Blogs

Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.

Blogs

Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.
Rev. Deborah Cayer

Gratitude? Seriously?

After the year we’ve had, the time we’re currently having, you want me to think about what I’m grateful for? Seriously? Seriously. It took me a long time to learn this, but you don’t have to be happy to be grateful. In fact, gratitude actually is one of the quickest, surest, longest-lasting ways to find your happiness and maintain your equilibrium
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.             
Today our youngest granddaughter, Ava, celebrates her first birthday, and we’ll sing to her as a family over WhatsApp. None of us have seen her in person for more than ten months, because Ava and her mom have been in New Zealand since the island nation closed its borders last winter. I’m grateful that they’re in what is literally the safest country
How are you? When people ask me, sometimes I just move my hand in front of me like a cartoon sea serpent that’s swimming along in heavy seas. Probably like you, I go up and down, and at the same time, I find myself laughing often amid this incredible experience we’re all having together.
…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
Photo Credit: Rev. Jacqueline Brett  There is urgency in the air this fall about voting and democracy. There were folks in line at 7:00 am on the first day of early voting at ERUUF. By 8:00 am the line stretched from the Fellowship Hall, past the front of the CARE Building, around the side, and down into the back parking lot. Some voters broug
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
One of my favorite calendars comes as a set of four pages that are three feet long by 12” high.  At the top are pictures of the rising constellations, and it also depicts the phases of the moon and sun.  On the land and underground, it depicts seasons of bird and animal migrations, hibernations, gestations, and the time for rearing the next generation. It also shows growing and harvest seasons for various plants. Everything rises and falls in its own season, its own good time.  
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
More than once in recent months I’ve come across this beautiful calendar from 17th century Japan. It was created in 1685 by the court astronomer, Shibukawa Shunkai, who noted 24 distinct seasons based on natural phenomena ranging from Risshun (Beginning of spring) through Daikan (Greater cold) at the end of winter.
"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.
Thunder rumbles overhead and I’m trying to remember…is this a part of a normal early August afternoon? I hope so, because otherwise it’s way too easy to view it as an ominous foreshadowing of what’s still ahead with the pandemic, racial justice, hurricane season, climate change, the November elections, and more. This summer I’m trying hard to ackno
This week we wrapped up a 30 Day Racial Equity Challenge at ERUUF. The purpose was to create a compassionate and supportive learning space where White people could lean into our sometimes deep discomfort as we begin to recognize and dismantle racism within ourselves and our institutions. Over 100 participants and facilitators engaged in one daily l
My husband had this interesting conversation with our (at the time) six-year-old grandson. Husband: “Are you going fishing?” Grandson: “There are no fish in that lake.” My husband, puzzled, looking at the boats full of people fishing just offshore: “Why do you think there are no fish in the lake? Grandson, full of logic and self-assurance: “Well, I
This last school year seems to be divided between pre- and post-onset of the Coronavirus. In the last three months, we, as a culture and as individuals, have had to adapt, grow, be agile and resourceful, show up for each other, question safety, learn new things, try new things, do new things, change our habits and routines and our minds. These chal
I hope you were able to attend the online June 28 UUA General Assembly Sunday service, because it was deeply moving. And did anything look familiar? In addition to a great sermon and music, the Rev. Mykal Slack, who lives in Durham, was one of the preachers and Mykal recorded his parts of the service in the ERUUF sanctuary. The programing at GA is
Friends, I’ve been thinking of you and hope you are well. I hope that you are keeping your mind and heart open as the pandemic of racism has been laid bare on our screens these past couple weeks. Some among us have long known the real story about race in our country; some of us are just now waking up to it. If you are a Person of Color, I’m holding
"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
We are being ‘awakened’ in new ways to the interconnectedness of all humanity and the ripple effect of that interconnectedness through our actions. As a response to the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic that has affected every one of us, people are finding creative ways to give expression to their feelings through po
“It’s a huge danger to pretend that awful things do not happen. But you need enough hope to keep going. I am trying to make hope. Flowers grow out of darkness.” (Corita Kent)   I do not know how this happened, but really, a full moon, Friday the 13th, spring forward into Daylight Saving Time, and the impact of COVID-19 all in one week? Se
Thank you for helping to expand our compost and recycling efforts on campus. As we continue to live into our commitment to care for the earth, each of us plays a big part in creating the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. The waste reduction project has made great progress in the past year. Yes, this requires learning new habits and
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
Social scientists say that resilience is our ability to bounce back. While this seems quite true, I have a hunch that spiritual resilience is about an even deeper connection that can help us survive a killing season. Like a tree bent by prevailing winds, how might resilience help us stay vitality alive in body, mind, and spirit even after terrible
