Beauty and Function

As I chatted with my parents the other night, listening to them talk about the sub-zero

Look at this butterfly I chased down in the orchard!

Look at this butterfly I chased down in the orchard!

temperatures and piles of snow, I stared out across the orchards around my house.  I shared with them how magical the blooming orchards were but a different kind of beauty than the Upstate New York woods I played in growing up.  Unlike the wildness of those

woods, these orchards were ordered and functional– human created and ordered, spaced to allow agricultural machines to harvest the nuts.   There is something in that tension of the magical beauty and the functional precision of the orchards.  And when the machines come shaking and sweeping through in August, I won’t be waxing so poetic about the orchards then.  I think churches are like orchards– beautiful and yet (hopefully!) functional.

That's my house in the distance!

That’s my house in the distance!

I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday: Giving Up, Giving In, Giving Over.
How can we UUs could engage with the Christian community’s spiritual practice of Lent– what does it mean to promise to give something up? To give ourselves over?

Blossom and Nut

Not that I ever considered myself a farm girl but I made that abundantly clear this week as I

blossom AND nut

blossom AND nut

shared about the great time I was having walking through the almond orchards around my house.  The blossoms are so beautiful! The orchards feel so magical and wondrous to me–in the early morning fog, in the late afternoon sunlight.  As I talked about the almond blossoms, I then said “And I had my first almond of the season! I picked it off and cracked it open with a hammer!” (I don’t have a nutcracker).  The committee members looked at me strangely.  “You ate an almond? They are poisonous when they are this young!”

“Not this one” I said, “it was fully formed! Maybe an early variety or something?”

After confirming that what I ate was a fully formed, tasty almond, the committee determined that I must have found some husks leftover from last season. Blossoms in the morning, a fully formed nut by the afternoon!  Boy, did I feel silly.

Like these almond trees, we humans are not all fully developed and formed–some parts of us are more mature, other parts green and budding.  Some parts of us are in hibernation.  A healthy tree can hold onto the nut and the blossom. And so may we!

I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday– we will be welcoming and hearing from our newest members –honoring what membership in our UU congregation means to us all.

Benny enjoying the blossoms

Benny enjoying the blossoms


I do not think “blossomings” is technically a word, but one of the joys of being a minister is WP_20150212_005using the authority of poetic license.  This photo comes from a Walgreen’s parking lot in Ceres–I was driving by and saw these beautiful trees. (I know they are not almond trees, I have been here long enough to know what an almond tree looks like!)  So I pulled over, jumped out of my car,  and meandered through the trees taking photos while people pulling out of the drive-thru pharmacy gave me strange looks.

It was good to be away last week, by the ocean, with colleagues and friends at the UU minister’s conference.  And it is good to be home.  I have heard so much about the almond blossoms–finally, I get to experience them myself! Almond blossoms and whatever those tree blossoms were next to the Walgreen’s in Ceres.

Amidst our mundane and usual, remember to act strange and put your nose up close to blossomings, even in the middle of a Walgreen’s’ parking lot.

I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday morning: “What Love Got to Do With It?”


Not Alone, Not Alone, Not Alone


UU Ministers Worshipping

I am writing to you from  Pacific Grove, California and the Asilomar Conference Center, where I have gathered with 500 other UU ministers from around the country. We are worshipping, eating, and learning together.

One of the things I love about honest conversations with colleagues is how I get reminded, over and over and over again, how I am not alone–that I am not even

Rev. Jacqui Lewis preaching to UU Ministers

Rev. Jacqui Lewis preaching to UU Ministers

unique.  My insecurities and concerns about finding enough time for creating and planning good, moving, transformative worship?  Yup my colleagues share them.  Wrestling with UU’s value of individualism vs the needs of a healthy community?  Yup, they are struggling with that too.  Sharing about difficulties we have balancing being ‘chief of staff’ and ‘pastor’?  Uh huh we all say.   We are not alone.  I am not alone.  You are not alone.

What is weighing your heart down? Who can you share that with, who will be with you so you can be reminded that YOU are not alone?

This upcoming Sunday, I will be out of the pulpit and Worship Associate Sharon A.

The big picture: aerial photo of Asilomar conference center

The big picture: aerial photo of Asilomar conference center

will be leading worship: “Honoring and Serving Those with Dementia and Their Loved Ones.”  So many us are or will be caring for fragile loved ones.  Members Jim S, Doreen S., and Bob J. will share some of their experiences, so that we may find some strength, hope, and wisdom to continue expanding how we love.

Courageous Love

There are two phrases that stick out in my mind from our incredible Installation Worship. 10945781_1133573016659291_1077377645430742129_nFirst, Rev. Kathy Huff telling us that the meaning of life is to realize this: “You Are Not Alone.”  Second, Rev. John Buehren’s in his charge to the congregation: “The church does not belong to the minister. It does not even belong to the members.  It belongs to the mission.”

In looking through the photos, I chose these photos of the food.  A colleague once told me that you can tell a lot about a congregation through food.  And what a story we told at the Installation! Under the leadership of Sarah B and Doreen S, we coordinated an incredible and beautiful buffet of food provided by the members of the congregation.  This congregation labors, this congregation loves.

10351611_1133572823325977_4644744343405545549_nSo, with all of our powerful labor and love, what is next for us? What do we do with our courageous love?

One next step: I will be joining a group of UUFSC members this weekend for Beloved Conversations- Meditations on Race and Ethnicity at our sibling UU congregation in Fresno, led by Rev. Dr. Mark Hicks, creator of the program.  You can learn more about Beloved Conversations here:

And I hope to worship with many of you this Sunday, exploring one aspect of UU Courageous Love: reproductive justice!

P.S. I will be out of the church office all next week, attending a National UU Minister’s Professional Development Conference in Pacific Grove, CA.  For pastoral emergencies, please call my cell!

Making Our Way Through the Fog

fogWow, I had no idea what fog could be like until this past week!  So much of the time, I could only see 50 or 100 feet in front of me…driving was so slow.

And yet, even though I had to slow down and keep my eyes fixed to the pavement markings to make sure I kept myself on the road, I still kept moving.

It has been a hard week, I must admit– foggy and slow as I worked with our congregational leadership to make some difficult personnel related decisions (please check your email for a special message from me regarding these decisions).  “Leadership is dangerous”  says Harvard Professor and leadership guru Ronald Heifetz.  Yup- and so is driving int the fog!  The spiritual path is not easy but man, it is worthwhile.  We just gotta keep moving, slowly and surely.

I know Adlai and Matthew have spent a lot of time preparing worship for you all this week– it will be my Sunday off, as I spiritually prepare myself for the upcoming Installation Festivities…And yes, that includes cleaning my apartment because my parents are coming into town!

Highly successful changes are not about change at all…..


2015 Morning at the Peach Orchard

As we begin 2015, amidst all the talk of new beginnings, a new year…as we approach our Installation Worship service, honoring the beginning of a new chapter in UUFSC’s ministry, I find myself mulling over the following quote by Harvard professor and leadership guru Ronald Heifetz in a presentation he did (you can watch the whole thing here)

I know frequently when we talk about leadership, we focus on change. But highly successful changes are mostly not about change at all.  They are about identifying what is essential and precious in the values, traditions, shared language and understandings that you want to bring with you into the future.”

Newness is not about discarding the old–it’s about identifying what is essential and precious.  I love that phrase: ‘essential and precious.’  To whatever we deem essential and precious, let us hold tight!

What is essential and precious from you life and past? And where is there opportunity to embrace something new or different that better fulfills what you consider essential and precious?