I’ve spent this week gathered with a small group of UU ministers amidst the coastal redwoods of Sonoma County for an annual study group. Our theme this year was “Spiritual Terroir” because one of the ministers used to be in the wine business and he shared this concept of terroir last year. Terroir is the idea that a food is influenced and flavored by it’s local and unique environmental factors. So what does UUism look like in our individual contexts? How do our local environments impact “the flavor” of our particular UU ministries?
Perhaps more than most, the idea of food and farming resonated strongly with me–I brought a big bag of almonds to the group! We in the Valley have some very particular flavors and challenges that make up how we do UUism. In fact, our Central Valley ‘terroir’ is why the Vatican decided to host it’s US World Meeting of Popular Movements social justice conference here last weekend, stating that they chose Modesto because:
“THE CENTRAL VALLEY OF CALIFORNIA IS A REGION WHICH STARKLY REFLECTS THE ‘ECONOMY OF EXCLUSION’: DEEP POVERTY AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY, LARGE NUMBERS OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS, HIGH RATES OF INCARCERATION, AND CLIMATE CHANGE CREATING ECONOMIC AND HEALTH IMPACTS AMONG THE MOST VULNERABLE.”
Building Beloved Community here is a bold calling and not for the faint of heart. We live far more closely and intimately to the ravages of our global economic system than many of our UU brothers and sisters. If you were to meet another UU, say from San Francisco or Seattle, how would you describe the “terroir” of your Unitarian Universalist spirituality? With what wisdom and unique perspectives does the Valley endow you?