All Souls - Tulsa - All Souls Unitarian Church

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					 Simple Gifts
Feb. 2009
Vol. VI, Issue VI
                                         The All Souls Journal
Love Will Keep Us Together
                                                                       -by Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Senior Minister

                         D      o you remember the
                                popular 1970’s tune,
                         Love Will Keep Us Together?
                                                                  one’s character. Therefore, in his sermons and wor-
                                                                  ship he aimed to employ reason above all else in order
                                                                  to help people arrive at the “objective truth.” Unitari-
                         Well, in a sense, it is love that        anism became popular with and through many pro-
                         has kept two very different              fessors at Harvard University and other elite members
                         traditions, Universalism and             of Boston society, while Universalism spread across
                         Unitarianism, together. These                             America among common folk who
                         two churches                                              celebrated liberation from the notion
                         merged in the        “People need not                     of a wrathful, punishing God as well
mid-20th century and brought together                                              as from the ideas of human depravity.
two distinct religious cultures and tradi-      believe alike,
tions. The father of Universalism in                                               In 1961, these two traditions merged
America was Hosea Ballou who in the            to love alike.”                     into what is now the Unitarian Uni-
18th century spread, through joyful                                                versalist Association (UUA). A
preaching, the good news of God’s                                                  handful of churches did not join the
                                                         -David Francis
unconditional love of all people. He                                               merger, but most, like All Souls in
                                                   (founder of Unitarianism
believed Americans needed to hear                                                  Tulsa, did. Today there are more than
                                                      in Europe in 1658)
that they were not “sinners in the                                                 1,000 Unitarian Universalist (UU)
hands of an angry God” as Ameri-                                                   churches in America. Over the past
ca’s foremost Christian minister Jonathon Edwards                 four decades UU churches, individually and collec-
preached. Rather, humans are God’s creations in the               tively, have been working to meld these two traditions
gracious hands of a loving God. For Ballou, worship               into one united church. Some of these attempts have
was about glorifying God’s love through joyful ex-                been more successful than others. Many churches,
pression. Indeed, God’s abiding love and grace were               like All Souls in Tulsa, have maintained aspects of
something to celebrate!                                           each tradition. In that way, Unitarian qualities and
                                                                  Universalist qualities have co-existed at All Souls for a
A few blocks away in Boston was William Ellery                    long time. For example, we have classes on world re-
Channing, the foremost Unitarian theologian of that               ligions that focus completely on an intellectual study
era. For Channing, reason and education were the                  (more Unitarian in approach) and classes that explore
primary means to discovering truth and perfecting                 world religions by engaging in embodied spiritual

 February: Love Love Mapping                     When Loving’s Not Easy            Love, Actually       Love Personified
          Simple Gifts
    practices such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, mandala-      For decades, Unitarian and Universalist qualities
    making, prayer bead workshops,                                            have co-existed in our church and
    ritual, etc. (more Universalist).                                         together they have broadened All
                                                                              Souls’ education and theology.
    The inclusion of aspects of                                               Now, this beautiful blending of
    both of these traditions has                                              traditions is finding expression in
    added much to All Souls over the                                          our worship life as well. For those
    years. This fall, All Souls had the                                       who wonder if such distinctions
    unique opportunity to welcome a                                           in worship style will make us two
    few hundred new potential mem-                                            churches rather than one, I invite
    bers who came with a Universal-                                           you to look at all of our outreach
    ist theology into our church. The                                         programs, classes, parties, and
    worship team took this oppor-                                             events. There you will see people -
    tunity to explore changes in our                                         who worship at either hour - work-
    second Sunday worship service                                            ing, playing, learning, and loving
    to give it more of a Universalist                                        together. Many people enjoy both
    tradition of glorifying the good                                         styles and choose a different service
    news of God’s love through                                               from week to week. In the end, it
    joyful exuberance. As Senior                                             will not be just our programs that
    Minister, this has been one of                                           unite us, but it will be our spirit of
    the most rewarding and enlight-                                          love and service that will keep us
    ening liturgical challenges of my                                        together.
    ministry. Seeing the consistently
    strong attendance at both ser-                                              In the coming months, I look for-
    vices each week makes me realize                                            ward to developing more opportu-
    that there are hundreds of long-                                            nities to discuss these changes in a
    time All Souls members who are                                              dialogue about what it means to be
    finding our new second service                                              a member of the loving family of
    compatible with their spirituality                                          All Souls.
    and longings in worship.

         O     ur church program-year (September-May) is fashioned around nine        September - Faith
               theological themes. Each theme plays a part in the development of      October - Death
         a well-grounded religious and spiritual life. The church’s offerings each    November - Forgiveness
         month are by no means limited to the themes. However, these topics           December - Hope
                                                                                      January - Justice
         provide an axis around which many elements of church life gain more
                                                                                      February - Love
         meaning and depth. They provide us with a set of common stories and
                                                                                      March - Brokenness
         ideas that become elements of an ongoing community conversation. Be
                                                                                      April - Transformation
         warned: Seriously engaging these themes could transform your life!
                                                                                      May - Transcendence
                                                                                           February 2009

Love Mapping
                                                           -by Rev. Tamara Lebak, Associate Minister

                  A      ll romantic partnerships are
                         not created equal. Every
                   couple, no matter how long they
                                                        in building specific skills for planning and achieving
                                                        their goals as a team.

                   have been together, has strengths    Something incredible happens when a person takes
                   that seem to come naturally          responsibility not just for their own behavior but
                   and other areas that are what I      for the entire relationship. There is value in bring-
                   would call less developed. If        ing the church (through me or any of our ministers)
                   you are partnered, do you know       to help hold you and your partner accountable in
your strengths as a couple? My guess is that we are     your relationship. There is value in looking at your
all much more aware of our weaknesses than of           relationship with the assistance of a qualified pro-
our strengths. Although every couple has room           fessional who believes in both of you, as individuals
for improvement, I would love for most couples          and as a couple.
in our religious community to be confident that
they have strengths in most areas of their relation-
ships including communication, conflict resolution,
finances, and their sexual relationship.

