How to Drive Like a Minister

Living A Life Rooted in Unitarian Universalism


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A Single Step

The Philadelphia Marathon is Sunday, November 23rd - that’s only 17 weeks away!!  That may at first seem like a long time in the future, but the training program I follow starts 18 weeks before the race.  Just getting to the starting line takes over 4 months of training and preparation.  Most people can’t just jump out of bed one morning and decide to run a marathon.  It takes dedication, and a long hard process of preparation.

(This is from Pittsburgh, 2012.  You may be able to find me with a magnifying glass.)

Marathons are not the only things which take hard work.  Most education - from High School to PhD - requires a number of years of study, dedication and hard work.  Having a child is even more years of love and patience.  These are not easy, “once and done” things.  So it behoves us to occasionally look at the larger picture, to step back and recognize how our larger goals may be met by taking that first step… and then the second step…

The process of starting small to achieve great goals brings to mind an acorn which will - over many years - grow to be a large oak tree.  Let us take the small step, be like the acorn, and see the grand scale which our small actions may produce.

The tree which fills the arms grew from the tiniest sprout; the
tower of nine storeys rose from a (small) heap of earth; the journey of a thousand li commenced with a single step.

- Tao Te Ching, chapter 64

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Thanks!

As I was writing a couple weeks ago on saying “I’m Sorry!" it came across my mind that there are other things we do which can happen immediately or after a long while.  One of them is giving thanks.

I remember very vividly a friend of mine paid me a compliment…  maybe 12 years ago.  And as with apologizing many years later, I felt compelled to thank many years later.  Letting someone know that they made a difference in your life is a strong and powerful action.  Whether you do it immediately or after over a decade.  Say Thanks!

Take the time this week - and into the future - express your gratitude to someone whom you haven’t thanked.

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What’s the Impact? (Take 2)

Here are some further thoughts on “What is the Impact of our Actions?”, which I only touched on briefly back in March.

Earlier this summer the congregation I serve, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, decided to take a stand on a difficult social justice issue.  There was a plan by the University of Delaware to build a data center with an attached power plant.  This data center and power plant were proposed to be built within a few miles of our congregation.  Based on our values of environmental justice we took a public stand against the power plant.  This included sending out a press release, supporting other organizations and adding our voices to rallies.

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And just this week, the University decided to terminate its lease with the company which was going to build the data center!!  That’s good news for those of us who opposed it.  But the question remains: How much did our small voice make?  What was the impact of one congregation in this large issue?

This isn’t just a question for protestors and congregations.  How much impact we make is a question all of us face, whether we recognize it or not.  What impact does recycling have on the world?  When I smile at a stranger, does it make their day better?  Does my writing a letter to a friend bring them joy?

I say, even if we can’t have a full idea of what the impact is, we must keep on trying to make the world a better place.  I end with an oft-repeated quote by Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

P.S. I am feeling especially moved by this topic, so if you want more - come by to worship at UUFN Sunday, July 20, at 10am for a more in depth exploration!

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It’s Hard to be Good

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This week I’ve been thinking about recycling…  I am of the mindset that the world is a better place for recycling.  Reduce, reuse and recycle, right?  So I try my best to recycle!  But recycling isn’t always cut and dry.  I’ve done some quick research, and surprised myself by what I found:

- Stickers and the paper they are printed on are not recyclable (source).

- Aluminium Foil is recyclable, but not always accepted (source) (it’s not accepted in Delaware).

- Paper Receipts are usually not recyclable and can actually be harmful! (source).

- Leave your caps on plastic bottles (source), or maybe you should take them off (source)…

- How clean?  Consider running your recycling through the dishwasher (source), or just rinse them (source).  Better yet, read more about the pros and cons here.

- Removing labels from metal cans is not needed  (source)… but it is good to do (source).

- No need to take staples out of paper before recycling (source).

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But this isn’t a blog about recycling.  It’s about living a life of deep and devoted beliefs.  The illustration of recycling is that it isn’t always easy to know how to live out our values.  Sometimes we don’t know how to make the best choices.  Sometimes our choices are misinformed and we unknowingly make a “bad” decision.  I have been wrongly putting paper receipts into our recycling bin!

The important part is that we do our best to live our values.  And when we hear new information or insight, we are open to changing our habits - and possibly even changing our values.

Let us all go forth into the world, living our faith and beliefs.  And when we are not 100% sure of ourselves, still striving to do the best we are able.

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As a Post Script:  Here are some great resources for recycling information.  For the most accurate information on what you can or cannot recycle, contact the city/company which handles your waste!
- Earth 911
- EPA

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Social Justice Baby

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