have yet to be decided as do the cities, one thing is for sure: Major League Baseball’s leading American and National League teams will face off for the 116th edition of the World Series. The first pitch will be tossed on October 20 to mark the start of at least four (seven max) games.
7. October 26 – 27: Polar Circle Marathon, Greenland
Arguably the coolest marathon of them all, pun intended. Taking place in Kangerlussuaq at 66° northern latitude, the intense marathon in one of the most remote corners of the world has taken place annually since 2001.
8. October 27: Diwali, the Festival of Lights, India
This Hindu Festival, one of the most popular holidays in India, is celebrated by a few faiths. Indians place rows of clay lamps outside their homes in honor of the triumph of inner light over darkness/good over evil — quite heartwarming if we do say so ourselves. The five-day festival marks the start of the Hindu new year. In addition, fireworks spectacles about and homes contain even more incredible decor.
9. October 27: Masskara, Philippines
And another heartwarming festival! Masskara is characterized by smiley masks and colorful clothing and adornments as a way to banish the grief that swept the city of Bacolod, in the 1980s. Though the grief has passed, the holiday has lived on the city has even been nicknamed the “City of Smiles”.
10. October 31: Halloween
All Hallow’s Eve! In many places, kids put on costumes and go trick-or-treating. Yet there are traditions all around the world to celebrate the holiday derived from an ancient Celtic feast, many of which tie into the subsequent religious holidays that fall on November 1 (All Saint’s Day) and November 2 (All Soul’s Day).