There are thousands of quick fix self-improvement
books for romantic relationships. The problem
with these books is that they are about the theory
and not about you. When relationship advice is
generic and marketed to the masses it has little
relevance to the specific and unique issues that
arise in individual relationships. The kind of tools
that are most helpful are those that offer a map to
direct you to your healthiest relationship.

My suggestion is to do a couple checkup. Think of
it as your 30,000, 60,000, or 90,000 mile checkup
with a qualified relationship service professional. I
am trained in an assessment tool called Enrich that
maps out a couple’s individual responses to a vari-
ety of questions about their relationship and each
individual’s aspirations for the relationship. The
couple answers questions separately on a variety        Maybe it is time to think outside the box about what
of areas including cohabitation, communication,         is possible with the love relationship you already
finances, conflict resolution, support systems,         have. Maybe all you need is a map, drawn specifi-
leisure activities, and sexual relationship. Then I     cally for you.
meet with couples, for three to five sessions gener-
ally, to explore what is actual in the relationship,    I encourage you, if you feel called to do so, to email
the possibilities of what could be, and assist them     me ( to set up an ap-
                                                        pointment.                                               3
           Simple Gifts

    All You Need is Love
                                                                -by Rev. Debra Garfinkel, Minister of Pastoral Care
                           It’s easy:                                  knows how to do things properly. Listen. Imagine. Love. It’s
                           All you need is love, love.                 easy.
                           Love is all you need.
                                                                       It’s that simple and it’s that difficult. In the Chris-
                         The Beatles released this song                tian tradition, there are stories about Jesus repeat-
                         July 7, 1967, as part of a One                edly asking people to give up that to which they
                         World broadcast. They were                    cling in order to walk the Way of Love. This is as
                         leaders in a sweeping youth                   much about humility as it is about fear of poverty.
                         revolution of love. “Make love,               There is a poverty of spirit, Jesus says over and
    not war,” was one of the mantras of the time. This                 over again. Nowhere does he say that there won’t
    was in the midst of a growing anti-war movement                    be pain or sorrow. Instead, he offers the spiritual
    against U.S. involvement in Viet Nam and the Civil                 freedom of living a life of love and commitment
    Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement                          – living out what tugs at your heart, the reason you
    and the Gay Rights Movement. Interest in eastern                   are living. How can you discover that call to live
    philosophy, along with amazing advances in science                 fully and completely?
    and technology, contributed to growing curiosity, ris-
    ing awareness, and expanding consciousness. In the                 Listen. Imagine. Love. Practice, practice, practice.
    middle of all this literal explosion of words, ideas,              In this community of All Souls this is how we
    and assumptions came the influential, insistent voice              covenant to be together: to seek the truth in love
    of this Band of Four: All you need is love.                        and to help one another. All around us, in our
                                                                       families, and families of choice, in our faith com-
    How naïve. Love is not simple. Love is complex and                 munity, and in the larger community, we are called
    difficult and challenging. What is easy about that?                to practice the Way of Love together. Together we
                                                                       learn how to listen and to care more deeply and
    From a certain point of view, choosing to love is not              – most especially – to hold on loosely. We are here
    easy. Caring deeply, risking trust, opening oneself to             for each other when we lose a job, when we suffer
    another’s reality and experience of life takes energy,             humiliation, when someone dear to us dies. We are
    commitment, and devotion. When a person chooses                    here for each other when we reach a special goal,
    to walk with women and men and youth and little                    when we share our joy in relationship, when we
    children, and listen to them very carefully, that per-             conquer a fear.
    son must know that she or he is opening up to hear-
                                                                       Fear keeps us from risking, from daring to love.
    ing things that will upset them; it could turn one’s
                                                                       It’s helpful to me to think of the words of Mother
    world upside down. Then what? What happens to
                                                                       Teresa, who said:
    the person who chooses a life of inclusion and love
    over a life of self-protection, isolation and control?               The success of love is in the loving – it is not in
                                                                          the result of loving.
    I think we all know the answer to that question – an-                Of course it is natural in love to want the best
    ger, confusion, despair, depression – a nagging feel-                 for the other person,
    ing that there must be more to life but there’s just no              But whether it turns out that way or not does not
    energy for even beginning to think of it.                             determine the
                                                                         Value of what we have done.
    John Lennon composed the song Imagine, and when
    he sang it for the world he offered his summary of                 Let it be.
    all major faith traditions and much philosophy: Imag-              All you need is love. All together now:
    ine a world of people who share the wealth – the love – so         All you need is love. Everybody:
    that there is nothing to kill or die for. Let go of the control.   All you need is love, love.
4   Let go of the fear. Let go of thinking I’m the only one who        Love is all you need.
                                                                                                February 2009

Unitarian Universalist Black Pioneers
                                                                                            -by Cathey Edwards
“I believed in and I still believe in Unitarianism as the    Brown’s ministry is a tale of obstacles of every
religion of the future – the religion with an emancipating   form–racial, economic, historical, and personal. De-
message which all peoples of every race may understand and   spite constant struggles he set up two congregations
accept…” -Egbert Elthelred Brown (1875-1956)                 in Jamaica and one in Harlem during the height of
African American Unitarian Minister                          its cultural renaissance.

