I was up very early Monday morning and was graced with the most beautiful full moon. The Beaver Moon rose early this week, and it was a stunning sight after a rainy, dreary Sunday. It is humbling and comforting to be aware that this full moon is visible to every creature around the world, a reminder that we are all connected.
The Beaver Moon gets its name primarily from the indigenous peoples of North America and Europe. It is so named for the time of year when the steadfast and industrious beaver stores all of her food, fortifies her shelter, and prepares for survival through the bitter winter. Conversely, it was also a time of year when the beavers were hunted by humans in order to use their fur to keep warm and safe through the coldest months of the year.
The Cree and indigenous people of Europe also call this the Frost Moon to honor the onset of colder temperatures and nightly frosts. The Beaver Moon is the last moon before the winter solstice, so, in pagan traditions, it is considered the Mourning Moon. It is a time to release regrets and grief from the previous year and to look forward and prepare for a new season and year.
We humans can learn from our fellow earthlings, the beavers. We can take time to tie up projects before the end of the year. It is a beneficial time to assess the goals we set early in the seasons that did not work out as we planned and let them go. In this time, nature encourages us to to turn inward for this time of transition, to gather our strengths and resources and to dream and set our intentions for a new beginning.
For more concrete ideas to honor this time of year, Spirituality & Health offers “some ways to help align yourself with the spiritual energies of the full Beaver Moon:
Look at your schedule and plan to wrap up projects and slow down before the winter solstice.
Spend time dreaming and coming up with new ideas but delay action on those ideas until the new year. Let them gestate over the winter rather than trying to birth them immediately.
Warm up with hot tea, warm scarves, hot water bottles, and heating pads and spend time by a fire.
Sleep a little more than you usually would.
Spend more time with your closest loved ones.
Enjoy sensual experiences, like fresh baking, hot baths…
Direct your energy to your spiritual and internal practices, such as meditation, reflection, journaling, counseling, or whatever other form of spiritual and emotional connection works for you.
The Peculiar Brunette offers some thought-provoking journal prompts to help you get started with your Beaver Moon reflection:
What’s a recent situation or emotion that feels like a dam blocking your progress? How can you work to release or navigate this blockage?
Write down any emotions, thoughts, or physical things you’re ready to release during this Beaver Moon (maybe you can use them in a Beaver Moon Release Ritual: hint, hint).
Explore the idea of spiritual protection: What practices or rituals make you feel spiritually strong and resilient?
Who are you if everything was taken away from you (items, home, career, titles, etc.)?
How is your spiritual path inspired by Nature? How can you incorporate it more often into your daily life or rituals?
However you choose to connect and align with this season, I wish you much peace in this time of transition. I hope you take the time to nurture yourself and allow yourself to dream and to fortify your strength for the season of growth that lies ahead.
• • •
JOURNEY WITH US: The Climate Action Team is for you. Yes, you. Because you want to act on your love for the planet and because you need caring companions as you navigate these changing times. Learn all about the group here, and check out our lending library and Carbon Offset Fund. You can also request to join the Climate Action Team on Realm. Contact Jon Reese to connect to the CAT and join us for our next meeting on Zoom on Monday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 PM.
It’s our annual week to explore gratitude and to casually enjoy the company of others before the full waves of holiday hype crash upon us. Good health, family, friends, and material comfort are low-hanging sources of gratitude. As you prepare for or recover from over-feasting or intense family-ing, here’s an assortment of things you might add to your gratitude list before Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales dominate your mental airwaves.
Take a moment to breathe deeply and feel grateful for…
our lungs, which contain 300 million balloon-like structures known as alveoli. Go ahead, take another deep breath.
the moths that feed the Yellowstone bear, which can consume an average of 40,000 moths a day. At this rate, the bear can consume around one-third of its yearly energy requirements in just a month.
the human femur, which has four times the strength of the same size unit of concrete.
the more than 12,000 different ant species that make up a total of 1 million billion ants living on Earth. Why? According to Iowa State University: “Ants are among the leading predators of other insects, helping to keep pest populations low. Ants move approximately the same amount of soil as earthworms, loosening the soil in the process and increasing air and water movement into the ground. They keep the ecosystem clean of dead insect carcasses and aid in the destruction and decomposition of plant and animal matter. By carrying bits of plants and animal remains into their nests, the soil is fertilized and nutrients recycled through the world’s ecosystems. They carry seeds and help plants disperse into new areas.”
cougars, who – by eating herbivores with seeds in their stomachs and then leaving scat across a large range – are able to plant about 94,000 plants every year.
our hair (regardless of how much remains on your head). In the average lifetime, each of us will grow around 600 miles worth of hair. This is about twice the length of Lake Superior and equivalent to about 428.4 inches per strand of hair.
the 30 plants that generate 90% of the foods humans eat – even though there are over 80,000 edible plants in the world.
the brain’s storage capacity of 86 billion neurons and 1,000 trillion connections those neurons form with others. Think about that!
the orchid Vanilla planifolia, which is the source of one of my favorite flavorings.
all of the trees that surround us and redistribute up to 95% of the water they absorb into their roots and leaves. They reduce erosion and flooding and impact microclimates with the powerful cooling effect of their transpiration.