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
It finally feels like winter around here, and for this short season I welcome it. The chance to slow down and eat dinner in front of a fire, flip through a seed catalog, doodle and splash some color onto a clean page, make a call to a longtime friend for an overdue chat, all beckon with promise. Outside by day bare winter branches reach for the cle
As we roll into the new year you may notice a few improvements on campus. In the past two years almost every roof on campus has been replaced, including half the Care bldg. with a metal roof in preparation for a major solar installation this spring (more info coming soon). There is a new system to support composting and recycling at ERUUF on a larg
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
In the midst of uncertainty of many varieties, this fall I’ve been looking for renewal everywhere I can find it. A great source has been a new garden that Chris and I designed and helped install in our backyard in October. After heavy rain that caused our basement to flood with “compost tea” (solid compost that was originally intended for the garde
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
Ahhh… we’re finally getting a delightful taste of crisp weather! The shortening days signal the transition to a fall season with glorious leaf color, bird migrations and fresh scented air. Upcoming elections and world political, social and economic challenges may create greater uncertainty that can add to the stressors of daily living. I believe as
Good grief! We, in NC, know the magnitude of Hurricane Florence’s wind and rain. Severe flooding has wreaked havoc south and east of the Triangle; and, it will take many years to recover. People, livestock, pets, fish and other wild critters are displaced. There is much to grieve in the loss of lives, homes and other structural damage. Good grief!
What a frantic week of preparation for a terrifying storm, and what a relief that Hurricane Florence weakened and turned away from our area. And yet, how shocking to watch reports of rising flood waters turning eastern North Carolina cities into islands and major interstates into scenic rivers. On Sunday, September 16 we raised over $3,800 for reli
We Come with a Dream created by the Soul Matters Team We come bound by the threads of a dream Of all walking together side by side, none of us above or below Less or more or forgotten. A dream that more is possible even more than we have yet imagined. A dream of kindness and connection that softens and turns us toward each other with tenderness. A
Jane Fonda recently was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by director Michael Moore at the Traverse City Film Festival. She’s known for her career as an actress. Now, at age 80, she continues to be an inspiration as an activist and an elder, as she speaks for the environment and other causes. A few months ago as part of my Sage-ing® Legacy tra
What was the most fun you’ve had recently? This past July my husband and I went to work on our backyard. For three weeks, he took a saw, pickax and finally a shovel to privet clumps. One large stump was so entwined and heavy that it took three people to carry it away. It looked awfully hard, and Chris would come into the house soaked with sweat, co
 Every summer it was the same. Pack a sleeping bag, and a week’s worth of contraband snacks, and take the seven hour bus ride to Haliburton, Ontario. The attraction was a youth camp for reform Judaism. The Jewish youth circle in my small town never exceeded a handful, so I was always happy to make the trip. Invariably, by the end of the first
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
Ten years ago this week I began what I thought would be a one year interim ministry at ERUUF. Wow….life is what happens while you’re making other plans, yes? When I visited that June to sign a contract and find an apartment, the moment my feet touched the earth here on campus a strange thought resonated through my whole body as if I were a bell: “I
August is upon us, bringing with it back-to-school energy, orientations, retreats, camping trips, new classes, new friends, new teachers. August, with all it's newnesses, holds the promise of possibility. We sign up and sign on for the possibilities of personal and communal transformation. In R.E., we let ourselves dream of the possibilities. We dr
I've been reflecting this month on the various ways our community finds refreshment and renewal of mind, body and spirit. June is the month UUA gathers at General Assembly, which you know well is a place and time for such refreshment. During these summer days many vacation with their family and friends. Some choose a 'stay-cation' to rest and recha
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
“It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”  The Diary of a Young Girl,
You might have heard that one of Rev. Barber’s latest endeavors is to pick up the civil rights agenda that has lain dormant since Dr. King’s assassination. Rev. Barber has partnered with Rev. Liz Theoharris, a long time anti-poverty advocate from New York. Together they’re leading this spring’s Poor People’s Campaign in 30 states, including North C
Welcome to a new version of the ERUUF web site! The primary intention is to show the ERUUF community in action, with a focus on the shared ministry teams and values of the fellowship. The invitation is to explore and find your way on the site and in this beloved community. By design, it is set up to encourage exploration instead of linear mapping.
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
It’s been an amazing year at ERUUF. A generous member challenged us last December; they would match what members could raise dollar for dollar up to $250,000. Members stepped up and we more than met the match. As a result ERUUF has been able to pay off its $104,000 mortgage and put the rest into a reserve fund for scheduled maintenance (the big stu
