Interdependent Web: California wildfires, angry for a long time, nourish your soul

Interdependent Web: California wildfires, angry for a long time, nourish your soul

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism.

Heather Christensen


The smell, the smoke, the ash

This summer, our family travelled west through Montana while most of the state was covered by thick smoke from wildfires. When we arrived home in Bellingham, the air there was full of smoke, too, this time from fires burning across the border in Canada. This week there’s fire and smoke in California. It’s hard to breathe in the smoke zone; it’s hell where the fire rages.

The Rev. Dan Harper shares his experience of the smoke from the fires in California.

We were awakened Sunday night by the smell of smoke. We got up in the dark and tried to figure out where the smell was coming from. Maybe the neighbors left a fire burning in their fireplace overnight, and the slight breeze was blowing it into our house? When we got up on Monday morning, we read that thousands of acres were burning about 70 miles north of us; we had smelled the smoke from those fires. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, October 11)

For Kari Kopnick, the smell of smoke triggers childhood memories of two dangerous fires.

My body knows, or better said it KNOWS. My body remembers. My body knows when to be afraid, when to prepare, when to run. May I remember to settle in and listen a little more closely when my body calls to me. May I hold the wisdom in my bones as counsel for the future.

Today, may all in the path of this fire be well and whole. And may we all breathe a little easier tomorrow. (Kari Kopnick, October 10)

Angry for a long time

The Rev. Kim Debus, invited to guest preach in a male colleague’s pulpit, preaches a sermon he couldn’t preach—one that voices women’s rage against patriarchy.

[Men], listen up. What I am about to tell you affects you too. And if you are offended by anything I have to say, listen harder. Lean into the discomfort. Because women and others along the gender spectrum who do not identify as men are angry.

And we’ve been angry for a long time.

We’ve probably been angry since the first men came out of the cave, saw the first woman lighting a fire, and decided to explain to her what fire was. (Notes from the Far Fringe, October 12)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein reacts to this week’s news about Harvey Weinstein’s violence toward women.

I know I am not the only one for whom the stories and audio recording of Harvey Weinstein in the act of violating women has triggered feelings of rage and hurt. I am finding strength in telling my own story of rape and betrayal by colleagues in my profession. I encourage you to do what you need to do to flush out the anger from your own system. Please tell someone if you can. It is enormously liberating. If you are a victim of sexual predation it is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your shame. It is not your fault. If someone doesn't believe you, keep telling your story until someone does. (Facebook, October 11)

Time for a little honesty

Kim Hampton tells it straight—NFL players are protesting against white supremacy, not disrespecting the flag, the anthem, or members of the military.

If anybody can give me a rational explanation as to why any black person in America should salute the flag, sing the anthem, or pledge allegiance I would love to hear it.

A black child was nearly lynched in Claremont, New Hampshire…..SIX WEEKS AGO.

White men with torches are marching through Charlottesville…..LAST WEEK . . . .

It’s time for a little honesty here people. This is not about the flag or the anthem or respecting/disrespecting the troops or vets. This has always been about race. (East of Midnight, October 11)

Feed your soul

The Rev. Jordinn Nelson Long has a suggestion for those of us spinning from one bad-news story to another.

If you are feeling alone and overwhelmed, I have a suggestion in these strange days and weeks: consider finding a church.

NOT the kind that tells you the end time is nigh. The kind that tells you that your life is now, and that we were made for such a time as this.

It is today. Your heart is beating. And you are not alone. (Facebook, October 11)

She also writes that we need to find spiritual practices that nourish our souls.

I don’t think our movement is good at teaching spiritual practice . . . . So it’s part of my missional focus to offer a different lens, having come from another place with this. Spiritual practice is the thing . . . . you make time for THAT NOURISHES YOUR SOUL. (Facebook, October 12)

Her daughter’s questions prompt the Rev. Vanessa Southern to create a list of what helps her live a life worth living, and what doesn't.

Yes, to stupid things that make you laugh. And letting yourself cry. All the things that make sure you don’t shut down as a response to the pace; become a machine.

Yes to taking out enough time to thinking about what you want to leave behind and then yes to making sure to write that into your calendar. (Facebook, October 12)

John Beckett talks about having the courage to follow religious intuitions, even if they are not the most popular.

The loudest religious voices in this country scream that there is only one God. They’re so certain of this they feel entitled to pass laws forcing everyone to conform to what they think that God wants.

The second loudest voices in this country scream that there are no Gods. . . . They question the sanity of anyone who talks of deep spiritual experiences, some going so far as to suggest those with such experiences should be institutionalized.

That leaves those of us with first-hand experiences of Gods and spirits in between the proverbial rock and hard place. . . . [But if] we have the courage to follow our intuition, we will explore our religious experiences in depth and see where they lead.(Under the Ancient Oaks, October 8)