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A Heart For Humanity

Last month, one of our young adult parishioners sent me an e-mail update on her current activities in Arizona.In addition to getting adjusted to being away from home for the first time and not being able to get home on short notice, she was adjusting to living with virtual strangers.What helped her transition is her involvement in assisting others in making a better life for themselves.She is doing that through the organization Habitat for Humanity.
If you are not aware, Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical “ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action.Habitat is founded on the conviction that every man, woman, and child should have a simple, decent, affordable place to live in dignity and safety.”Volunteers from all walks of life do their part in actually building homes.
From a Christian perspective, Holy Scriptures entreats us: “Our love must not…
Recent posts

Personal Responsibility by Frank Kotowski

In my faith, Spiritualism, I often go back to our 7th Principle, which concerns personal responsibility:

We affirm the moral responsibility of individuals and that we make our own happiness or unhappiness as we obey or disobey Nature’s physical and spiritual laws.

There is a lot to this Principle.  For Spiritualists, it pertains to both your life here on Earth and your spiritual life beyond in the afterlife. But how far does personal responsibility go?  When is there an ethical imperative to give yourself up for another person?  Does this include others who may have very different views from yourself and may even hate you?  No easy answers.
     My mind swims with a multitude of scenarios of personal responsibility and what the outcomes might be.  If we make our own happiness as we align with Nature's physical and spiritual laws, which are God's law, does this lesson our painful experiences?  Perhaps not.  Can we both happy and also filled with pain?  Perhaps.  If you are in ex…

The Magic of Apology by Rev Dr. Linda Anderson

In this time of New Year I'm looking back on 2019 and forward to 2020. There is much to celebrate. Much to feel grateful for. And there is much to lament and feel sorrow over. We human beings are a mixed bag. What causes me particular pain these days is what I call our growing estrangement from one another as people. The more we break into "tribes" and draw lines in the sand, the less able we are to see one another as human beings like ourselves. One way that this estrangement shows up is that we as a society and as individuals increasingly justify our own regrettable actions by blaming other people. The sense of mutuality in relationship that connects us is eroding as we take less and less responsibility for our part in any interactions. One way I can see to counteract that tendency is through a practice of apology. Apology: a regretful acknowledgment of error, offense or failure.
          Apologies well done are magic. Apologies poorly done usually cause more…

The 5 Regrets

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dr…

A Bubby by any other name… by Cantor Marcey Wagner

After the initial exhilaration fades just a bit when one becomes a grandparent, the dreaded decision arises.What shall I be called by this precious bundle?Everyone asks you this question.You look back at them, dumbfounded.I personally mulled over the answer prior to the birth, but then set it aside, figuring that when the baby arrived, I would look at her face and immediately know the answer.Alas, this did not happen.
You would be surprised at the angst this question causes.There are multiple websites suggesting modern, cool names for grandparents (mostly for grandmothers- we women seem to have the most difficulty- but there are some men who grapple with this as well). You no doubt have come across a Meema, or Gigi, or OG, or Mimi.I think that much of this reluctance to use traditional names- Grandma or Nana- is because these names conjure up images of gray-haired, fragile old ladies who spend much of their time knitting and cooking.This is diametrically opposite to the reality of toda…

What Christmas Taught This Rabbi About Chanukkah, And Vice Versa

I like Christmas.  There, I said it.  This may be surprising for some people to hear from a rabbi, and it may be misinterpreted by others.  But it's true.  I like the feeling of this time of year.  I enjoy the songs, the lights, watching Charlie Brown and the Grinch, and especially the sense of good will that exists.
I also like Chanukkah -- the gathering of family and friends, eating latkes (fried potato pancakes), lighting the Chanukkah menorah (9-branched candelabrum), playing dreidel (a spinning top game), and feeling a sense of warmth and light in the coldest, darkest time of year.
But my enjoyment of both holidays does not mean that I see them in the same way.It does not mean that I view Chanukkah as the Jewish Christmas.While enjoying aspects of both holidays, I am keenly aware of the need for both Christians and Jews to maintain a distinction between the two holidays, while also embracing a healthy respect for and appreciation of the practices of the other's religion.…
A thought on two unrelated astronomical occurrences
1) This coming Sunday will be the earliest sunset in 2019.This notion is confusing and I have had several people tell me it makes no sense because it is not the shortest day of the year. But it is true, the earliest sunset comes before the solstice. (And the latest sunrise comes after the solstice. Here’s a good explanation: https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/equation-of-time.html)
As I am not a morning person, it is the later sunsets that matter most to me. Knowing that the night darkness will begin later each day, if only by seconds, cheers me. I am better able to embrace the winter, appreciate all four seasons, when I know we will begin to have light later into the day.
2) Last week, as I was coming home from late-day errands, noting how early it was for it to be dark, one car at a shopping center exit was insistently coming into the flow of traffic, although we on the roadway were moving steadily. Not wanting to hit that car,…