Weaving the Web – Rev. Amy Zucker-Morgenstern

  • Weaving the Web: Together, apart, together March 27, 2020

    Pat LandmanHerriot, a member of our choir, shared this offering from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra this morning, and I’m passing it along to you in hopes that it will mean as much to you as it does to me.

    Ode to Joy

    It’s not just the music that moves me. It’s seeing each person playing, alone in a room, unable even to hear the others in real time as they play. (Due to the lag time of the internet, a sound engineer had to put them all together later.) These are people whose lives are about making music with others, and now they are so isolated. Like many of us, they are cut off from what they love to do, and the face-to-face, side-by-side togetherness that normally sustains them.

    This is orchestral music (and with a full choir, also added digitally); you can’t create the Ode to Joy all alone in your apartment. How incredibly frustrating for a professional musician. Yet the joy is there–you can see it in their playing. And then they send it out to us.

    No wonder they are joyful. They have found a way to follow their calling, even in their loneliness and frustration, and make music with other people, for other people.

    My favorite part of ministry is being right in the same room with you, hearing your ideas and feelings and what’s happening in your life. Meeting via video conference or phone is in a distant second place. But it is far, far better than not being with you at all. These orchestra members remind me that, even though we each may feel alone in our rooms, the music of our lives is still interwoven. We just need to put it all together now and then, so that we don’t forget. So please join me, join Dan, join each other, for gatherings throughout the week.

  • Weaving the Web: Lessons from The Tonight Show March 21, 2020

    Dear UUCPA folks,

    I am loving Jimmy Fallon for his “home edition” of The Tonight Show, proving that the production values that really matter are presence, humor, honesty, and integrity. Our production tomorrow won’t be extremely polished (though more polished than his!), but I can guarantee you it will have:

    • beautiful music from Veronika, Bruce, and your own voice
    • the light of the chalice and the sound of the bell
    • the loving care of each other as we share our joys and sorrows
    • a sermon from the heart about big questions
    • and at 11, a surprise, coronavirus-free appearance by the UUCPA Adult Choir!

    Sadly, Lin-Manuel Miranda had a prior commitment.

    See you tomorrow! Invite your friends!

    9:30 am Service: join via Zoom: zoom.us/j/297701692
    11:00 am Service: join via Zoom: zoom.us/j/928937400
    Find out more about how to access the service online


  • Weaving the Web December 29, 2019

    I’m so excited. A small and mighty group of UUCPA members – Kristi Iverson, Anne Frahn, and Elsa Schafer – has put together a January packed full of voter empowerment events. This project is nonpartisan, as our political actions should be, and it’s an initiative that everyone can support, wherever they are on the political spectrum: to aid and encourage everyone eligible to vote to register, and to enable everyone who is registered to cast their vote. The more voters there are participating in the political process, the better our elected officials will reflect the people’s choice.

    Among the Unitarian Universalist Association’s seven principles is “the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.” It’s not frequently quoted, nor, probably, remembered, but like voting itself, it’s as plain and essential as a building’s foundation. Without it, our other dreams are likely to die young.

    I hope to see you at one or more of these events!

    Speaking of seeing me, I know that most of what I do is not as visible as Sunday services, so I’m going to start using this column to talk about more of those aspects of our ministry. (I report in detail to the Board each month; I’ll post these reports in our Google docs from now on so that anyone with an interest can see them.) Here’s a sampling from November and December:

    • Led two sessions of “Exploring Mind, Hands, Spirit & Heart through Art.”
    • Enjoyed the UUCPA Auction.
    • Led “Care and Nurture of Your Small Group.”
    • Led initial session of “White Folks Dismantling White Supremacy” group.
    • Got together with a bereaved family to plan a memorial service.
    • Met weekly with staff in various configurations and with the Stewardship Committee.
    • Had a long getting-acquainted conversation with local rabbi Amy Eilberg.
    • Met with two new UU ministers for whom I’m a formal mentor.
    • Led two meetings as chair of the Nominating Committee of the continental UU Ministers’ Association.
    • Had numerous one on one meetings with UUCPA folks to provide pastoral care about personal issues or consultation on their volunteer roles.

    Of course, what I do is just a small fraction of everything that goes on in our thriving congregation, but I hope these mini-lists give you a fuller picture of the congregational life as a whole.

    And finally, I really enjoy getting together one on one, so if you’d like to talk, use the Calendly link that’s on the bottom of my email and the back of the order of service to pick a time. I always make sure to keep available a few evening hours each month, and if none of the ones posted work for you, please send me your preference via email, and I’ll coordinate with your schedule. If you prefer not to travel to UUCPA after a workday, I’m also happy to meet via Zoom or Skype. —Blessings, Amy

    — Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

  • Midweek meditation: From fear to fulfillment October 11, 2019

    Midweek meditation: from fear to fulfillment

    Thanks to the creativity and drive of UUCPA member Randy Helmonds, we will be hosting the Blood Donation Olympics on Saturday, October 26. I want to share my story with you.

