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Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson

Newsletters, Calendars, and Journals

Tucsonitarian: April 2020


April 2020 Newsletter

The Tucsonitarian

meditating_old_temple.jpg
 
Rev. Bethany Russell-Lowe
 
Just one month ago, we were wrapping up the pledge campaign and celebrating Stephen Sondheim’s musical imagination in worship. We heard, and sang, “Things will come out right now // We can make it so. / Someone is on your side, / No one is alone” fromInto the Woods.
 
Just one month ago, your staff and lay leaders were beginning to imagine programming for next year and I was looking forward to a vacation at the end of March.
 
Well, the vacation was cancelled. And our congregation shifted entirely online in two short weeks, putting aside future programmatic planning in order to face today’s realities and needs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Like many of you, most days, I find myself asking: What is real, anymore? And what is normal, anymore? Because worldwide pandemic still feels so surreal. And my physically distant life feels anything but normal.
 
In the midst of this surreal living, I stumbled across this poem from William Stafford. He wrote these words 26 days before he died.
 
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
 
This thread. It has been there before this began, and will continue long after this is over. No matter what “this” is for you.
 
In this time of grief and loss, this time of sickness and weariness, this time of isolation and distancing, my greatest hope is that you keep your grip on that thread in your life.
 
If you are having trouble finding that thread in your life, connect with your family, friends, or congregation. We will help shine so you can feel your thread. 
 
If you feel this thread slipping out of your grip, reach out. Call a friend. Call me. Call on community. We are here for you, no matter how you are.
 
Stay healthy and stay connected.
 
-         Rev. Bethany
 
Worship on Sundays
 
The Baja 4 Congregations will continue to have joint services in April. Join us Sundays at 10:30 am onUUCT's Facebook pageorour YouTube pageto watch worship. Worship will be pre-recorded, but will go "live" on both Facebook and YouTube at 10:30 on Sundays. You can watch it with a group then, or watch it in either location on your own later on. 
 
Zoom Social Hour
(If the link isn't live, copy and paste it into your browser)
 
Starts at 11:30 by computer (go online to:
or by phone (call 1-669-900-6833
and put inMeeting ID: 702 589 0260when prompted).
 
UUCT Facebook:
 
 
UUCT YouTube:
 
 
 
UUCT Lunch Together
 
Join your staff, lay leaders, and Board for lunch together Monday – Saturday from 12-1. Join us on Zoom from your computer or any phone!
 
Join by phone: 1 (669) 900-6833Meeting ID 286 365 460
 
Booking Zoom
 
If your group or committee would like to meet on Zoom, contact Rev. Bethany or Jamili to reserve a space and get tech support to learn how to use Zoom. 
 
* * * * * * * * * * * *
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Social Justice Committee
 
UUCT ‘Surrogate Shoppers’
Helping medically at-risk UUCT members
 
After agreeing to use strategies and techniquesrecommended by the CDCto reduce the chances of spreading the coronavirus, UUCT volunteer shoppers are helping medically high-risk members of the congregation avoid going to grocery stores.
 
The team is focused on people with heart, lung, and immune system conditions or other ailments that put them at riskas defined by the CDC. The CDC says “there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” However, people at high medical risk (and their close family contacts) are especially discouraged from going to mass gatherings and places where people are frequently closer than 6 feet,according to the CDC.
 
Grocery options
 
Grocery stores are considered “essential,” but they vary in maintenance of social distancing, disinfection of surfaces and other practices.  All of us must take precautions. In order to avoid going to a grocery store, UUCT’s Surrogate Shoppers recommend three options to avoid physically entering a grocery store:
 
·        Several local grocery storesand private Tucson grocery-delivery services, such asInstacartandAmazon PrimeNowoffer home delivery.
 
·        Curbside-pickup in Tucsonof groceries eliminates the delivery person from the supply chain.
 
·        The third option is use of UUCT’s new program, Surrogate shoppers. They will buy at Trader Joe’s or Sprouts and wear masks, use hand disinfection or nitrile gloves at each step. They will maintain those precautions from picking ordered items to dropping off the bagged groceries at front doors. Our clients can pay surrogate shoppers with personal checks.
 
Pharmacies
 
Most pharmacies offer free mail delivery of prescriptions. Several, includingCVSalso offer 1-2 day home delivery of prescriptions, over-the-counter remedies, and “everyday essentials.”
 