The Climate Action Team is grateful for its members, for all of you who have stopped by and talked with us after a worship service, for those who have checked out a book from our lending library, for those who have donated to the Carbon Offset Fund, for the support of the church’s staff and lay leadership, and for the ongoing efforts of all in the UUCA congregation and larger community to save and savor the Earth.
Recent promotions from the newly-formed mass incarceration advocacy group have used the language of “church-wide” to generate engagement on this very important issue. In fact, our board of trustees, led by David Yamashita, has as one of its goals to “support social justice with one all-congregation initiative.” This has gotten me to wondering.
At last week’s Social Justice Roundtable, a member of the Social Justice Coordinating Team voiced that, in her mind, all initiatives led by the church’s social justice groups are church-wide and inclusive. Indeed, a look at almost every Weekly Update highlights opportunities to participate with our Partners in Education locations, to contribute to Women Empowered’s supply drives, and to help provide meals in local shelters alongside members of the Homeless Advocacy Team.
As this year’s pledge drive pushes for a successful conclusion, we are reminded of our responsibility as members to regularly share our time, talents, and treasure. Is that commitment reflected in the participation rate of our various social justice groups? Could one scan the congregation on a Sunday morning and find that most attendees are active in one of these groups – or perhaps a non-UUCA social justice organization?
It seems like everyone agrees that social justice is woven into the cloth of UUism. Our longer-time members recall UUCA’s role in Atlanta’s civil rights history, and I’ve heard some bemoan that that time may have been the pinnacle of our social justice efforts. Is that so? Have other issues or needs diluted our social justice focus? Did the loss of our social justice staff position several years ago lead us off course somehow? The goal of the board to support one all-congregation initiative suggests the answer may be “yes.”
My understanding is that the board’s responsibilities generally revolve around policy, finance, and staff oversight – not necessarily program. That falls to RE, arts, worship, and music leadership. This pseudo-programming goal and the board’s intention to task a new assistant minister with social justice coordination makes it clear that the powers-that-be want UUCA to better exercise its social justice muscles and to operate with congregational solidarity in addressing pressing needs. I feel sure that current social justice team leaders would welcome wider congregational participation.
Many questions arise then: Who decides the issues that deserve the congregation’s focus? Is that a staff-driven, board-driven, or congregant-driven call? Should social justice groups lobby board leaders and staff or pitch proposals for future “all-congregation” initiatives to some decision-making committee? Is the good work currently being done by our social justice teams perceived as too diffuse, minimally impactful, and small beans? Is there a recent precedent of all-congregation initiatives that have generated widespread engagement and delivered big results? If so, how could we replicate that success?
The passion that motivates members of UUCA’s social justice teams is real. Small in size, these groups meet regularly, plan carefully, and work hard to live UU values. And these groups regularly invite the whole church to magnify their impact. Let’s be clear: these social justice groups are not simply representatives of the congregation. They are the wheels that keep UUCA’s social justice work on track. Whether greater impact requires board sanction or the efforts of a dedicated staff person is yet to be seen. The call to work towards the sixth principle – “the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” – calls on all of us, that’s “church-wide,” to share more generously of our time, talents, and treasures to help a world in need.
He-who-shall-not-be-named testified this week in his New York fraud trial. Horrific fighting between Israel and Hamas entered its second month. Environmental groups around the world began revving their bases’ engines in preparation for the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, which kicks off in two weeks.
And there’s a cat in my lap.
The CDC reported this week that the number of American newborns with syphilis shot up exponentially over the last ten years. House Republicans continued to disagree about funding the government when its current funding expires on Nov. 17. Some of Tuesday’s state elections focused on protecting abortion rights, legalizing pot, and shielding the richest from a “wealth tax.”
I don’t have a cat. I used to, but he’s been gone for over 15 years. He was a great cat, but this one? She’s not mine.
The Supreme Court began considering this week whether violent domestic abusers should be allowed to possess firearms. The American Library Association reported that book bans – and attempted bans – have hit record highs. After almost two years of war, about one-fifth of Ukraine is occupied by Russia.
The cat made her first appearance in my backyard a year ago and wanted nothing to do with my visiting family, who called to her from the fire pit. I figured she had snuck under the fence from a neighboring house. I didn’t see her again for months. Until this summer.
