Uplift Access: Uplifting Accessibility In and Beyond Unitarian Universalism

Holiday Blues

A UU chalice made of bronze metal with large rings and a small white lighted candle in the center. Next to the chalice is a large brown bowl filled with sand with twelve thin white lighted candlesticks. Both the chalice and bowl of candles are on a small wooden table in front of a wooden lectern that is partially visible on the altar of the congregation, with a black grand piano.

By Gretchen Maune

Dear Friends,

I am writing this after deeply sinking into the Holiday Blues Service, held annually at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, Missouri, which is my church. We hold this evening event because not everyone feels the joyful holiday spirit society seems to deem a requirement this time of year.

Despite the bright, twinkling lights and the chiming bells, some of us are full of grief, fear, and pain. We believe there should be a time to honor these feelings as well. As a person who has lived with chronic, clinical depression for most of their life, I greatly value this service and the space it provides me to let my heavy heart rest freely in our church’s sanctuary, feeling wholly accepted for all that I bring with me.

This year, I needed the service more than ever, as I am still deeply grieving the loss of my dear friend, and fellow UU, Qhyrrae Michaelieu, who worked with me for many years on our Disability Justice and Inclusion Team, always making sure we didn’t forget to uplift depression, anxiety, and other invisible disabilities. Authenticity was one of her greatest values, and I felt like I was safe at home when I was with her. I learned so many things from her, but the one that’s settled in my heart as of late is that I don’t need to hide my tears.

Wishing you spaces of comfort this holiday season,

Watching My Friend Pretend Her Heart Is Not Breaking

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star
would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons
equals the collective weight of every animal
on earth. Including the insects. Times three.

Six billion tons sounds impossible
until I consider how it is to swallow grief—
just a teaspoon and one might as well have consumed
a neutron star. How dense it is,
how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.
How difficult it is to move then.
How impossible to believe that anything
could lift that weight.

There are many reasons to treat each other
with great tenderness. One is
the sheer miracle that we are here together
on a planet surrounded by dying stars.
One is that we cannot see what
anyone else has swallowed.

International Day of People With Disabilities

According to the United Nations, the world population is over 8 billion people and more than one billion people, or approximately 15% of the world's population, live with some form of disability; 80% live in developing countries.

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.*

Facts & Figures

  • 8 billion people: world population
  • Over 1 billion people in the world have some form of disability.
  • More than 100 million disabled persons are children
  • Children with disabilities are almost four times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled children
  • 50% of disabled persons cannot afford health care
  • 185 countries have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • 7 targets of theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs) explicitly refer to persons with disabilities.

As Unitarian Universalists who believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we honor the human rights of disabled people around the world and commit to combatting ableism in all its forms. We join the United Nations to uplift the voices of the most marginalized through a disability justice lens on this sacred day and every day.

*United Nations: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Accessible Publications from Skinner House


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Accessible versions of Skinner House's most recent publications, and all new ones going forward will be available to Bookshare subscribers.

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About the Author

Gretchen Maune

As Accessiblity Resources Coordinator, Gretchen will provide virtual resources for Unitarian Universalist congregational and organizational leaders to create spaces, events, programs and communities which are accessible and inclusive to disabled participants.

For more information contact .