However, pharmacies may use delivery services likeInstacart, which many have issues withemployee strikes over availability of personal protective equipment.
 
UUCT Surrogate Shoppers can pick up prescriptions or other medicines for UUCT members if mail delivery is not available.
 
Grocery orders
To place a grocery order, contact one of the surrogate shopper volunteers:
·        Vail and East Tucson – Marsha Newcomb,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
·        Vail and East Tucson – Cathy Dinsmore,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
·        Northwest Tucson – Terry Spinelli,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
·        Green Valley – Bonita Mott,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
·        Midtown Tucson – Rex Graham,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Deliveries will be made within 1-3 days.
 
To volunteer to be a surrogate shopper, contact Rex Graham atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
And Finally
If you haven't already, Join a Circle of Care
 
Staying connected at this time is extremely important for mental health. Click here to join aCircle of Care team.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
No More Deaths
 
Our social justice partner 'No More Deaths' (NMD) and other groups say that desperate asylum-seeking migrants are now being turned away at the Mexico-U.S. border with no hope of applying for asylum. They must weigh life-altering choices of waiting indefinitely in squalid shelters and camps, going back home to face unstable and dangerous futures, or crossing the border and risk contracting the coronavirus on their journey or contracting it in overcrowded detention centers.
 
“No More Deaths legal aid team is working diligently to get our clients who are in the detention system out as quickly as possible,” said a NMD email on March 29. “Our staff and volunteers are also working to help our clients find food, rental and utility assistance, and medical help as jobs are lost and no safety net is available for many with whom we work.”
 
If you are able to make a gift to NMD, please do so via check sent to UUCT with this notation 'STP for NMD'.
 
Board of Trustees
 
I sincerely hope all our members, friends, supporters, and ministry partners are in a good place right now. But if not, our church is here to help your spirit and provide emotional support. 
 
UUCT has a high priority to help people to keep in contact with one another through online gatherings: Daily Lunch Together, Sunday virtual Social Hour, Wednesday choir gatherings, and the Circles of Care groups. These are all happening using an online service called Zoom where each of us in our homes visits others in their homes.
 
list of meetings, times, and connection information may be found on our website(uuctucson.org)and published in our emails. Another way to be in contact, for those who do Facebook, is to follow our UUCT Facebook presence. 
A thought for some of you is to "friend" another member with whom you have a relationship at church.
 
I do have a concern that not everyone is able to keep in contact this way or needs more emotional support. I also have a concern that our newest members, who have yet to form the strong friendships that our longer term members have, are not being enfolded by our community. At this time our usual strong welcoming spirit on Sundays needs to be even stronger in a different way with phone calls or even old-fashioned cards and notes. Our Care Team is at the forefront of supporting those needing a little more care. You can get in contact with them or send a note of concern about someone you feel needs a check-in through email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the request form here or with the button on the right side of our home page.
 
The other form of spiritual and worship support are the worship services that are still happening, albeit online. Within a week of the Board deciding to close our church to physical gatherings, services were being created for online viewing. The services, as well as earlier podcasts with emotional and uplifting UU messages, may be found on our “Sermons & Podcasts” section of our website. These services are being put on through the collective effort of our southern Arizona UU ministers and staff (the Baja 4 churches).
 
On more organizational matters, our annual gathering to refresh our leadership and covenants, the Annual Meeting, is being delayed to a time when we can gather and celebrate getting through this time of separation. The Board of Trustees is working on what business can be done remotely, such as voting on the slates of elected positions or adopting an interim budget to begin in July (if we are still not gathering), and which matters really need us together to discuss and approve changes. We will keep you informed.
 
Though our campus is closed to gatherings and our minister and staff are largely toiling remotely we still need to continue to take care of them. 
 
Those of us that can continue with our commitments need to keep up with our pledges and donations. The usual methods of honoring our pledges, including sending checks to the office, are still being handled. 
 
There are also online methods as described in church emails or at uuctucson.org/donate. The community groups we support through our Share the Plate (STP) program need our donations more than ever. Information about donations and STP will be made by email and when you participate in the online services.
 
Again, our best wishes from UUCT. I’m confident we will remain a strong community during this time of physical distancing.
 