The phrase ‘it takes a village’ is often used to describe the many ways we acknowledge the importance and value community plays in the midst of our daily lives. Here at ERUUF on a recent Tuesday afternoon, I witnessed the ‘village’ come together as the sanctuary filled with people from ERUUF and the broader community to honor Sue Coon. Nineteen cel
Hello R.E.! This last Sunday was our last day of the regular R.E. program year, before we start Summer R.E. All R.E. classes celebrated the year, reflected on the stories, games, songs, discussions, and spiritual practices they have experienced over the course of the year. During the worship service, we took a moment to recognize many ERUUFians who
Currently in Nebraska, I am participating in the Ancestral Healing Walk from Rosebud, SD to Ft Laramie, WY culminating April 29th when we process into the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) treaty camp that will be gathering at the fort. It is a remembrance of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the 1868 Treaty with US government and Native Am
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
The Black Lives Matter banner at the UU congregation in Winston-Salem has been stolen several times now. So often, in fact, that my intrepid colleague, Rev. Lisa Schwartz, bought a spare the last time she re-ordered. Which was great, because on Sunday April 22, when someone not only stole their banner for the 3rd time, but also spray painted "WHITE
My family leave time was amazing, challenging, funny, strange, and precious. We finally got to meet Emery Tyler Ferrell, and at 3 months, we are just starting to get to show him the world. He has been patient with Brian and I as we bumble through early parenthood, and when he smiles, he lights up all the corners of my heart. He is doing so well, an
Emma Gonzalez. A tiny young woman who arrested our attention with the way she held space for grief and outrage not with words, but 6½ minutes of silence, the amount of time it took a gunman to kill 17 of her classmates and friends. She could have spoken, and it would have been a significant moment.Instead, her presence, raw courage, and commitment ...
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 windy month of March brings with it the beautiful signs of Spring. They are all around our ERUUF campus and our neighborhoods. Trees bursting forth with color and bulbs breaking through the earth's surface, all beckoning us to step outdoors, to work in our yards, to feel the earth in our hands, and to smell the fresh air with its hints of flora...
Recently in service we had the opportunity to experience the power of gospel together. Our Eno River Singers and Beloved Community Chorus joined with singers from One Human Family, accompanied by a powerful rhythm section, all under the baton of Dr. Raymond Wise. While not everyone personally espouses the religious traditions at the roots of gospel...
We read the headlines at our house and shake our heads. Is this the Times or the Onion, we ask each other in disbelief. The world that we've known and prepared for is battered daily; institutions take big hits and falter; protections we had come to take for granted are no more. Is this just the way the pendulum swings, part of the big shifts of cul...
Through the fall and early winter ERUUFians took the initial steps toward Green Sanctuary accreditation. Green Sanctuary is a program offered by the UUA to give congregations a pathway of study, reflection, and action in response to environmental challenges, most notably climate change. It provides a structure for congregations to examine their cur...
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 ...
The Special Campaign for facilities maintenance concluded Jan 31, 2018 and raised $320,768. The match grant challenge of $250,000 will bring the total to $570,768. The remarkable generosity of the Fellowship will enable ERUUF to care for the campus well into the future. The immediate plan is to pay off the remaining mortgage ($104,000 paid Feb 2018...
Each year, the Eno River Fellowship Foundation (ERFF) awards grants from the endowment for projects that make a significant difference in supporting our ERUUF mission and priorities. We fund creative, seminal initiatives and enrichment of our facilities to fulfill our promises. We request that proposals have a direct link to ERUUF's Strategic Plan ...
The sky this new year has been the pure, clear blue that comes when arctic air rushes down from the North Pole and sweeps it clean. It appears overhead like a bright fresh page that could hold any great vision, every resolution and best intention. But once imagined up above the fray of our everyday world, how do we bring these visions and ideals do...
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...
Throughout these past weeks I have been reflecting upon the beautiful tapestry of our diverse ERUUF community. There are so many ways to find one's place here and develop relationships within this spiritual home. With any large community there are always individuals who are living in the midst of some life challenge which can be supported by the Pa...
#MeToo. I have to admit that at first I didn't understand how tweeting about this could make a significant difference. Oh, I believed the women who were telling their stories. But while that's an awesome first step, it takes more to create lasting change. We know, because we've done this before. More than fifty years ago small groups met in living ...
How is it with your spirit? What's holding you in balance after big losses? Amid big political and climate changes? What's holding you steady in the times when life doesn't unfold as you had expected? Me? I've been walking a lot more. I've reduced my intake of the news and have limited my time on Facebook. I try to read balanced reporting from reli...
My husband, granddaughter and I went on a half day rafting trip down the Nantahala River on August 21. We were in a group of about 100 very lucky people who paddled downstream between mountains that rose up steeply on either side of the river. We rested in a cove as the color seemed to drain from the world. The air temperature dropped to 63 degrees...