H     istories of race relations in America and in
      the Unitarian Universalist church ride along
similarly bumpy roads. The church has led the way
                                                             Today, the UU Sankofa Project, housed at Meadville
                                                             Lombard Theological School, collects information
                                                             on “the lives and works of Unitarian Universalist
for social justice, freedom, and equality at signifi-        ministers and laity of Color and Latino ancestries.”
cant times, and at other times acquiesced to the             Their website (
status quo of inequality in race relations.                  dex.php) displays many photos and biographies of
                                                             UU ancestors as well as current ministers.
Stories of All Souls’ vital work during the Civil
Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s are often
told in sermons and videos, as are the denomina-
tion’s efforts. Seldom told is the story of a church
unified by race in the call to uphold reason, love,
and freedom.
                                                             The UUA website has a Dictionary of Unitarian and
With the ordination of Joseph Jordan in 1889 in              Universalist Biography with a link to African American
Norfolk, Virginia, as a Universalist minister, begins        life stories (
the history of African Americans in the denomina-            duub/listafram.html).
tion. Originally ordained Baptist, Jordan read The
Plain Guide to Universalism. He discovered Univer-           Essential reading on African Americans in Unitarian
salism was “not a religion for the bigoted, but for          and Universalism is Mark Morrison-Reed’s Black Pio-
those who could accept that God’s love is extended           neers in a White Denomination (Boston, Skinner House
equally to all–the powerless and the powerful, the           Books, 1994). Through the histories of two African
oppressed and their oppressors.” Jordan and his              American ministers, Morrison-Reed describes the
church worked to set up missions and schools edu-            intersection of black history and the search for a
cating thousands of children in eastern Virginia.            liberal religion:

In Jamaica, at the beginning of the 20th century,             “The dominant motif in the black American experi-
Egbert Ethelred Brown felt the call to be a minis-           ence is the struggle for freedom: freedom from
ter. He credits his own temperament and an Ameri-            slavery, freedom from political and economic bond-
can uncle who was Unitarian as keys to his turn              age, freedom of self-determination, and freedom to
toward Unitarianism. Brown recalls in a 1949 ser-            participate fully in American life.” -Morrison-Reed
mon, “I was an inquisitive youngster and truthful
child. […] these two characteristics–inquisitiveness
and truthfulness–had much to do with the choice I
ultimately made to enter the Unitarian ministry.”
          Simple Gifts

    When Loving’s Not Easy                                                     -by Kate Starr, Youth Director

                         I  t’s easy to love people when
                            they’re being easy to love.
                         But what do we do the rest of
                                                             and turned to leave.

                                                             “Come back here,” I demanded in dismay. “Did
                         the time?                           you hear what he just said? He doesn’t like it when
                                                             you do that.”
                          Ours was among the families
                          who took refuge with loved         “But it’s better for my brain if I don’t think about it
                          ones during “The Ice Storm of      right now,” she explained.
    ‘07”. We lived with my daughter’s favorite cousin
    for a week. The two 7-year-olds got along famously       “I understand,” I said reassuringly, “but it’s not
    the first five days. Then I heard two tiny voices        good for his heart if you don’t. Your daddy and I
    yelling at top pitch, four small feet stomping in dif-   sometimes have to figure out ways to take care of
    ferent directions, and several doors slamming.           his brain and my heart. Let’s see if you two can
                                                             think of a way to take care of your brain and your
    “What’s going on?” I asked, intervening.                 cousin’s heart at the same time?”

    “It makes me mad that Margo never plays the              “Because I have no more love in my heart to give,”
    games I want to play, and it hurts my feelings when      my nephew pleaded, his eyes finally spilling over.
    she won’t talk to me about it,” my nephew said
    through trembling lips, his eyes brimming with           During disagreements, it’s easy for us to lose track
    tears.                                                   of our mature selves and react from our wounded
                                                             inner child, to abandon our spiritual nature and
    I was impressed
    with his articulation
    of feelings. I called
    my daughter into the
    room to arbitrate a
    discussion and asked
    him to repeat what
    he had told me.

    “I hate it that you
    never play the games
    I want to play, and
    I hate it when you
    walk away when
    I’m trying to talk to
    you,” he began the
    conversation bravely.

    “I don’t want to
    discuss it right now,”
6   Margo answered,
                                                                                              February 2009
revert to fight-or-flight instincts. It might feel good   2) Seek first to understand, then to be under-
to our primitive brain to do so, but it damages our       stood. Listen and ask questions. It will give you time
soul. So how do we tame the savage beast when             to cool down, and may give you insight and perspec-
she rears her ugly head?                                  tive you didn’t have before.

                                                                                    3) Determine what they
                                                                                    really need. Underlying
                                                                                    it all, what are their words
                                                                                    trying to protect? If you
                                                                                    look beneath behavior,
                                                                                    you’ll find emotions, and
                                                                                    under that are basic human
                                                                                    needs – to feel understood,
                                                                                    appreciated, loved, safe. If
                                                                                    you can find a way to meet
                                                                                    their need first, you can get
                                                                                    to a place of more rational

                                                                                    4) Be creative and open-
                                                                                    minded. Think win-win;
                                                                                    you will come up with a
                                                                                    solution neither of you
                                                                                    could have thought of on
                                                                                    your own. It’s miraculous.
                                                                                    For example, my nephew
                                                                                    and daughter came up with
                                                                                    a “Play Chart.” It divided
                                                                                    the day into segments, with
                                                                                    each party getting a turn
                                                                                    to decide what games or
                                                                                    activities occurred during
                                                                                    their assigned segment. The
                                                                                    solution met the organiza-
                                                                                    tional needs of the mind
                                                                                    and protected the heart.
1) Pray for the other person. Or at least give
                                                          5) Take the high road. Do you want to be right
them the benefit of the doubt and come from a
                                                          or happy? Thomas Fuller said, “When good people
place that assumes their best intention. Try a “lov-
                                                          have a falling out, only one of them may be at fault
ing kindness” meditation: “May (name) be well.
                                                          at first, but if the strife continues long, usually both
May (name) be healthy. May (name) be happy. May
                                                          become guilty.”
(name) live with ease.” Repeat as needed until your
heart softens. Seriously, try it right now about a dif-
                                                          It’s not easy to be loving or lovable all the time, but
ficult person. You’ll find it’s really hard to stay mad
                                                          it’s worth trying.
at someone when you’re praying for them.                                                                             7
          Simple Gifts

