Interdependent Web: Remembering Clark Olsen, limited imagination, something doesn't love a wall, build your sanctuary

Interdependent Web: Remembering Clark Olsen, limited imagination, something doesn't love a wall, build your sanctuary

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


Remembering Clark Olsen

This week many mourned the passing of Clark Olsen, one of the two UU ministers who survived the assault in Selma, Alabama that killed their friend and colleague, James Reeb. UU World’s editor, Chris Walton, shares a memory.

My first assignment on the UU World staff, in 2000-2001, was to write about Unitarian Universalist support for the black voting rights movement, which drew Miller, Olsen, and Reeb to Selma after Bloody Sunday, and that story and the people involved in it have been close to my heart ever since. (Facebook, 1.23.19)

Lisa Bovee-Kemper remembers Olsen from her time serving the UU Congregation of Asheville, North Carolina, where he and his wife, Anna, were members.

[Tonight] I’m thinking most of the quiet way he lived his life. What a storyteller he was, and very good at Quiddler. (Not as good as Anna, though) There were so many ways his gentle manner, incisive mind, and open heart changed me. The way he taught without being didactic or heavy-handed, and deftly drew out the best in a person by asking the right questions, or just by being quiet at the right moment.

And I am so, so grateful for the way he loved our kids. He did this silly wiggly hand thing that never failed to inspire uncontrollable giggles, and never minded when they would run up out of nowhere at church and hug his legs. (Facebook, 1.21.19)

Leah Reeb Varela sends “ love, gratitude, and prayers to Clark’s family and friends.”

Clark held my grandfather’s hand when he slipped unconscious in the back of a makeshift ambulance on a highway to Birmingham in 1965. My grandmother told Clark she was eternally grateful and couldn't have asked for a better person to be holding my grandfather’s hand in that moment. Their story shaped history, impacted the world and our families deeply. We’re forever grateful for Clark, will love and miss him. In knowing him, a part of me felt like I got to know my grandfather who was murdered long before I was born. (Facebook, 1.21.19)

Limited imagination

Theresa Soto reminds us that while UUs may believe in universal salvation, we often practice limited imagination; we fail to imagine the value of a future that includes disabled people.

For Unitarian Universalism, one signal of this is the hundreds of inaccessible chancels in the congregations of the movement. There was no imagining, especially considering Unitarianism’s entanglement with eugenics, either that there would be disabled folks active in the movement’s future or that they would be called from among the people to lead. (Medium, 1.22.19)

Build your sanctuary

Tina Porter sends love to those who need it—because she will need it back.

I need to be reminded, daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, that the hurt of the world is often hidden in the smiles and trite greetings. I need to be reminded to tread carefully and to give care, to be the compassion I want to receive in the world. . . .
May you find peace today, wherever it has hidden, and build your sanctuary from the supplies at hand. (Tina L. Porter, 1.24.19)

Barbara Stevens writes that with prayer, what matters is that we start.

When we offer the gift of our attention, our compassion, or our hands, we make real the deity, we mend broken hearts, heal wounds, find our true place in the world, build connections between one another, touch the divine, and render Siri meaningless. Why talk to a computer when we have God in ourselves, in other people, and in the world?

There are many ways to pray, and many reasons to do so. Finding the “right” way is not what matters. What matters is that we choose a way and start. The “how” is unimportant. (Universalist Recovery Church, 1.19.19)