Frank Valdes, UUCT Board President
 
(Photo above is of the only palm tree standing after a Japanese Tsunami. Now protected)
 
Contact Frank at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jamili Omar
Director, LFD
 
Circles of Care
 
"Physical Distancing" NOT "Social Isolation"
In order to keep in touch with each other even when we can't literally "touch," we are creating Circles of Care, a program which will connect households of all sizes to offer one another support, care, and diversion.
 
Circles of Care Sign Up here: https://tinyurl.com/CareCircle
 
Circles will...
·       keep us connected to our UUCT Family
·       be geographically-based, demographically diverse
·       offer friendship, food, medicines, and spiritual resources as we are able
·       pair those who are most vulnerable with those who are less at risk
·       provide an "early warning" for our family who are in need and not reaching out to the Care Team.
 
We hope that these Circles will allow us to connect with those UUCT folks who are our literal neighbors in ways we wouldn’t otherwise, and to build new networks of support that can last far beyond this situation.
 
Interested in joining a Circle?
·       Use this link: https://tinyurl.com/CareCircle
·       Or email Jamili at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Beyond Circles of Care?
 
We also want to be responsive to all who may be needing a little extra support. There’s so much about this experience that can produce anxiety, grief, confusion. It may cause serious financial hardship. It can bring up past traumatic experiences and crises.
 
This is in addition to whatever challenge, grief, or anxiety you may be facing in your life already. We are here for you.
 
Please let us know what’s going on in your world, and how we can best journey with you in this time.
 
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., even if you aren’t yet sure what you might need!
 
With love from your Program Staff,
 
Rev. Bethany Russell-Lowe, Mary Wiese, Jamili Omar, and Brian Moon
 
 
Worship Schedule
April 2020
 
Following is the worship schedule for the eight weeks currently planned for online worship.(In every case, the first person listed is the lead minister, the second person is support.) This is a joint venture of the Baja 4 congregations, led by their ministers:
 
  • Rev. Bethany Russell-Lowe, Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson
 
  • Rev. Tina Squire, Sky Islands UU, Sierra Vista
 
  • Rev. Matthew Funke Crary, Borderlands UU, Amado
 
  • Rev. Sam Wilson, Mountain Vista UU, Tucson
 
April 5 - Rev. Tina Squire, Rev. Bethany Russell-Lowe
 
April 12 - Rev. Sam Wilson, Rev. Matthew Funke Crary
 
April 19  - Janine Gelsinger of UUJAZ, Rev. Sam Wilson
 
April 26  - Rev. Matthew Funke Crary, Rev. Tina Squire
 
May 3 - Southern Arizona CUUPS, Rev. Bethany Russell-Lowe
 
May 10 - Baja 4 Congregational Ministers
 
As you all know, everything these days is in flux and subject to change at any time. This is the plan as of today,
and it could change. 
 
Worship Committee will meet via Zoom on Saturday, May 9 at 9:30 a.m. to finalize the schedule for the summer.
Finance Report
JD Garcia
 
I did not know until I heard from Mary at the Board Meeting that our income was at a very low level for the last two weeks. Of course, that is unsustainable. 
 
Please allow me to say in simple terms how I view the situation.
 
According to our yearly budget, we expect to receive and spend about $33,000 per month. (see below for a layout of the budget in these terms). Because our budget is balanced, and expenses are mostly fixed expenses, we will spend $33,000 each month, no matter what. 
 
Pledges make up about $21,000 per month. We may recover some of those funds later (maybe). The plate portion is not likely to be made up. 
 
Depending on how long this COVID-19 recession closure lasts, we may have to consider more drastic moves.  At this time wehave only about one month’s reservein money market funds to borrow from ourselves.
 
Below are the figures.  Averaging over a whole year, we have:
 
                        INCOME                                                                                     
2019-2020 Total Budget:  
$33,100 per month
  
  1. Pledges $20,800 per month
  2. Plate & donations $ 2,900 per month
  3. Rentals $5,600 per month 
  4. Other (auction, trip, etc.) $3,800 per month
 
EXPENSE
 
  1. Salaries, taxes & Benefits $22,000 per month
  2. Utilities $3,000 per month
  3. Maintenance supplies, etc. $8,100 per month
 
We should all try to help each other remember to keep our pledges up to date. Please encourage other members who may be able to do so, to increase their giving in order to help us out. 
 