    ...Until Eating Disorders are History                                                       -by Nancy Parke

    February 22-28, 2009, is National Eating Disorders        In the United States nearly 10 million females and
    Awareness week. The theme of this year’s NED Aware-       1 million males are fighting a life and death battle
    ness week is …until eating disorders are history.         with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
                                                              Millions more are struggling with binge eating dis-

    T    he mission of NEDAwareness week is to
         ultimately prevent eating disorders and body
    image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding
                                                              order (BED) and exercise addiction. More than 80
                                                              percent of women are reported to be dissatisfied
                                                              with their appearance.
    eating disorders and improving access to treatment.
    Eating disorders are serious, life threatening illness-   Did you know?
    es – not choices – and it is important to recognize       - 40 percent of newly identified cases of anorexia
    the pressures, attitudes, and behaviors that shape        are in girls 15 - 19 years old.
    the disorder.
                                                              - There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in
    Research has shown that most eating disorders are         young women 15 - 19 in each decade since 1930.
    genetic in nature. Dieting behaviors and weight
    loss flip a chemical switch in the brain in those         - Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any
    individuals with the genetic tendency. Approxi-           mental illness.
    mately four out of 100 young women who diet will
    develop an eating disorder. The war on obesity has        - The incidence of bulimia in women 10 - 39
    created a hostile environment for the prevention          tripled between 1988 and 1993.
    and treatment of eating disorders.
                                                               - Only 6 percent of people with bulimia receive
                                                               mental health care.

                                                               - The peak onset of eating disorders occurs dur-
                                                               ing puberty and the late teen/early adult years, but
                                                               symptoms can occur as young as kindergarten, or
                                                               as late as middle age.

                                                               - Eating disorders affect people from all walks of

                                                               - Although eating disorders are potentially fatal,
                                                               they are treatable.

                                                               - Despite their prevalence, there is inadequate
                                                               research funding for eating disorders.

                                                               - Funding for eating disorders research, which
                                                               affects more than 10 million people, is approxi-
                                                               mately 75 percent less than that for Alzheimer’s
8                                                              disease, which affects 4.5 million.
                                                                                             February 2009
Dieting and the drive for thinness:                     National Eating Disorders Awareness week provides
- More than one-half of teenage girls and nearly        an opportunity to reach out to places of worship,
one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight          fitness centers, community centers, work places, and
control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting,      schools to bring messages of prevention, hope, and
smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives      recovery to millions of people.
(Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).
                                                        Make a pact with yourself to treat your body with
- The average American woman is 5’4” tall and           respect, and do things to promote positive body
weighs 140 pounds. The average American model           image. Give yourself a break from magazines and
is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.                    the mass media. Try a new physical activity just for
                                                        fun, not to lose weight. Stop weighing yourself, and
- Fashion models are thinner than 98 percent of         change your goal from weight loss to improving
American women (Smolak, 1996).                          your health (

- 42 percent of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thin-    For more information on ways to create a positive
ner (Collins, 1991).                                    environment for healthy living and support positive
                                                        body image contact the Dove Campaign, National
- 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat    Organization for Women’s Love your Body Cam-
(Meilin et al, 1991).                                   paign, and the National Eating Disorders Associa-
                                                        tion (NEDA).
- 46 percent of 9 - 11-year-olds are sometimes or
very often on diets, and 82 percent of their families   If you or a loved one is struggling with eating is-
are sometimes or very often on diets (Gustafson-        sues, it is important to seek professional help. The
Larson & Terry, 1992).                                  NEDA web site (http://www.nationaleatingdisor-
                                               has information on identification and
- 91 percent of women recently surveyed on a col-       treatment of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating
lege campus had attempted to control their weight       disorder.
through dieting; 22 percent dieted often or always
(Kurth et al, 1995).                                    Nancy Parke is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Parofes-
                                                        sional Counselor with the Adolescent Eating Disorders
- 95 percent of all dieters will regain their lost      Program at Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital.
weight in 1-5 years (Grodstein, et al, 1996).

- 35 percent of normal dieters progress to patho-
logical dieting. Of those, 20-25 percent progress to
partial or full-syndrome eating disorders (Shisslak
& Crago, 1995).

- 25 percent of American men and 45 percent of
American women are on a diet any given day (Smo-
lak, 1996).

- Americans spend more than $40 billion on dieting
and diet related products each year (Smolak, 1996).
     D   Sunday, Feb. 1
         Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no
         excuse of impossibility ... though weary, it is not tired ... though alarmed, it is not confounded ...
     A                                                                                              -Thomas à Kempis

         Monday, Feb. 2
     I   Love, the Supreme Musician, is always playing in our souls.                                  -Jalal Al-din Rumi

     L   Tuesday, Feb. 3
         Love is our true destiny... We will never be fully real until we let ourselves fall in love–either with

     Y   another human person or with God.                                                           -Thomas Merton

         Wednesday, Feb. 4
         We cannot do great things in life; we can only do small things with great love.                -Mother Teresa
         Thursday, Feb. 5
     H   Love is that flame that once kindled burns everything, and only the mystery and the journey
         remain.                                                                               -Angeles Arrien

     O   Friday, Feb. 6

     U   To love is not a state; it is a direction.                                                       -Simone Weil

     G   Saturday, Feb. 7
         Human love ... consists in this: that two solitudes protect and border and greet one another.