She returned, and she had company. A tiny striped kitten followed along, wide-eyed and very wary. Over several visits, the two built up the courage to climb the stairs and lounge in my deck chairs. The kitten was still nursing, and Mama didn’t seem to mind my presence.
Over three months, the duo made occasional appearances in the deepest part of the back yard, on the back deck, and even on my front porch. The kitten doubled in size and grew to appreciate a gentle pat and tug on the ears. She doesn’t accompany Mama anymore – I haven’t seen her in weeks. And the fact that a neighbor recently shared a video of two coyotes walking in front of my house in broad daylight doesn’t bode well.
But Mama has become a regular solo visitor. She now loves to be pet and circles around my legs until she’s gotten all the affection she can stand. I’ve begun rewarding her with a small bowl of milk, and I think she’s hooked. Now she looks through my glass kitchen door, waiting for an invitation inside. It’s not going to happen. She’s not my cat.
Earlier this week, on a picture-perfect afternoon, Mama jumped into my lap, stretched herself out with her chin resting on my wrist, and fell asleep. I took the picture you see here to prove to others that it really happened. Even as the news of the world whirled around my head, I became singularly aware of this fellow being, this life source, this trusting visitor. I watched her breathe, stroked her neck, and felt her lightness on my lap. Amidst all the troubling news, she was a furry comfort, and I rested in the warm brilliance of “the interdependent web of all existence.”
It was my responsibility to write this week’s post for the Save and Savor the Earth blog. I need to be honest: recently, I have been weary. My heart is heavy with the news of the day – the slaughter of innocent civilians in Israel and Gaza, the callousness of our new Speaker of the House looking to sacrifice funding to the Inflation Reduction Act to provide humanitarian aid. I am also coming away from a recent weekend with family members who are somehow able to deny or ignore the crisis that envelopes us. I was a bit lost and in need of inspiration. So, as one does, I searched the Internet for a boost. In the pursuit of that inspiration and spark, I came across some resources worth sharing.
The Climate Optimist is always a good go-to for positive forward looking news on climate change, but their post on the Climate Creators to watch was especially refreshing. Through this list, I found Oli Frost, who creates novelty songs about climate change such as “The Vampire Conspiracy” which he reveals that climate change is a conspiracy made up by socialist vampires!Quite a hoot.
The World Economic Forum featured “Future Forward,” a six-part docuseries in which “each character-driven storyline serves as an inspiring example of real, groundbreaking work happening now, demonstrating to other companies that a net-zero carbon journey is both possible and crucial.” Check out this trailer.
Since we UUs believe in our Seventh Principle, I suspect you often need inspiration as well. I hope these resources help buoy you to keep up the work!
• • •
JOURNEY WITH US: The Climate Action Team is for you. Yes, you. Because you want to act on your love for the planet and because you need caring companions as you navigate these changing times. Learn all about the group here, and check out our lending library and Carbon Offset Fund. You can also request to join the Climate Action Team on Realm. Contact Jon Reese to connect to the CAT and join us for our next meeting on Zoom on Monday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 PM.
We interrupt your normally-scheduled blog content to report that you have done something… GREAT! That is, if you have donated to UUCA’s Carbon Offset fund over the past several years. The Climate Action Team oversees the fund and voted several months ago to pay off the debt on the electric vehicle (EV) charging stations located in the parking lot on the side nearest the sanctuary. The COF grant, proposed by Sue Certain and Bryce Thomason, allocated $10,730 to pay off the debt incurred by the purchase and installation of the EV charging unit. You will now find a sign at the charger celebrating the generosity of all who contributed to the fund.
But wait, there’s more! The move to our new campus offered us the chance to be intentional about a larger green space, and the Climate Action Team approved funding from the COF to secure a plan to do just that. We are in the final stages of contracting with Shades of Green Permaculture to design a full-site plan that the church can implement with volunteer help as funding allows. This will be much more than a traditional planting plan. It will include water retention and storage as well as healthy land use. The cost of the permaculture plan is expected to be approximately $3,600.
Project Phoenix helped ensure that our facilities are energy efficient and minimize UUCA’s carbon footprint. Now, through the Carbon Offset Fund, the Climate Action Team is moving us toward a greener stewardship of our campus and our service to local EV drivers. You can learn more about the Carbon Offset Fund and make a contribution here. It’s an especially great thing to do after you have taken a trip – by car, plane, or cruise ship – that has had a negative carbon impact on the planet. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, 8 to 10% of global CO2 emissions are caused by the travel and tourism sector. Are you interested in calculating the carbon impacts of your travel and more? This calculator is a good starting point.
A huge thank you to all who have contributed to the Carbon Offset Fund! Demonstrate how how much you save and savor the Earth by making the COF a regular part of your post-travel giving at UUCA.