Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.

Rev. Jacqueline Brett

Changes and Transitions

“‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar... “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present,” Alice replied, rather shyly, “at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.’” Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
I recall first hearing the term re-entry when I was a child and watched on television as NASA astronauts re-entered earth’s atmosphere, shifting from the weightlessness of space to the strong gravitational pull of earth.
Every day, I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight. --Mary Oliver
“When our ideas and plans collide with reality, reality generally wins….” ~ Mark Lesser
"When we’re kind we inspire others to be kind, and it actually creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards to our friends’ friends’ friends – to three degrees of separation." ~ David R. Hamilton, PhD  
When the squares of the week fillwith musts and shoulds,when I swim in the heaviness of it,the headlines, the fear and hate,
This is what was bequeathed us: This earth the beloved left And, leaving, Left to us. No other world But this one:
When my sister and I were children on summer-long visits with my grandmother, who lived in a rural one square mile hamlet in South Carolina (even today with a population of 500 people), we’d travel barefoot with my cousin along dirt pathways back up in the woods and over small and unsteady footbridges that were nothing more than a few planks thrown across a ditch or small creek.  
"We all cycle through the wall, the crisis, the opening of our heart, and the discovery of our kinship. No one has ever been you, but compassion lets us wash into each other like watercolors." ~ Mark Nepo
For a person with indigenous roots in the Southeast who is looking for evidence of your homeland, you have to follow invisible maps. The landscape has changed, the surfaces of our histories have been written over: the longleaf pine ecosystem of Creek country’s southern territory reduced from ninety million acres to three million acres in under two
I think our notions of what counts as radical have changed over time. Self-care and healing and attention to the body and the spiritual dimension—all of this is now a part of radical social justice struggles. That wasn’t the case before. And I think that now we’re thinking deeply about the connection between interior life and what happens in the social world. ~ Angela Davis
Earth is humankind’s unblinking witness. ~ Heather Lynn Mann I’ve been experiencing a deep undercurrent of sadness and grief during this season when I am also experiencing great joy at blooming bushes and trees, sun shining, and a colony of wild rabbits (or, word fact: fluffle” as such a colony is known!) hopping along the trails in my neighborhood.
“ order to answer the question, ‘Where do we go from here?’... we must first honestly recognize where we are now.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston
As I was seeking a congregational hymn appropriate for our Jazz Vespers for the Holidays service, Rev. Cayer suggested the song, “Hush”. This particular service focuses on “stillness” so it seemed to make sense, in a way. But the truth is, I initially decided to go with it because I love when Ms. Joan Tilghman leads us in the song, and she was our cantor for the service.
I give thanks I give thanks I give thanks For all the good sent to us, even when we do not see it or know it. Good sent to us when the world seems so devastating and impossible, as if there is no way beyond the difficulties we experience, the grief and suffering we are a witness to, are a part of.             
…we are not defeated when we are worn down, just exposed anew at a deeper level. We are meant to live between the two.  ~ Mark Nepo
No individual exists in their own nature, independent of all other factors of life. Each has the totality of the Universe at their base. All individuals have, therefore, the whole Universe as their common ground…. ~ Lama Govinda
I have been born again and again and each time, I have found something to love. ~ Gordon Parks When I was a teenager, I longed for two things: truth and wisdom. It might sound a little nerdy, but that is indeed who I was. Sure, I wanted some of the other things that teenagers wanted too, like a new pair of shoes, a cool outfit, the latest record album by a group I loved, or to hang out with my friends. 
You are the laboratoryand every day is an experiment.Go and find what is newand unexpected. ~ Joel Elkes
"These bodies are perishable, but the Dweller in these bodies is eternal." -- Bhagavad-Gita In this marathon race, each time I believe I’ve found my stride, evened out my breath, I find myself needing to shore up the heaviness of my heart about to burst from my heaving chest. Needing to lift my burdened spirit from the depths as I stumble forward, staggered by another senseless disregard for a Black or Brown-bodied life.
"Maybe that’s why I want to touch people so often -- it’s only another way of talking."  ~ Georgia O’Keefe   I miss touch. I miss grabbing onto someone’s arm for support when I am bent over in laughter. I miss the casual brush of a hand across my skin. I miss shaking hands. I miss linking my arm with a friend’s as we walk along a path. I