Galen Meyer
Community Life
Sam Meyer
 
 As we all adjust to this “new normal,” it is important to remain connected. Many of the community groups continue to meet online or through phone calls and email. 
 
  • Need to connect with some fun guys? Touch base with Rick Meyer. 
 
  • Looking for a good book to read? Talk to Margo Newhouse and see what the book club has been up to. 
 
  • If you want more information on one of the other groups like LGBTQIA, Spirituality Club, Grief Group (and aren’t we all mourning our regular routines?), Social-meet-up, Social Justice, Choir, Quilters, Gallery and many more, let me know and I can put you in touch with the leader in charge. Some of the small group ministries are also still meeting. 
 
I hope to see some of you on the daily zoom lunches next week. It is more important than ever that as we are apart, we connect socially in whatever way we can. 
 
Care Teamwill have lots of phone calls and cards to write in the coming weeks and is always welcoming more helping hands.  
 
Or, consider joining aCircle of Careled by Jamili and supporting (and being supported by) those geographically close to you. 
 
Your UUCT community is here for you! Start here:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Board & Community Life Portfolio
 
(Photo above is Galen Meyer) 
 
LGBTQAI+ GROUP
 
Face to face meetings are temporarily cancelled. However, if you have a concern, need or just want to talk with someone send an email to:
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
with your phone number and a supportive person will call you .
 
All are welcome!
For information contact:
 
Jerry or Bob at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or by phone: 441-274-4051
 
 
TBIRDS - Howard Tolley
 
April 2 - West Side Circle of Caring Zoom meetings are held every Thursday at 7 pm and will include all TBIRD Members. This ZOOM MEETING CONNECTION IS DIFFERENT THAN UUCT.
 
Or dial 346 248 7799 and enter Meeting ID: 203 419 7034.
 
Tucson UU Younger Adults
(TUUYA) Meet Ups
 
Do you identify as a young adult (generations X, Y, or Z)? Would you like to meet up with other UU young adults? TUUYA regularly hosts events and meet ups.
 
To stay in the loop make sure that Janice (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Jamili (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) has your email or join us on Facebook: by searching Tucson UU Younger Adults (TUUYA).
 
latte_coffee.jpg
Conversations with Friends
 
Ronna James
and Gilbert Moore
 
You can connect to Zoom by computer, or by telephone. The log-in for both options is below. I put some directions below each option. Please read through those directions before the Zoom meeting on Wednesday. 
 
Zoom Log-in Information: Join by computer (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc): https://us04web.zoom.us/j/7690063297
If you are joining by video over a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you will want to download Zoom beforehand. You can do that here: https://zoom.us/download
 
Join by phone: 1-669-900-6833,
Meeting ID: 769 006 3297
 
If you are joining by phone, simply call in to the 1-669 number a few minutes before 2:30 on Wednesday and put in the Meeting ID when prompted. Once in the meeting, you can mute yourself and un-mute yourself by pressing "*6" (asterix, then the number 6). 
 
The Zoom log-in information will be the same each week, so keep this email or copy the information into a safe place. 
 
UUJAZ News - Janine Gelsinger
 
Petition for Compassionate Release
 
Following the lead of groups of UUs organizing in Ohio, New York, California, Chicago and Boston, we in Arizona are calling for compassionate release of those in detention centers and prisons. Our UU values call us to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of all people. No one deserves to die in a cage from a preventable virus, yet those who are incarcerated lack the cleaning and personal care, space, and medical care, to stay protected from Covid-19. We remember that Anne Frank didn't die in a gas chamber, rather from a communicable illness in a crowded detention center. Future generations will ask us what we did in this time. Let's be people we can be proud of. Read more and sign here: https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/decarcerate-arizona-criminalization-and-incarceration-are-not-public-healthcare-solutions-1
 
CARES Act support for Non-Profit Partners
 
Are you a UU (or do you know one?) who can read through the paperwork for applying for a non-profit forgivable loan (basically an emergency grant) from the government through the CARES Act that was recently passed? It will provide money for payroll and health benefits, so it is the difference between keeping folks fighting for justice, or leaving them without jobs. It doesn't take specific prior knowledge, just the willingness to read and fill out forms. If so, please contact Janine This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.: we have several partner groups needing help in staying afloat in this critical time.
 
