Sept13>from Rev. Bethany: “Desert Ritual Year”

From Your Minister

Starting today, we will be adding a short article to the weekly emails. This space will be filling the role that longer form written articles took in our now retired monthly newsletters. Watch this space to read spiritual insights and food for thought from Rev. Bethany, lay leaders, and other staff!

Hello beloveds,

When I first moved to the desert, people kept apologizing to me for how yellow it was. Maybe the specificity of the apology came from those people usually also hearing that I came from New England, where the primary natural color is green (some of the year)

But the apology for the yellow never made sense to me. I remember a few times, looking around me, or out the nearest window, and really wondering what they meant. Is much of the soil and many of the trees some variation of yellow or brown (dark yellow)? Sure! But there is also the green of the palo verdes and the cacti. There is the open blue sky, and the brilliant sunsets. There are pops of pink (saguaro and cacti) and orange (ocotillo) and purple (Texas rangers and wildflowers) throughout the year, depending on what is blooming. And when the sun hits the mountains just right, that glow, oh my… The desert has so much color!

And, it is true, that the stereotypes our culture promotes of the “desert” are dry, and barren, and, yes, yellow. But we who have chosen the desert as our home can see beyond the stereotype. We know this place is rich with color and life and a synchronicity that can inspire awe in us, if we look for it. This is where the idea of the Desert Ritual Year (DRY) liturgy came from. DRY was developed last year by the Baja 4 ministers and staff in collaboration with lay leaders from the four congregations. We identified monthly themes to be explored over a three year period. These monthly themes are grounded in both the Sonoran Desert and UU values. This year the overarching theme for 2023-24 is UU Identity and Theology. In future years, the overarching themes will be World Religions and Social Justice.

One of the goals of the DRY liturgy project is to build a library of resources that reflect the beauty and inspiration of the desert in general, and the Sonoran Desert in particular. This is where we need your help! We are eager to hear from you — if you have poetry, art, photographs, or anything creative that we could use in our worship services and beyond. It would be either your own creation, or something from someone else. In case it helps narrow down what you send, the monthly themes for the rest of the year are: grief, gratitude, fire, justice, love, generosity, transformation, community, and collective liberation.

If you have something to send, or if you have questions, I’d love to hear from you.

~ Rev. Bethany