American Red Cross

Student of the Prophetic Sisterhood

Posted on Updated on

So I am applying to a few seminaries for Fall 2014.  I’m signed up to attend January convocation at Meadville Lombard in Chicago and am planning on visiting the Harvard Divinity campus.  But with so much time before I can even make my final decision, I decided to be proactive by beginning the UUA ministerial required reading list.

Many of the seminarians I’ve already met often post on social media about the difficulty in attending courses, internships, writing papers, and all the while, attempting to read and absorb the rather large collection of writings meant to introduce ministerial candidates to the expansive world of Unitarian Universalism.

Prophetic Sisterhood, TuckerWith a random spattering of documents and books, I’ve chosen as my first reading, a book that touches close to home in my personal journey.  The Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Ministers of the Frontier, 1880-1930 by Cynthia Grant Tucker (Authors Choice Press, 1990.)  The women in the book are independent, strong, and always choosing a path with love, difficulty, and leadership in the face of male dominance.

Always one for the unique path in life, and after competing in a few beauty pageants in high school, I graduated early and joined the Marine Corps at the age of seventeen.  I was attending boot camp while my friends were attending prom, and I was at my first duty station during our high school graduation ceremony.  If that wasn’t enough, I served as a C-130 (Cargo) aircraft mechanic and later did a tour in the Army as a heavy wheeled vehicle mechanic, spending all eight years of my tours as the only female in my workspaces.  I followed these with now twenty-plus years in the social work field, working for the American Red Cross in multiple countries and volunteering for many other groups.

Now, much older and wiser from my veering paths in life (I say as I laugh half-heartedly!)  I find my faith and family as the touchstones to my life–now merging my social work past, my love of literature (theology is strongly interpretation of the written word, is it not?) and my humble beginnings as a religious lay leader to my fellow recruits while in boot camp.

My path has lost its twists and turns and is now a single road before me.  Dusty, rocky, and assuredly over more mountains than I’ve already climbed, but single and chosen by my life’s experiences and my heart’s longings to guide, love, and support my fellow human beings.

So, with the Prophetic Sisterhood, I begin.

Whiskey, Monsters and Peace: General Assembly

Posted on Updated on

In the late 1990s I was attending college in Belgium and volunteering with the American Red Cross overseas by teaching and working in volunteer leadership.  During my stay I was lucky enough to receive a regional award granting me free ferry passage from Calais, France, to Dover, England.  So with nothing more than a small Toyota pickup, a cheap $40 tent, and a cooler full of food in the back, my husband and I headed out with a very small wallet and a big dream of a wonderful new experience.

UUA GA Chalice, Kentucky International Convention Center
UUA GA Chalice, Kentucky International Convention Center

Tent camping our way from the White Cliffs of Dover, to the bustle of London and then north into the heart of a purple hazed heather-covered Scotland, we experienced the countryside as intended.  We weren’t burdened by hotel check-ins or event schedules, we just followed the road, living amongst the scenery rather than viewing it from afar.  We tasted Scotch Whiskey, searched for traces of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, and rambled among the ruins of walls and castles from long ago.

Brave and young, we found ourselves south of Inverness in the beautiful valley of a famous monster.  Chancing at a campground on the shore, we pitched our small tent with only a foot or two of space from the front flap to the drop off that became the cold waters of Loch Ness.  I remember going to sleep that night as the thick fog slowly enveloped the space before us and around us.  So thick was the fog that I dared not even step out in the small spot of land in front of us for fear of slipping into the water that I could no longer see.  In that moment, I looked at my husband and jokingly said, “Well, we’ll know if Nessie is real if we wake in the morning alive and not eaten.”  While we shared a laugh and settled in, I felt a deep peace as we floated amongst the fog and clouds of an endless sky and land.

This peace returned to me at General Assembly in the fleeting of a thought.  I stood amongst Unitarians at a precipice—a place where only things begin and never do they end.  In a moment and at a place where Rev. Dr. Peter Morales, UUA President, spoke of the Spirit of Life and Love that we hold true as the catalyst in our personal lives and in our religious practices.

My hope is that at some point in our lives, and our earth’s future, we will all find that Peace.

Peace within.  Peace amongst.  Peace be with you.