SAZCUUPS
EJ Millstone
 
 
What Is Waning
Our Wheel of the Year class went great! Participants had great feedback and questions. We also held our very first online ritual for Mabon. We had 23 brave souls join and it went really well. Thank you for your patience as we sort out how to adjust to these changing times. 
What Is Waxing 
We have created a Circle of Care specifically for members of SAZCUUPS. We are offering virtual hangouts for our members to connect with each other throughout the upcoming uncertain time. To join, email us at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Please note, this is formembers only--if you want to join SAZCUUPS as a dues-paying member, let us know! 
 
OurSecond Sundayclass offering this month is Intuitive Tarot Methods. The purpose of this intermediate-level class is to get away from using tarot books that give page after page of card meanings to developing a meaningful, intuitive practice of your own.
 
Memorizing the 78 card meanings is not required! This class will be held via Zoom online.
 
NOTE: CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED: To reserve your spot on April 12th at 12:30pm and get the meeting number, send an email to:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by April 5. Bring your own deck to this online gathering. All are welcome, but you must have a basic familiarity with tarot. 
 
Join us for our Annual Membership Meeting on Saturday, April 11th at 2pm. We will be electing a new Coordinating Officer. Interested in running? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Our Beltane ritual will be on May 2nd at 6 pm. Keep an eye on announcements about how we will be offering this ritual! 
 
Pagan Tip of The Month 
A Ritual for Uncertainty (modified from Light Magic for Dark Times by Lisa Marie Basile)
Materials
Paper, pen jar (or just fold the paper) herbs, flowers, petals, witch hazel or water.
 
On the paper, write down what things you're struggling with--your fears, your what-ifs, your uncertainties laid bare, and be sure to add how these thoughts are affecting you. Fold the paper and put it in the jar (or just fold it). Fill the jar (or tuck inside the paper) with herbs and petals that represent your blooming with and beyond this day and its uncertainty. 
 
Fill the jar with witch hazel (or clean water) to symbolize the drowning and banishing of negativity and fear. (You can also just soak the packet of paper and herbs in water or witch hazel). Take the jar or paper outside and bury it deep in the soil. If no soil, you can throw the jar away in the trash. As you do, say: "My light cannot be eclipsed; from darkness I only rise. I rise and rise, in light, alight."
 
Have a pagan tip to share? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
All traditions welcome!
 
Southern Arizona CUUPS: A Chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans 
Mail: Southern Arizona CUUPS c/o UUCT, 4831 E. 22nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85711
Web: http://uuctucson.org/worship/sazcuups.html  | Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SAZCUUPS/ (FB messages can be sent to m.me/SAZCUUPS
Chat group: 
 
UUCT BOOK CLUB - Another New Normal
UUCT Book Club - Meets on 2nd Thursdays from 9:30-11:30
Join by computer: https://zoom.us/j/435065986
 
Join by phone: +1 669 900 6833   Meeting ID: 435 065 98
Questions? Contact Margo atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The poetry and prose below were submitted by UUCT community members.
Thanks to all who contributed.
 
Sweet morning smells
Margot Weaver Garcia
 
       As I walk
       The early morn
       The smells of waking,
And starting the day,
Greet my steps.
 
Up the block
The sharp smell of frying bacon,
Around a corner
The sweet smell of muffins,
Across the street,
The tangy smell of pancakes cooking,
And at the next house,
Coffee’s fulfilling aroma.
At the schoolyard,
The dense scent of magnolia startles me.
The waxy white large strong blossoms
Against the shiny dark leaves.
What perfume!
 
Each scent a gift,
Generated by our daily tasks,
Done for self or family,
The scents flow into
The neighborhood and entwine,
Enriching the day,
Creating the connected-ness
Of community.
Grace     by Alice Walker                    
 
Gives me a day              
Too beautiful              
I had thought              
To stay indoors              
& yet             
Washing my dishes              
Straightening              
My shelves              
Finally              
Throwing out              
The wilted              
Onions              
Shrunken garlic              
Cloves              
I discover              
I am happy              
To be inside looking out.              
This, I think,              
Is wealth.              
Just this choosing              
Of how              
A beautiful day              
Is spent.  
 
Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems, Alice Walker, Random House 2002 
Good News for Indigenous Peoples - Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
 
In a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a federal judge struck down permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline, the notorious oil pipeline that crosses the Tribe’s ancestral lands.
 
