The mountaintop of depression, 9/11 and Syria, and more

Truth-telling tales

The Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom experiments with a new metaphor for depression.

So what if being depressed is like being on the top of a mountain? The sun is blaring down on you and there’s no shade to hide in. You feel so vulnerable; so exposed. You’re being buffeted by the winds, and the sides are so steep that there’s no way down. You’re trapped. And from this vantage point you have a commanding view, but it all looks like fetid swamps and industrial parks. (A Minister’s Musings, September 12)

The Rev. Meg Riley remembers an adolescent moment of despair.

When I was a sophomore in high school, undone by the relentless teasing of an older relative, unsure that I would ever leave the barren wasteland of my inner-city high school, I ingested a bottle of aspirin and prepared to die. . . . [On] this Suicide Prevention Day. . . . I sit with the knowledge that the impulse towards suicide is a temporary one, but sometimes the results of that impulse are permanent. And, most of all, I sit with deep and abiding gratitude to be alive. (Quest for Meaning, September 10)

As he awaits word of his sister’s passing, Doug Stowe reflects on their early years together, and their deep connection.

She has always been my big sister, even after I grew much taller in height. She was always the creative one, the artistic one. While I majored in Political Science, she majored in art. When we were little, she colored on my paper. There was no meanness in it. She knew that my paper needed her help. There were only 18 months between us and I’ve really not known the world without her being in it. (Wisdom of the Hands, September 10)

Engaging world events

On September 11, the Rev. Theresa Novak encourages the nation to “reclaim our courage, our hope and our souls.”

Wake up from terror,
September morning.
Stir our hearts with love
It’s time to banish fear
Hatred and revenge
The future has to call us
To begin again to live. (Sermons, Poetry and other Musings, September 11)

Twelve years ago, the Rev. Lynn Ungar’s young daughter said that the 9/11 attackers “should have made a better choice.” Now, Ungar wonders if we are learning to make better choices.

In this particular moment, Wednesday, 9/11/2013, it seems like President Obama, Congress and various heads of state have acknowledged that there might be a better choice. That there could be solutions that don’t involve blowing things up. That it’s OK to be mad, but that doesn’t mean we need to hurt people. That we could pause, and take a breath, and work toward a solution that is better than what happens when you rely on hurting people to tell the world how you feel. (Quest for Meaning, September 11)

The Rev. Tom Schade sees, in President Obama’s recent speech about Syria, a sign that we are moving beyond the 9/11 era of reactive aggression.

For most of the last 12 years, we have been told by our government that our country was in grave danger and that we were vulnerable to terrorist attacks. . . . Last night, we heard a more realistic and more objective President. . . .

There was a time that the memory of September 11 was terrorizing, evoking the fears of that day, the threat we faced.  This day is a now for memory, for sadness, for grief.  As it should be. (The Lively Tradition, September 11)

As she considers the situation in Syria, Rebecca Hecking can only embrace its complexity, and resolve to do what good she can.

At the end of the day, I’m left as an individual bystander, bearing witness and occasionally shedding a tear. I’m left with an imperfect world that will always be so, and the task of holding conflicting ideas simultaneously in my head. Cognitive dissonance, thy name is Syria. . . . Perhaps the best that we as individuals can do in the face of it all is to do exactly this, to hold those questions as questions and refuse to succumb to the oversimplified, Twitter-verse of quick and easy answers. (Breath and Water, September 12)

On the newly formed UU Climate Action Network’s blog, the Rev. Fred Small argues that we need a larger vision.

By placing the burden and responsibility on the individual, “Reduce, reuse, recycle” diverts attention from corporations and governments, which suits them just fine. . . . Changing a light bulb is good. Changing a senator is better.  (The UU Climate Action Network, September 12)

Congregational life

The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston has a new blog about its transition to a multi-site congregation, intended as a resource for other UU communities. An initial post outlines the Catch-22 for small congregations.

For small congregations, it means that because the congregation is small, they can’t afford to hire the kind of staff that will grow them to the size where they could afford that kind of staff. And so our smaller congregations try everything they can think of to grow out of that small congregation box. And they almost never succeed. (How We Do Church Now, September 9)

The Rev. Tom Schade is in the process of joining a UU congregation in Ann Arbor, and finds a note that doesn’t ring true in our language about membership.

The people that I have met seem to be good solid folks I would like to have friends and companions.  But I don’t really know them. . . . The rhetoric about joining a religious community sets an expectation. It makes signing the book feel a little hypocritical, as in: “I say I am committing to these people, but I don’t really have the basis to make that commitment.” (The Lively Tradition, September 10)