                                                                                                    -Rainer Maria Rilke

         Sunday, Feb. 8
         To love is always to feel the opening, to hold the wound always open.
                                                                                                -Friedrech von Leopold

         Monday, Feb. 9
     S   Love is the absolute affirmation of another’s meaning.                                -Madonna Kolbenschlag

         Tuesday, Feb. 10

     O   Love is the only force that can make things one without destroying them.            -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

     N   Wednesday, Feb. 11
         The task is not to be caring of others instead of thinking about oneself, but to learn how to love
         and care for ourselves as well as our neighbors.                                       -Carol S. Pearson

     L   Thursday, Feb. 12
         To name is to love. To be Named is to be loved.                                            -Madeleine L’Engle

     O   Friday, Feb. 13

     V   The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.
                                                                                                 -William Sloane Coffin

10   E   Saturday, Feb. 14
         For there is only misfortune in not being loved; there is misery in not loving.                 -Albert Camus
Sunday, Feb. 15
To love is to approach each other center to center.                                           -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Monday, Feb. 16
Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.
                                                                                                       -Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, Feb. 17
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
                                                                                              -Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Wednesday, Feb. 18
Love, the magician, knows this little trick whereby two people walk in different directions yet always remain
side by side.                                                                                       -Hugh Prather

Thursday, Feb. 19
Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves,
without any insistence that they satisfy you.                                                        -Wayne Dyer

Friday, Feb. 20
We are put on earth for a little space that we may learn to bear the beams of love.                       -William Blake

Saturday, Feb. 21
If I truly love one person, I love all persons, I love the world, I love life. If I can say to somebody else, “I
love you,” I must be able to say, “I love in you everybody. I love through you the world. I love in you also
myself.”                                                                                                -Erich Fromm

Sunday, Feb. 22
Everything wants to be loved.... You ever notice that trees do everything to get attention we do, except walk?
                                                                                                            -Alice Walker

Monday, Feb. 23
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.                                                         -Elie Wiesel

Tuesday, Feb. 24
This is to love: bear with a fault and not be astonished.                                                -Teresa of Avila

Wednesday, Feb. 25
The Holy Spirit is our harpist, and all strings which are touched by Love must sound.           -Mechtild of Magdeburg

Thursday, Feb. 26
Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.                     -Iris Murdoch

Friday, Feb. 27
We love because it’s the only true adventure.                                                            -Nikki Giovanni

Saturday, Feb. 28
Till I loved / I never lived - Enough.                                                                  -Emily Dickinson    11
            Simple Gifts

     Friendliness & Fun to be Found at Front Desk
                                                                                                    -by Laurel Williamson

     I f you come into the church office with any regularity, it is likely you see a number of different faces at
       the front desk. Any member of the Administrative Staff might be waiting to greet you, from Lei Rumley,
     our Membership Coordinator, to Nicole Ogundare, Reverend Lavanhar’s new assistant. We are blessed to
     have Joy Davis at the desk on Tuesdays. For years, we would see our beloved Virginia Phariss every Monday
     answering calls and greeting folks.

     Our newest regular volunteer is Shirley Jones, who attends the front desk on Tuesday and Wednesday
     afternoons. Shirley recently moved to Tulsa from Houston, Texas, and has been attending All Souls since
     last spring. On one of her first Sundays as a visitor, she filled out our Service is its Law forms, indicating that
     she would be interested in volunteering in the front office. Shirley, who taught school for 26 years, says she
     wanted an opportunity to meet nice people and help others, and the front desk is a great way to do both.
     She has fun here, because “every day is different” and there are so many activities that she always feels
     involved. Like all of our front desk volunteers, Shirley does a great deal to assist the church simply by being
     her cheerful self and answering calls.
     If you would like to help at the front desk, call the office, 743-2363. Available shifts include Mondays from 2:00 – 5:30pm,
     Tuesdays from 8:30 – 10:00am, Thursdays from 2:00 – 5:30pm, and Fridays all day.

                                                                     Shirley Jones
             Joy Davis

     Virginia Phariss                                                                      Nicole Ogundare
12                                     Lei Rumley
                                                                                                   February 2009

The Sienna Project                                      -by Martin Lavanhar, father of our Senior Minister

Y     ou may know the name Sienna, but what is
      The Sienna Project? Marlin’s brother Derek
is an expatriate living in Guatemala. Derek saw a
                                                            I love my kids and my grandkids and in Guatemala
                                                            it’s easy to see that Mayan parents love their chil-
                                                            dren just as much as we love ours. They want them
need and understood how to help fix it… and I               to have better lives and live in a better Guatemala.
had a need to memorialize and celebrate my grand-           Only with education can Mayans gain the power cul-
daughter, Sienna, in some way. So, we became the            turally, politically, and economically to bring about
Sienna Project, which will build five schools in five       change.

                                                            Sienna never had the opportunity to become a
                                                            teacher, but she will play a role in the education of
                                                            scores, then hundreds, and eventually thousands of
                                                            Mayan children. I think we’ve found the perfect way
                                                            to show our love not just for Sienna, but also for ev-
                                                            ery child who can go to school because The Sienna
                                                            Project exists. For me, it has the feeling of love’s
                                                            almost “perfect storm.”

