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
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
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
-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 (email@example.com) to set up an ap-
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.
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 (http://www.uusankofa.org/tiki-in-
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,
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 (http://www25-temp.uua.org/uuhs/
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.”
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
“I don’t want to
discuss it right now,”
6 Margo answered,
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
(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
...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.
- 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.
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.
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 (loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org).
- 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-
- 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-
ders.org/) 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-
- 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?
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
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.
Virginia Phariss Nicole Ogundare
12 Lei Rumley
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
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
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
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
-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.
Simple Gifts is
published monthly by
All Souls Unitarian
Church, 2952 S. Peoria,
Tulsa, OK 74114
Sunday, March 8, 2009 info@AllSoulsChurch.org
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church Editorial Team
Thirteenth and Boston
In the aftermath of 9/11, Ranya Idliby, a Palestinian Muslim; Suzanne
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
tions, recollections and growing mutual affection.
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
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
tice at 583-1361, or e-mail email@example.com or visit www.occjok.org.
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
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