“Justice is what love looks like in public, just like tenderness is what love feels like in private.”  -- Cornell West One of the joys in being back at work has been listening to check-ins at the various meetings I’m having. To hear about, as if in the village square -- or actually the Zoom square! -- the goings-on in the lives of the people in our beloved community. Over the past year, life has thrown us collective curve balls -- even if personal lives for some of us might be going relatively well.
"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness...because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace."                                   &n
Whatever your problems and challenges, you are, you exist in this bright world with others, with trees, sky, water, stars, sun, and moon. If you sit there long enough and regularly enough you will feel this, even in your darkest moments.                                &
Perhaps uncertainty has come up for you a lot over the past several weeks. Each day, nay, every hour seems to bring the unexpected in unimaginable ways as it's never come before. If an overwhelming sense of anxiousness and uncertainty has been squeezing at your heart these days -- know that it’s got a hold on many of the rest of us too. How will ou
In her famous novel Parable of the Sower (1993), science fiction writer Octavia Butler introduces readers to a new religion called Earthseed, founded as the Earthseed community struggles to survive the socioeconomic and political collapse of twenty-first century America due to poor environmental stewardship, corporate greed, and the growing gap bet
I am sitting at my desk in my home office, the sun filtering through the open slats of my blinds, forming a play of light and shadow on my desk, on me. I am aware of birdsong outside my window, and imagine I sense the beat of their wings. A wise friend asked just yesterday, “How is life best lived one day at a time?"  Buddhist nun, Pema Chodro
I began last January 2019 with an extraordinary adventure: a trip to India for the Kumbh Mehla. The largest spiritual gathering on the planet, the one I attended attracted over 179 million pilgrims over six weeks to a temporary tent city in Allahabad, where everyone was immersed in ever constant ritual and chanting, such that even the simplest aspe
Many have asked for a recording of the spoken word piece I delivered at Jazz for the Holidays on December 18. The service was unrecorded but the text is available below in this longer than usual blog post:   Life is veiled and hidden, even as your greater self is hidden and veiled. Yet when life speaks, all the winds become words; and whe
My mother is the family griot. She holds the memories of our family from way back, and enjoys sharing them, sometimes for the sake of the stories themselves, at other times for the irony and teachings they hold. In certain West African cultures the griot is a highly respected hereditary position; the person who holds the community’s historical narr
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.Do justly now.Love mercy now.Walk humbly now.You are not obligated to complete the work,But neither are you freeTo abandon it. On a Saturday morning not long ago, a yoga instructor shared these words, attributed to the Talmud, to center the minds and hearts of those of us in her class. It had b
In June I took my first real vacation in quite some time. A confessed workaholic (a term I discovered in the book Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang originated from a study of ministers!), I was finally tired enough to unplug from work. I leaned very deliberately into my time of rest and embraced days filled with joy, love, contemplation, and simple fun
I moved to North Carolina from Brooklyn 15 years ago, with much apprehension, two boys, and a dog in tow. A friend who relocated here several years before said, “Give it three years to decide whether it’s working.” What?! I thought. Three whole years? She proved correct. We settled into a Raleigh home, convinced by conservative southern relatives t
I’ve been reading National Book Award winner Nikky Finney’s beautiful collection of poems called Rice. I close the pages after each haunting verse. This is the world of black folks who lived in Horry County, South Carolina, first enslaved and then free but oppressed and profoundly impacted by their labor in the rice fields of South Carolina’s coast
As a young girl running around my Brooklyn neighborhood playground in early spring, I quietly noticed tiny bumps that suddenly appeared on the branches of trees and bushes everywhere. Since no one spoke of this phenomenon, nor did I. But I walked to the school bus stop each morning and carefully observed the bumps transforming into buds, then growi...
The quest for balance can sometimes feel like searching for a calm landing spot between the far reaches of a pendulum as it swings from one pole to the other in dichotomies: light and dark, joy and sorrow, justice and injustice, self and transcendence, health and illness, past and future, body and spirit, science and mysticism. Out and in, out and ...
A few weeks ago I learned from Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen that in the practice of somatics --a learning process aimed toward embodied transformation -- it takes 21 times of focused practice for there to be a possibility of new behavior, 300 times for muscle memory -- for our bodies to instinctively do a new thing, 3000 times for embodiment -- so that it...