                                                            I inivte you to visit our web site, www.siennaproject.
                                                                       com to learn more about us and see how
                                                                       you might contribute to this 501(c)(3) or-
                                                                       ganization. If you have questions, e-mail
years for Mayan children in the moun-                                  me at All Souls
tains of Guatemala. Later this month we                                will dedicate its Feb. 1 offering plate to
will go there to help construct our third                              The Sienna Project, and I will be in Emer-
school. Derek not only suggested the                                   son Hall that day to tell you more about it.
mission, he provides The Sienna Project                                I hope to see you there.
with an unusual synergy. We might have
chosen to work in the U.S., but how many
neophyte organizations have a man on the
ground in Guatemala especially with Derek’s ex-
perience? He’s our contractor, welder, electrician,
also our tour guide and translator.

After The Sienna Project built its first school in
Agua Viva, Guatemala, in 2007, UUA President Bill
Sinkford wrote to me about “turning grief [at the
loss of our granddaughter, Sienna] into hope” [for
Mayan children]. The Sienna Project is about one
little girl and a lot of Mayan children. It’s about a
country’s future and about transforming lives. It’s          Sienna Lavanhar, 3-year-old daughter of Marlin and Anitra
about hard work and as Bill said, it’s about grief           Lavanhar, died in May, 2006. Martin Lavanhar is her grand-
and hope, but most of all, it’s about love.                  father and Derek Lavanhar is her uncle.                      13
           Simple Gifts

     Love: Accommodation for the Genuine Article
                                                                                                   -by Brian Hill
     “For one human being to love another; that is          must be a shared plan and not a unilateral one. For
     perhaps the most difficult of all tasks, the           the love relationship to be healthy, there must be a
     ultimate, the last test and proof, the work            mutual loss of independence.
     for which all other work is but preparation.”
                                 -Rainier Maria Rilke       Many reading Keller’s advice will agree with him
                                                                                   in principle but demur in

     B    ecause love is the theme
          set for February, the
     natural inclination is to
                                                                                   application. Genuine self-
                                                                                   sacrifice can be a difficult
                                                                                   concept to get our minds
     write about romantic love in                                                  around when the culture
     recognition of Valentine’s                                                    largely discourages it. If it
     Day. But romantic love often                                                  is promoted at all, self-sac-
     seems to be so precarious                                                     rifice is usually depicted as
     and uncertain that sometimes                                                  an infrequent event. Usually
     it does not look like genuine                                                 unforeseen or unfortunate
     love at all. In many instances,                                               circumstances are needed
     perhaps romantic affinity or                                                  before we consider making
     romantic complicity would                                                     a deep sacrifice. The loss
     be more apt terminology.                                                      of independence is such a
     Those words better capture                                                    sacrifice. But, in the love
     the tenuousness of love that                                                  relationship, it is a sacrifice
     we read about in novels, see projected on the cin-     that one must make on a continuing basis in order
     ema screen, and experience in our lives.               to achieve a cherished goal.

     Nearly everyone at least imagines being in a ro-       Love’s critics and cynics abound in literature.
     mantic love relationship, if they are not already in   George Bernard Shaw opined that love was simply
     one. Psychologists tell us that we are looking for     a gross exaggeration of the difference between one
     completion in selecting a significant other. But the   person and everyone else. Social critic and profes-
     more independent among us often think we are           sional curmudgeon H.L. Mencken derided the con-
     complete in ourselves. If we take on a relationship,   cept of romantic love. Yet, Mencken was devoted
     it is more for enhancing what is already good. The     to his wife of many years. Happily, the majority of
     trick comes in adapting to another’s rhythms and       writers and philosophers have endorsed romantic
     cycles. That can be a challenge even in the most       love both in their works and in their lives.
     compatible of matches.
                                                            Those who speak of the melding of souls through
     In Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God: Belief    love may seem idealistic. But, if it is idealism, it is
     in an Age of Skepticism, the loss of independence      gratefully received by the lonely and the loved alike.
     is recognized as one of the costs of love. Keller      For it is in idealism that our minds and hearts have
     writes, “To experience the joy and freedom of love,    free rein. Romantic idealism can help revitalize
     you must give up your personal autonomy.” He           a flagging love or help sustain those upon whose
     endorses a course of changing ourselves, if need       door love has not yet knocked.
14   be, to adjust for the needs of our partner. This
                                                                                                    February 2009

Love, Actually                                                                                   -by Susan Tillman

W      hat do Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Flannery
       O’Connor, and a backward-walking chicken
have to do with All Souls?
                                                                 one another and through the practice of loving one

