Author: Rev. Samaya Oakley

How Do We Do This?

This has been a question that I’ve been pondering over the summer. There is just so much happening in the world, I wonder just how we are going to do this – to get through it all! We find ourselves in unprecedented times – we haven’t lived through a pandemic like this for close to 100 years, the western world has not lived through times like this since the end of the Second World War. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that there are those living in the world that live through what we would call unprecedented times as a matter of daily life. Talking with a friend of mine from Bolivia who is in her 50s, she tells me that she’s used to living through
coups, famine, and war and so are many people living around the world. It’s only us in the Western world that are facing this anew.

How Are We Going to Do This?

This has been a question that I’ve been pondering over the summer. There is just so much happening in the world, I wonder just how we are going to do this – to get through it all! We find ourselves in unprecedented times – we haven’t lived through a pandemic like this for close to 100 years, the western world has not lived through times like this since the end of the Second World War. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that there are those living in the world that live through what we would call unprecedented times as a matter of daily life. Talking with a friend of mine from Bolivia who is in her 50s, she tells me that she’s used to living through
coups, famine, and war and so are many people living around the world. It’s only us in the Western world that are facing this anew.

A Blessing for the Summer

To say that this coming year will be a summer that will be unlike any other we have experienced in our lifetimes (for most of us), is an understatement. As I prepared to write this column, I began to wonder about the message I wanted to share with you as your minister as we end this very strange church year and move into a time of respite, of embracing at least the part of our transcendentalist roots that focus on nature. The answer came clear to me as I looked at our Soul Matters packet on what it means to be a people of blessing. It’s known by a few titles: a Franciscan Benediction, or “Four-Fold Benedictine Blessing”, or “A Franciscan Benediction”. This was written by Sister Ruth Marlene Fox, a Benedictine nun, for a student group she led in 1985. It’s actual title is a “Non-Traditional Blessing”, and it seemed fitting that I offer them to you at these very non-traditional times as a blessing to move into our summer months with. Sister Ruth’s words are in italics, and I’ve added to them with my own blessing to you.

You Are a Blessing!

A blessing is whatever reminds us of the sacred loving presence that shines through all of us. Tara Brach’s post that contains a meditation on blessings of love.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought of what it means to move from the theme of what it means to be a people of wholeness to a people of blessing – particularly in this time of COVID-19 and how we are living through it.
I mean, think about it. This infection has forced us all to peel away all the layers of our lives. Everything about our lives has come to a complete standstill as we physically distance ourselves from each other. As we noted through the theme of wholeness, the cracks of our lives and our society are laid bare, stripped. We’re left with a number of things as our lives are laid bare – anxiety and fear are a part of what we feel in this place. Sometimes it’s just best to stick our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not really happening – and yet we’re faced with the stark reality of the fact that it is happening each time we listen to the news, go out into our neighbourhoods and walk.
We are also left with sympathy for those who have been affected – aware of those who have compromised immune systems who are completely isolated in their homes. Our hearts have been broken open as we take in the news of the shooting in Nova Scotia – for those who have lost their lives, been injured, and for those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy. Our hearts have grown bigger as we gain a new appreciation for our first responders, our health care workers – and yes, even our grocery clerks.
And we are moved to tears when we see the incredible acts of kindness that are shown. Each time we give wide berth to those we walk by, each time we physically distance ourselves in the grocery store, each time we see an incredible act of creativity with the hearts made in the spent blossoms on the grass, or the painted rocks, our hearts open to the sacredness of life, to the beauty of life.
I’ve seen it in our community – for all of those who spend countless hours helping people connect online – thank you! For all of you who phone one or two people in our community each day or week – thank you! For all of you who work so hard to make our services happen – thank you! For all of you who serve countless hours on our Board – thank you! For all of you who do so much for this community that we all love – thank you! You are a blessing!
As we continue to meet online, I want you to know that each one of us is a blessing to this world and to this community. Be held in the deep and abiding love of this community and of spirit. When your fears and anxiety well up and threaten to overtake you, take a moment and breathe. Breathe into the love and strength of the community that is South Fraser Unitarians. Know that we are holding you in a blanket of blessings and love.
Stay safe, be kind … and wash your hands!

What Does it Mean to be a People of Blessing?

Let’s just say that we’re skeptical about rushing in to fix things. We Unitarian Universalists understand the urge to restore what once was. Nothing is more human. Who doesn’t want to reverse the damage? Who doesn’t hold on to the humpty dumpty hope that all can be put back together again? But our faith teaches us that this is just not how the world works. Transition and change rule the flow of life. There is no going back. The current of time is just too strong.

What Does it Mean to be a People of Wholeness?

Let’s just say that we’re skeptical about rushing in to fix things. We Unitarian Universalists understand the urge to restore what once was. Nothing is more human. Who doesn’t want to reverse the damage? Who doesn’t hold on to the humpty dumpty hope that all can be put back together again? But our faith teaches us that this is just not how the world works. Transition and change rule the flow of life. There is no going back. The current of time is just too strong.