A federal court found the Trump administration violated the law when it issued permits for the project. Specifically, the Court found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to consider the health and environmental impacts to the Tribe in the event of an oil spill.
 
The Obama administration had it right when it moved to deny the permits in 2016, and this is the second time the Court has ruled that the government ran afoul of environmental laws when it permitted this pipeline.
 
The Court has now ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare a full environmental impact statement on the pipeline, something that the Tribe has sought from the beginning of this controversy.
 
This victory came about through years of perseverance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who persisted in challenging the pipeline through the ups and downs of major court victories and setbacks.
 
Last week’s hearing took place despite unprecedented hurdles, as traveling to D.C. for the hearing became too dangerous amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A virtual hearing was held and I was able to deliver arguments over the telephone on behalf of the Tribe.
 
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith said,
“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win. It’s humbling to see how actions we took four years ago to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet.”
 
This fight is about justice and sovereignty, and we will continue to see it through until the Dakota Access Pipeline has finally been shut down.
 
Aspen’s Time Out - Steve Kraynak
 
Late on a Saturday winter morning I stood third in the check-out line at a neighborhood Ace Hardware Store. The first man in line was buying a large assortment of paint supplies: brushes, plastic drop cloths, rolls of blue masking tape, and several gallons of paint. I patiently waited holding onto a mini shopping cart. The sunlight streaming in through the double glass doors and large windows revealed some mottled bright colors near the floor at the feet of the man in front of me. The colors were moving and reflected the sunlight. 
            The first customer signed his charge card receipt and exited. The next man in line put his cell phone in his pocket and stepped around something on the floor to reach Maria, the cashier. He placed his selection of plumbing supplies on the counter to be scanned. As he talked with Maria, I pushed my cart a step forward. Directly in front of it sat a little girl. 
She faced sideways, toward the check-out counter, and looked to be about four years of age, or a little more. Her clothes were carefully coordinated, a white short-sleeve flower print blouse neatly tucked into blue denim bib overalls, and clean white tennis shoes with white socks. Her dark brown hair was arranged in a long braid that nearly touched the dirty black floor mat upon which she sat. Attached at the bottom of the braid was a large plastic butterfly barrette, yellow with pink polka dots.
           Now in the unrestricted light I clearly saw the source of the colors. On the little girl’s left arm, from her wrist to her shoulder, was arrayed a line of spiral plastic one-ring key holders, the kind that stretch over the hand and grip the wrist. Each plastic spiral was carefully spaced from the others. The vivid colors shone in the sunlight. Shocking pink, lemon yellow, bright lime, neon orange, cherry red, and violet, wended their way up to her shoulder.
           I leaned over my mini cart and spoke to the little girl. “Those colored bands are beautiful. Where did you get them?” She looked up and smiled at me and pointed to an empty wire bin underneath the check-out counter, directly at her eye level. Adjoining bins still teemed with batteries, mini flashlights and breath mints. “I like those,” I said as I straightened and continued to watch her as she admired her new-found jewelry. 
While the man I assumed to be the girl’s father had been talking on his phone as he waited in line, his little daughter had been busy adorning herself with bracelets, making herself beautiful. She sat in the middle of the Ace Hardware check-out line happily oblivious as the adults around her were busy buying and selling. Delighted, she quietly hummed to herself.  
           Her young father completed his purchase, turned, stood over her and quietly said, “Aspen, we have to go now. Please put those back.” Without looking up at him, and while still admiring the rainbow on her arm, Aspen replied in a determined manner, “No.  I don’t want to.” 
Aspen’s father inhaled deeply. He stooped down next to her, gently put his hand on her wrist, and quietly said, “Aspen, please put those backnow. Mommy’s waiting for us. She has lunch ready. And Daddy has to fix the leak under the kitchen sink.” Aspen was unmoved. Still looking at her bangles she shook her head and again refused, more loudly saying, “No, Daddy! I don’t want to!”
As Aspen and her father blocked the now longer check-out lane, Maria the cashier and I looked at each other and exchanged cautious smiles. The people queued behind me began to exhibit adult behaviors of impatience: throat clearing, loud sighing, coughing, one generic groan, and, from the back of the line, an exasperated and barely muffled, “Shit!” We all waited. 
Her father persisted. “Aspen, please look at me.” Aspen did so reluctantly. He continued gently but forcefully, “I need you to put those back in the bin,now. We have to go home. Mommy is waiting for us.” It looked as if his second invocation of Mommy had an effect on Aspen because, after a short pause, she slowly removed one plastic bracelet and put it back in the wire bin. Sighs of relief arose from the line behind me. Maria smiled and motioned to me to step around the father and daughter. 
           As I pushed my cart around them, I noticed Aspen removing another bracelet. Her father waited patiently while she carefully removed the others, one-by-one, and gingerly put each back into the bin, arranging them by color. As I unloaded a garden hose and bottles of spa chemicals from the cart, I heard Aspen’s father say, “No, Aspen, please put that one back too. We’re not buying any of those today.” 
I quietly chatted with Maria during the few minutes it took me to check out and pay for my merchandise. For a moment I forgot about Aspen and her father. I assumed they had resolved their situation and were on their way home, to Mommy and lunch.  
But as I turned to leave, I was surprised to see Aspen’s father standing a few feet off to my right, near the paint mixing station. He stood calmly holding his plastic bag of plumbing supplies at his side. I followed his gaze to where two wooden folding chairs were placed on either side of a small café table, a place for customers to wait for their paint to be mixed.
           There in the chair nearer to him, calmly sitting with her ankles crossed and her legs slowly swinging back-and-forth, sat Aspen. She was singing to herself. I glanced at Aspen’s father in disbelief as if to say, “You’re still here. What happened?” Returning my look he sighed aloud, “She put herself in Time Out.” Again I looked at Aspen, still singing, and now looking directly at me.  
           As I looked back and forth between them, I pursed my lips and wrinkled my forehead to indicate that I understood both the complicated nature and importance of this new development. I did not want to appear to be taking sides or passing judgment in this family matter. “Un huh,” I offered. “I see.” 
           While we looked at each other, I carefully pushed my mini-cart three small steps toward Aspen. Her legs were still slowly swinging. “Aspen,” I said quietly. “It was nice meeting you today. I’m going home now. It’s time for lunch, and I’m hungry.” I paused briefly then continued precisely. “I’m going to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk.” Aspen watched my face intently. I persisted. “What is your Mommy making you for lunch today?”
Aspen’s legs stopped swinging. Her face went blank and she opened her eyes wide, as if the very idea of lunch on this day had never occurred to her. She shrugged her shoulders once. “Well, whatever you have for lunch, I hope you enjoy it. Goodbye.” 
           I turned away from Aspen and looked at her young father still patiently waiting. I raised both of my eyebrows as I passed him. He offered me a thank you nod, and I returned a sly smile. 
I lifted my purchases from the cart and pushed it off to the side. With the garden hose pulling on my left arm and the plastic bag full of spa chemicals tugging on my right, I resolutely walked out of the Ace Hardware, delightedly humming to myself. 
 
