Located in Alabama, near the home of the Civil Rights Institute, is the beautiful mountain crested sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham, a church with a proud history of uncountable contributions to the promotion of racial equality in the South. Nestled in the woods, it is surrounded by patios with full gardens and a scrolled gateway, welcoming even in the stark of winter.
On my visit, the Rev. Lone J. Broussard spoke about “Our Blue Boat Home.” Although the song of the same name (by folk singer Peter Mayer) is familiar to most Unitarians, Rev. Broussard stressed the need for our faith to overcome our “compassion fatigue” as related to the ongoing issues of global warming, and to humankind’s limitless reaping of the earth’s bounty without regard to her future. While requesting such a task, she also explained how the possibility of self-sufficiency has been achieved by many, including the Danish Isle of Samsø, a model for eco-friendly living as well as progressive example to us all.
Metaphorically speaking, she went on to describe the “elephant in the room” that sits and makes himself at home, eventually wandering off when ignored, well expressing our own convictions as they come and go with whatever happens to be the ‘popular’ cause of the day. Yes we need improved gun regulations, and yes we need to be concerned with equal rights, and yes we need an end to war–but what are these issues without a home for humankind and the abundance of life that we share our earth with?
In ending, Rev. Broussard asked the old question, “How do you eat an elephant?” (Of course, the answer is one bite at a time!) However, I would love to now ask that we all invite Mr. and Ms. Elephant into our homes for tea, questioning them in detail, inquiring, drilling and finding our compassion once again within their stories.
To learn more about the UUC of Birmingham: http://www.uucbham.org/
For information on the Isle of Samsø: http://www.visitsamsoe.dk/en/
Peter Mayer’s website: http://www.petermayer.net/news/
To hear Peter Mayer’s “Blue Boat Home”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtZUM0JhLvc&list=PLD5C3A9F3B5204E83
What fun! Here, on a cold, rainy day, at the home of Space Camp and “Rocket City,” (Huntsville) Alabama, Austin and I enjoyed a full day of continuous interactive learning at the “Math Alive” exhibit presented by Raytheon, and at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. Though not cheap, costing us $41.oo (with discounted purchase at Redstone Arsenal ITR) for admission and one IMAX movie, this was the best math learning experience that Austin has ever had. Even he stated as we left that he “didn’t once get bored.” An impressive statement if you know Austin well!
Favorites were the IMAX presentation, “Magnificent Desolation,” about the surface of the moon and the astronauts’ advantages and difficulties getting around and working while on the surface, also, even though very difficult, the F-18 Flight Simulator was a fun test on patience and multitasking. There is even a full size Apache simulator but it comes with a 13-year-old AND 5′ tall requirement in order to be able to operate it but Austin is neither quite yet.
Unfortunately for us, the campus was so large and with so many interactive stations that we couldn’t get to them all, and with the rain on us we spent very little time outside at the numerous displays. But what could be a better problem than having so many learning opportunities at one site that as hard as you tried, you couldn’t get to them all? In the end, we both agreed that if ever back in Huntsville, this will again be a must visit!
Our fishing outing on the bank had a bit of a twist to it today–
Thanks Mr. Duck for the great pictures!
Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi
Last weekend while leaving our home state of Texas, Austin and I made one last had-to stop in Beaumont. Owned by conservationist Gary Saurage, Gator Country is an alligator rescue facility in the East Texas bayou country. With over 300 live alligators, plus many other reptiles and animals, the facility is touted as the “premier alligator wildlife park in Texas.” Saurage has been featured on CMT, Animal Planet, Bravo and A&E, as well as international documentaries. Currently he can be seen guest starring with Billy the Exterminator on A&E.
While there we enjoyed the ability to touch and pet alligators, tortoises, a raccoon, and a large albino boa named Banana. And although the facility is on winter schedule, Gary himself joined in our group and made sure our experience was both exciting and educational.
This is a great stop for kids of all ages. There is a full playground for the children to let loose, and activities for adults and children including fun interactive educational shows.
For more information on visiting Gator Country: http://gatorrescue.com/
Texas! Back to my home state but still so far from home! Today Austin and I attended the First Unitarian Church of Dallas in none other than the Lone Star State. Although the church community began there over 100 years ago, the current Frank Lloyd Wright-esque sanctuary is an homage to fluid space and shared community. The architect, Harwell Hamilton Harris, truly designed what he described as “a clearing in the forest,” all completed with a dominant burning chalice guiding attendees to the peace within the space.
Led by Senior Minister, Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter, today’s service was one honoring the church’s “UU of the Year” for service and deeds completed within the church community (and in the greater Dallas community at-large), followed by a sermon titled, “Too Christian, Not Christian Enough.” Dr. Kanter well expressed the historical ties to Unitarianism, but also to those that led to the path of his suggested true labeling as a “Free Church.” One that is neither too Christian, nor Christian enough, in that so it is perfectly balanced without confines to secular and non-secular labeling alike. A place where Christians and Atheists commingle in celebration of diversity and compassion. A place where all whom support and commit to the seven UU Principles can live, learn, and love without judgment or inequity.
Stirring the passion was music provided by “emma’s revolution,” a fun and modernly folksy duo of Sandy O. and Pat Humphries. Austin and I both especially loved their song, “Peace, Salaam, Shalom,” written in response to reactions to the attacks on 9/11.
If you live in the Dallas area and would like to attend First Unitarian, you can find information about their services and events at www.dallasuu.org. Be sure to take time to explore the campus and have coffee with the UUs attending there. They will be glad to welcome you!
From the First Unitarian website, “As the largest liberal religious congregation in Dallas and one of the largest Unitarian Universalist congregations in the country, our history lives on today. We remain a progressive oasis in Dallas; a harbor for lost and wandering people without a compass for their religious natures; a place to read, discuss and move against tyrannies of the mind, heart and body; a treasure of wisdom and strength for our children; a community within which to weather the difficult times and celebrate the joyous times of life; and a voice of reason and challenge in an increasingly conservative religious landscape.”