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Leslie’s Logos – July 2019

As we enter into the summer, the need for restoring our spirits is clear. Three practices which I hope to engage in this summer are gratitude, contact with the natural world and silly fun.
An odd paradox is that hard times make the bright spots of gratitude stand out in sharper relief and I am as full of gratitude as I have ever been even though the year just past had much who do those small acts of service and kindness that matter is renewing. Our carnation ritual in June has inspired me to continue and I invite you to participate as well.
I could cite a lot of data however I don’t think I need to explain the healing power of nature in this era when so many of us suffer from nature deficit disorder. If you can do nothing else, I invite you to experience the healing beauty of the Chapel Grove of redwoods
And silly fun has come back on my radar screen as well. For a few years when my daughter was young, we used to have a Friday fun night—doing something crafty or casually artsy or just plain absurd. Crafts or goofy explorations or bubbles. The release that can come from not taking ourselves too serious seems particularly valuable in this time!
So may the summer bring some changes of pace. Though I will be in and out this summer, I plan to make the most of my freer moments.
With joy in the journey,
Leslie

Of hummingbirds, gifts and gratitude

This is the time of the year when I am tired. So gratitude becomes especially important!

Last week I was running late getting to the office because I had taken an unexpected call and I was in a hurry to get to the office. On my way to the car, I remembered that this was going to be one of the hot days and I thought it best not to forgo watering my succulents in anticipation of one of our very hot days when a hummingbird flew into the hose stream. As I watered, the pair of birds flew in and out, spraying the water as they entered and left, entered and left quenching their thirst. The water magnified their colors and it was quite the site to see them in their splendor—a gift that was given again and again as they danced with the drops.

This moment was possible because I was running late, something which had caused me stress and concern a moment before. The hummingbirds aren’t interested in getting wet at the unsacred hour in which I often water. And the sun is not at the angle where I would have seen the dance of water on their backs. So all of this was made possible because of—or at best in spite of—contingencies.

This week coming home, I found the gift of this drawing on the chalkboard door of my pantry. Over the years, this has been a place for the more talented among us to leave artistic gifts—I am not one of them and yet we are privileged that so many in our family circle are. I repainted this as a whiteboard in the winter and it has been decidedly unadorned—so much so that I filled the top of it with crude multicolored stars in the spring. That plus a list of all the tricks and cue words for each dog was all the art we have had. Until Wednesday.. This pretty image greeted me after a long day when I was coming home and tired and it brightened my evening. Unexpected, it was also a gift.

This Sunday we will take a little time to reflect on gratitude and those who make it possible. For me, this has been a week of many gifts—for what are you grateful?

Raising a flag

I took a little time from the busy preparations for our Flower Communion and the congregation’s annual meeting to go to the first ever raising of the rainbow flag as part of the LBGTQ Pride Month. This was the first time that the city of Walnut Creek had participated and it was good to see the enthusiastic crowd who gathered to be part of this small, positive moment in history.

Ken Richards, a long time community activist who has collaborated with our congregation on many issues affecting the LBGTQ community and who also organizes the demonstrations around child separation spoke to the crowd without a microphone and yet his words rang out loud and clear. In this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the events at Stonewall, he spoke about the hope that is given by the raising of this flag.

I was glad to be among the handful of MDUUC members free to be witnesses at this event and to see people with whom we have grieved, celebrated, marched, petitioned and testified over the years.

Small moments of affirmation for the beauty of each person are as important as large moments of disrespect and loss. The sight of that bright, still-wrinkled-from-the-box flag furling and unfurling gave a moment of happiness. When you drive down Main Street in Walnut Creek this month, take a moment to look at that rainbow of hope and be glad.

Leslie’s Logos – June 2019

Gratitude is one of the things that I am ending this year within my heart. The gratitude has other companions there, including joy at all that this community has accomplished this year and sorrow at the divisions that remain among us as we end this year.

The gratitude is there, gratitude for all the people who give so much to make this place what it is. Many continue to serve even though they didn’t like everything that was happening in the community. So many people give so much to make the community that we create together happen.\

I am also grateful for those who were willing to take the risks of truth-telling and of learning this year. So many of us were raised in cultures that equate conflict with danger so this is no small gift and I’m very grateful for those who are willing to give it. Each person who is taking the time to tell their truth, especially as an actual exploration of their feelings and concerns have allowed me a window into perspectives I otherwise would have no way of knowing. And those perspectives have changed my work and ministry this year.

I am grateful for those who were willing to engage in the difficult work of looking at what is and after learning that these times require reading and learning.
I know that I am taking on and wrestling with new ideas at a faster pace than I ever have before because that is what it seems these times require. I don’t always find it fun, in fact, this year it’s felt as if I rarely do but I know it is part of the commitments that we make to one another.

So grateful to all of you who have given, who have spoken the truth of how you are feeling in these times as an invitation to conversation and to have trusted to step into that faithful journey who is next destination may be just out of sight around the next corner.

In faith, Leslie
Rev. Leslie Takahashi serves as the Lead Minister of the Congregation. She can be reached at leslie@mduuc.net.

Friday, May 17, 2019

This week I share some meditative thoughts from this week’s vespers service:

Renewal is a journey taken breath by breath, moment by moment and again and again. Tonight may gratitude guide our inhalations and our exhalations as we breath ourself into new spaces of acceptance and healing. Breath by breath we connect with our hearts. Breath by breath we recall our aspirations and breathe ourselves into that first beginning. Breath by breath we reclaim the truth of our bodies and allow ourselves to be touched by the world around us. Breath by breath. Moment by moment.

Breath by breath, moment by moment, I remember that I renew my life with the dawning of every day. Breath by breath, moment by moment, I affirm the new chances for connection from those I love. Breath by breath, moment by moment, I remember that together we are more. Breath by breath, moment by moment, I remember that to be renewed is to be recalled to the wholeness that is our birthright.

Breath by breath

What relationships do I need to renew?

What connections do I need to deepen?

What aspirations do I need to reimagine?

Breath by breath, I commit to renewing my spirit.

Breath by breath, I envision myself renewing my body.

Breath by breath, I see myself opening my mind to that larger imagination which is the source of renewal.

With each breath, I am grateful for the opportunities for renewal.

With each breath, I am resolved to be renewed.

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