 
The Guest House - Jalal ud-din Rumi
 
This being human is a guest house,
Every morning is a new arrival.
A joy,a depression, a meanness. 
 
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
 
Welcome and entertain them all!
 
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture.
 
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
 
The dark thought, the shame, the malice. 
Meet them at the door laughing and let them in.
 
Be grateful for whatever came because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
 
Reading for the Day by Mark Belletini
 
Let the sky above me unroll like a scroll,
and let me read upon it today’s text for my life:
“You are alive, here and now.
Love boldly and always tell the truth.”
 
Let the wind arrange the naked branches
of the maples and aspens and oaks
into letters which proclaim this sacred text:
“Your heart beats now, not tomorrow or yesterday. Love the gift of your life and do no harm.”
 
Let the eyes and hands and faces of all men and women and children with whom I share this earth be chapter and verse in this great scripture text:
“Life is struggle and loss, and also
tenderness and joy.
Live all of your life, not just part of it.”
 
And now let all the poems and scriptures and novels and films and songs and cries and lullabies and prayers and anthems open up before our free hearts.
 
Let them open like a Torah, like a psalm, like a gospel, like an apocalypse
and let them proclaim:
“Do not think you can take away each other’s troubles, but try to be with each other in them. Remember that you are part, not all, great, but not by far the greatest, small precious brief breaths
in the great whirlwind of creation.”
 
And remember that every single human word is finally and divinely cradled in the strong and secure arms of Silence.

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