    In my family, donating blood has always been one of those no-brainer acts of mercy, like giving clothes we  didn’t wear anymore to a younger relative or a clothes closet instead of throwing them in the trash. That pint of blood costs the donor nothing but the mildest of pain and a couple of hours (including the time spent getting to and from the center and eating the re-energizing snack of cookies and juice), whereas for the recipient, it makes the difference between death and life. My parents often helped run a blood drive at our synagogue, and my father donated regularly.

    To this background was added a personal reason to give. In 1995, my dad was badly injured and barely survived. In the course of his recovery, he received about 40 units of blood. I was acutely aware that blood donors were why my dad was still in my life. Ever since then, I wanted to pay it forward. I hear from blood center staff that this kind of experience is a common motivation for donors.

    There was just one problem: I was scared of needles. I managed vaccinations because they were necessary, and could endure blood tests for the same reason, but I felt pretty shaky about voluntarily offering up my arm. When I told a nurse about my ambivalence, she assured me that staff like her would really rather not deal with people who are queasy about the whole thing. However, some years after that I brought the subject up with another nurse, our own Phyllis Cassel (blessed be her memory), who had worked in blood centers. She urged me to give it a try–the staff there were used to dealing with nervous patients, and maybe I’d find out it wasn’t so hard after all. Not long after that conversation, I embarked on the path to parenthood, and over the course of my pregnancy I had to have so many blood tests that I started taking them in stride. Hm, maybe she was right. If I could deal with that, why not try donating?

    So once our child was born and I was eligible to give, I donated for the first time, and my hope was borne out: it wasn’t any tougher than a blood test. And I felt fantastic! I bounced out of there, absurdly pleased with the little bruise on my arm.

    Ever since then, it has become a regular practice. It took some determination and patience on the staff’s part, as well as my own, to get into that rhythm, but now it’s something I do every eight weeks. It’s good for me, too; as a vegetarian with an uneven iron intake, being a blood donor has gotten me on a regular schedule of taking iron supplements so my hemoglobin count will be nice and high. It also encourages me to drink plenty of water. But the real benefits are spiritual. I feel connected to my community–the wonderful staff who help donors help others, and the unknown people who will benefit. A circle that opened up the day my dad was hurt is made complete. I’m amazed by the resilience of the body. All of this means that I leave the donation center one pint down, but filled up with a sense of well-being.

    If you’ve been struggling the way I did for many years, this could be the chance for you to move from fear to fulfillment by becoming a donor right here in our Main Hall, in a community that supports you. Or if you can’t donate blood for whatever reason, please consider helping with a financial donation or by promoting the event to your friends.

    And a final hint for those entering the Olympics: the more water you drink in the couple of days beforehand, the quicker donating will go.



  • Weaving the Web: What I did on my summer vacation  August 10, 2019

    — Rev Amy Zucker Morgenstern

    Near the end of June, a year into the new “zero tolerance” policy of deterring immigration by separating families and locking up children, I learned that July 12 would be a day of nationwide protest (“Lights for Liberty”): against the camps in particular and for humane immigration and asylum policies in general. My family and I were getting ready to go to Mexico for three weeks, and that’s where we would be while our kindred-citizens were rallying outside detention centers and ICE facilities, at Congressional offices and on town greens.

    I had been aching for an organized response, something I could do beyond giving money and calling officials. There was no way I was going to miss this. So I announced to the U.S. Americans living in or visiting Oaxaca, and to the Lights for Liberty organizers, that there would be a demonstration in Oaxaca that day. The U.S. consulate was closed on Fridays, but we’d protest on the street outside.

    I admit, I didn’t want to spend a lot of my vacation time organizing a political protest. But we already had an ¡Engage Oaxaca! group — we had helped organize it immediately after the 2016 election, in the last weeks of my sabbatical there — and that was a good base from which to reach out to people. Friends helped: I asked for corrections of my tentative Spanish version of the poster, and got them. The family got into it: Indigo drew a child in a cage for the poster, and then we all put up copies around the city, especially in places U.S. citizens spend a lot of time, like the English library. We bought enough poster board and markers for ourselves, plus extras. Then we crossed our fingers and hoped there would be a good turnout.

    There was! Forty U.S. citizens showed up, many with signs of their own, in Spanish and English. Lots of Oaxacans gathered around to watch, ask questions, help out by taking group photos, and, apparently, alert the press, because several newspaper and TV journalists arrived half an hour later. When, at the end of the hour, we told the reporters that we’d be going inside to slip our signs under the consulate doors, they ran ahead up the stairs to get good photos, and stayed to interview us some more.

    I’m glad we reserved plenty of time for visiting friends, taking art classes, wandering the markets, eating at our favorite places, and all the other things we love in Oaxaca. But far from regretting the time spent on the protest, we all felt buoyed by it. Our little protest was a drop in the bucket, but that day we knew that there is a bucket, and that we can help it to fill up and overflow.

    You can watch one interview with us at tinyurl.com/oaxacainterview.

    Blessings, —Amy