                                                                 Inspired by Teilhard de Chardin, Flannery
“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides        O’Connor chose a phrase from his Phenomenon of
and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love,      Man, “everything that rises must converge,” as the
and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man     title of a story and short story collection. Each
will have discovered fire.” -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin          story features a character who experiences what is
                                                                 often an ironic revelation of the divine. Though
“Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a visionary French Jesuit,       O’Conner is best known for her fiction and by what
paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher, who spent the        is called her Southern Gothic style, as she presents
bulk of his life trying to integrate religious experience with   the characters and culture of the Bible Belt, she
natural science, most specifically Christian theology with       felt her greatest achievement came from a skill she
theories of evolution. In this endeavor he became absolutely     developed as a young girl:
enthralled with the possibilities for humankind, which he
saw as heading for an exciting convergence of systems, an          “O’Connor described herself as a ‘pigeon-toed
“Omega point” where the coalescence of consciousness will          child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-
lead us to a new state of peace and planetary unity.”              alone-or-I’ll-bite-you complex.’ When O’Connor
                              -Anodea Judith (1881 to 1955)        was six she taught a chicken to walk backward,
                                                                   and it was this that led to her first experience of
It seems the day to which Teilhard de Chardin                      being a celebrity. The Pathe people filmed Little
refers, the one “after the mastery of winds, waves,                Mary O’Connor with her trained chicken [a buff
the tides and gravity” is dawning, partially as a                  Cochin Bantam], and showed the film around
result of scientific endeavors, but not entirely.                  the country. She said, ‘When I was six I had a
One such horizon for the dawn is All Souls Unitar-                 chicken that walked backward and was in the
ian Church. “It’s exciting and                                                      Pathe News. I was in it too with
refreshing,” a member said in one                                                   the chicken. I was just there to
of Reverend Marlin Lavanhar’s                                                       assist the chicken but it was the
Holy Conversations, “to see the                                                     high point in my life. Everything
time come when [people] . . .                                                       since has been anticlimax.’” -
walk the walk.” This reference                                                      Flannery O’Connor, Wikipedia,
was made regarding the recent                                                       Biography
change in atmosphere. New
Dimensions, new music, new                                                        Yes, there is more than a little irony
second service, and a new and                                                     in O’Conner’s self-evaluation. She
wonderful infusion of people ini-                                                 spent her life in the home where
tially brought to our congregation                                                she grew up, surrounded by her
by Bishop Carlton Pearson, have                                                   beloved flock of peafowl. A
come together to foster what well                                                 picture of her that often appears
may be “a second discovery of                                                     in articles about her life shows her
fire” brought about, unsurpris-             A crutch-bound Flannery O’Connor      with them, walking and perhaps
                                                  with one of her peacocks
ingly, by the practice of love made                                               waiting for the occasional peacock
real in the joy of discovery of                                                   display.                               15
           Simple Gifts

     Love Who? YOU!
                                                                   -by Sarah Gettie Burks, Intern Minister
                            “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   worth it, you deserve it, and your soul needs it.
                            - Luke 10:27
                                                                Write and repeat self-affirmations daily.

                            O     ften when we hear
                                  this we focus on lov-
                            ing our neighbor. But what
                                                                Write an affirmation on a piece of paper and tape it
                                                                to a mirror, the dashboard of your car, or on your
                                                                refrigerator. When you see it, repeat it out loud to
                            about loving ourselves? If          yourself.
     you grew up in a religious tradition or a family that      Some self-affirmations you can try include
     values self-sacrifice and some sense of martyrdom,         “I love myself one-hundred percent uncondition-
     perhaps you have an easy time focusing on loving           ally. I love myself with my whole heart”
     others, but a harder time acknowledging yourself           “I am an intelligent and enthusiastic person.”
     as worthy of love, attention, and even a little pam-       “I am strong and courageous.”
     pering. And yet, if there is one thing I’ve learned        “I am free to choose to live as I wish and to give
     from seminary, it is that to be better stewards and        priority to my desires.”
     caregivers in all of our various ministries, we must       “I am worthy of being loved and of finding happi-
     first love and take care of ourselves. Then, natu-         ness.”
     rally, as we become better able to love and care for       “It is enough that I have done my best.”
     ourselves, we become better able to love and care
     for all people.                                            Give that beautiful body of yours all that it
                                                                needs to be healthy and whole.
     This month, take a                                                                   Eating right, exercise,
     little time out to love,                                                             time for reflection
     care for, and pamper                                                                 and spiritual practice,
     you! Trust me, it will                                                               adequate sleep…all of
     make you a better                                                                    these things can go by
     partner, friend, and                                                                 the wayside if we don’t
     neighbor to all.                                                                     make a commitment to
                                                                                          them in our lives. Yet,
     Treat yourself to a                                                                  we tend to function and
     special outing…just                                                                  be much more efficient
     for you!                                                                             at all of our tasks if
     Treat yourself to a                                                                  we prioritize self-care.
     massage, movie, or a                                                                 A professor of mine
     walk outside at lunch-                                                               once spoke about our
     time. Feed your heart,                                                               priorities in terms of
     mind, and soul with                                                                  placing rocks in a vase.
     an activity that allows                                                              In order to make them
     you to relax or to enjoy                                                             fit, you place the large
     something you’re pas-                                                                rocks in the vase first
16   sionate about. You’re                                                                and fill in the leftover
                                                                                             February 2009
space with the smaller rocks. What are your large rocks and what are your smaller ones? What do you give
most of your time and energy to in life? In order to better care for yourself, to have more energy, to be
healthier and happier, do you need to rearrange some rocks?

Accept all parts of yourself.
Are there parts of yourself that you don’t like, that you feel ashamed of, that you reject and wish to remove?

When I struggle with a part of who I am and attempt to reject and deny it, it often rears its angry head with
even greater strength. A friend of mine has likened attempting to forcefully remove a character defect to the
carnival game where you hit one bobble-head with your hammer and another one pops up. If I’m rejecting a
part of who I am, then I’m judging and choosing to deny my whole self–and my self, like a good adolescent,
rebels. If, instead, I can accept and love all of who I am–even my judging, egotistical, and angry self–if I can
start from love, then those character defects will begin to fall away on their own.

                                                The Guest House

                                      This being human is a guest house.
                                        Every morning a new arrival.

                                        A joy, a depression, a meanness,
                                      some momentary awareness comes
                                            as an unexpected visitor.

                                      Welcome and entertain them all!
                                     Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
                                      who violently sweep your house
                                             empty of its furniture,
                                      still, treat each guest honorably.
                                        He may be clearing you out
                                             for some new delight.

                                   The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
                                       meet them at the door laughing,
                                             and invite them in.

                                        Be grateful for whoever comes,
                                          because each has been sent
                                           as a guide from beyond.
                                                  ~ Rumi ~

As you begin to ignite new-found love for yourself, go out and share your wonderful, perfect self with others.
Because you have chosen to first care for and love yourself, they will be all the more privileged to be in your
presence.                                                                                                       17
          Simple Gifts

     Love Personified
                               -by Kate Starr, Youth Director, & Rev. Tamara Lebak, Associate Minister

     L    ove was born on the longest night of the year
          while outside a great storm raged.
     Lightning ripped its ragged sword
                                                          To show them someone cares,
                                                          that they matter.

     through the darkness,                                Love has been engaged many times
     temporarily turning night                            but has not yet married.
     into day.                                            It’s a mystery to her friends
     Thunder came from every direction,                   who set her up on dates
     jolting the land inside out,                         because
     shattering the silence.                              Love is so patient and kind.
     It was as though when Love slipped into the world,   She’s not easily angered, self-seeking, or rude.
     the earth’s heart                                    She doesn’t delight in evil,
     cracked wide open.                                   but rejoices in the truth.
     Life wrapped her in velvet,                          She always trusts, always protects,
     humming a mother’s soothing song of praise,          always perseveres.
     while Death, her father, stood vigil.                But her suitors
                                                          misinterpret her unconditional attention
     Even today, despite the weather,                     to everyone
     Love feels at peace in nature.                       men and women, young and old,
     Not that she is boastful or proud, but               friends and enemies
     Love does consider herself an expert rock climber.   as insecurity and neediness.
     She somehow manages to take hold                     They fear they’re not enough for her.
     in the smallest fissure,                             Or that there isn’t enough of her
     to wedge her way into the tightest crevice           to be shared.
     and make herself comfortable.
     Her father used to take her spelunking.              Love cannot wait to have a child of her own
     Together they explored the deepest,                  but in the meantime,
     most remote caves.                                   she has been a surrogate mother
     They treasured the tomb-like quiet                   three times now and counting.
     and pitch blackness                                  The first time for an infertile cousin
     found nowhere else but the world’s inner core.       on her mother’s side,
                                                          then for a single woman,
     Love works in the kitchen                            and, most recently, for a gay couple.
     of a juvenile detention center.                      Right now, it’s the
     She brings spices from her own cabinet               greatest gift she can give to heal a broken world,
     to add flavor to the bland rations                   the best way to pass on what she’s been given,
     the warden calls nourishment.                        and the next sure step
     She also puts a single raspberry on each tray        on her way to eternity.
     as it passes by.
     It’s Love’s safe and subtle way
     to give each of these sad, scared,
     and wounded youth
18   a reassuring kiss.
                                                                                          February 2009

                                                                                       Simple Gifts is
                                                                                   published monthly by
                                                                                    All Souls Unitarian
                                                                                 Church, 2952 S. Peoria,
                                                                                     Tulsa, OK 74114
                                                                                      (918) 743-2363
                    Sunday, March 8, 2009                              
                           3:00 pm
            Boston Avenue United Methodist Church                                 Editorial Team
                    Thirteenth and Boston
                                                                                      copy editor
                                                                                       Judy Jarvis
In the aftermath of 9/11, Ranya Idliby, a Palestinian Muslim; Suzanne
                                                                                   managing editor
Oliver, an ex-Catholic now in the Episcopal church; and Priscilla Warner, a      Heather Hollingsworth
Jew, set out to write a children’s book about the differences between their
faiths. Three years and many hours of taped conversations later, they pro-          editorial board
duced instead an adult book, The Faith Club, based on their taped conversa-            Phil Haney
                                                                                     Susan Tillman
tions, recollections and growing mutual affection.
                                                                                     church staff
Join us in welcoming these three dynamic authors to Tulsa for a powerful         Rev. Marlin Lavanhar
public discussion of their journey toward profound interfaith friendship          Rev. Tamara Lebak
and understanding.                                                               Rev. Debra Garfinkel
                                                                                  Sarah Gettie Burks
                                                                                       Kate Starr
A book signing will follow. Copies of The Faith Club will be available for        Laurel Williamson
purchasing at the event, courtesy of Steve’s Sundry, Books and Magazines.
For more information, call the Oklahoma Center for Community and Jus-               Cathey Edwards
                                                                                       Brian Hill
tice at 583-1361, or e-mail or visit
                                                                                    Martin Lavanhar
                                                                                      Nancy Parke
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice in part-                  Susan Tillman
nership with All Souls Unitarian Church, Boston Avenue United Method-
ist Church, Institute of Interfaith Dialog, Islamic Society of Tulsa, Phillips
Theological Seminary, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Temple Israel,          When submitting
                                                                                  articles for church
Tulsa City-County Library, Tulsa Global Alliance, Tulsa Interfaith Alliance       publications:
and Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry.                                                  1) Submit your text
                                                                                  electronically via email.
                                                                                  Plain text is best.
                                                                                  2) Include your name
                                                                                  and daytime number.
                                                                                  3) Not all submissions
                                                                                  will be published.
                                                                                  Submissions may be

                                                                                  Call Heather
                                                                                  at 743-2363.
                  Feb. Highlights
Feb.   1    KISS/Joining Sunday
Feb.   6    Soulful Sundown: Love Letters
Feb.   7    Annual MUMs Sweetheart Ball
Feb.   8    Branches Extravaganza
Feb.   12   Day Alliance
Feb.   14   All Soul Acoustic Coffeehouse: Ray Bonneville
Feb.   20   Mardi Gras Carnivale
            Parents’ Night Out
Feb. 21     Seminary for a Day
Feb. 24     Evening Alliance
Feb. 28     Children’s Choir Garage Sale

            Sunday Service Times:   Soulful Sundown:        Wednesday Connections:
            10:00, 11:30 am         7:00 pm, First Friday   Supper 5:15, Chapel 6:30, Classes 7:00 pm

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