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Braver/Wiser Archive
Braver/Wiser Archive
Worship
  • Playlists of the Spirit

    “Doe, a deer, a female deer…” Many of us instantly recognize that as the first line of the song “Do, Re, Mi” from “The Sound of Music.” You might even be able to picture Julie Andrews (oops: Maria) telling the Von Trapp children that these notes are the “tools we use to build a...
    By Connie Simon | 5/23/2018
  • Building a Common Life

    Last fall, our weekly small-town newspaper had two stories I loved. One was a thank you note from the Animal Control Officer to several residents for rescuing a herd of five ponies and one goat. Apparently the goat figured out how to unlock the barn gate and liberated everyone...
    By Elea Kemler | 5/16/2018
  • The Story of My Birth

    When my eldest child was three, they* had almost no control over their emotions, and those emotions were fueled by anything from hunger to noise to too much fun. One day near the end of a holiday break spent in Michigan with family, they started sobbing over getting the wrong...
    By Mandie McGlynn | 5/9/2018
  • Blue Sky Returning

    Before I moved to Michigan, friends warned me about the long months of overcast skies. I’d lived in climates where winter came with snow and freezing temperatures, but also included plenty of sunshine and that sharp cobalt reserved for particularly cold days. Here, though, the...
    By Lindasusan Ulrich | 4/25/2018
  • The Strength That Defines Us

    My son was five when he announced that he would no longer cut his hair. He hated going through the whole process. He also liked his hair and was done. I agreed; I, too, was done fighting with him about haircuts. As time went on, I marveled at the beauty of his hair and the way...
    By Rayla D. Mattson | 4/18/2018
  • Putting the Pieces Together

    I love jigsaw puzzles. I love that moment of satisfaction when you finally find the fourth corner piece, and the smooth feel of the completed puzzle under your hand. But what I love most is seeing the picture emerge. How many times have I stared at the original mess of pieces —...
    By Amanda Poppei | 4/4/2018
  • Kindling the Spirit

    I love watching people. While eating at a local restaurant, though, I saw a parent criticize their child’s artwork because they drew a car in the sky and cars don’t fly. The child was crushed. At the table on the other side of me, two friends were ordering lunch. One, who was...
    By Connie Simon | 3/21/2018
  • Another, Truer Song

    I first visited a children’s psychiatric unit twenty-two years ago. The boy’s mother and I stood facing each other in the hallway by the locked door, not saying a word because there was nothing to say. He was ten years old and seemed not to want to live. He had been putting...
    By Elea Kemler | 2/21/2018
  • No Longer Claiming "Divorced"

    I used to be very conscious of the fact that I was “a single mom” — so self-conscious, in fact, that I would add that I was “a divorced mother,” as if this extra piece of information somehow made things better; as if people would judge me less if they knew that I did, in fact,...
    By Rayla D. Mattson | 2/14/2018
  • Good Enough

    I call myself a recovering perfectionist. People usually laugh when I say that, not realizing how serious I am. Perfectionism has robbed me of joy and kept me from being present in my life. I remember a chamber ensemble concert in high school, for example, when we played a...
    By Lindasusan Ulrich | 1/31/2018
  • Telling a New Story

    I thought about my first tattoo for a long time, but when a pregnancy test unexpectedly came back positive, my ink research took a new direction. I didn’t cancel my trip to the tattoo parlor; birthing this baby at this moment would harm everyone involved, and I knew that I would...
    By Mandie McGlynn | 1/20/2018
  • Mrs. Cash's Oranges

    I grew up in a three-bedroom, cinderblock ranch style house with a two-car garage and a mess of tiger lilies and saw palmettos in the front yard. There was a lake at the end of the street — one of the few in Central Florida left unspoiled, because its proximity to the railroad...
    By Teresa Honey Youngblood | 1/10/2018
  • Wired for Connection

    It’s a familiar scene each holiday: no matter how meticulously the strings of lights were put away, they always seem to come out a tangled mess. What happens to them all through the year as they wait in their boxes? And so the tradition of untangling the lights begins. We...
    By Erin Powers | 12/13/2017
  • Holding Space for Truth to Bloom

    Content Warning: This reflection refers to the loss of an infant. There is a moment—a moment when all eyes turn to you: the minister, the lawyer, the teacher, the surgeon. It will happen thousands of times in a career. Years in, I surely can’t count how many. But no one...
    By Lisa Bovee-Kemper | 10/25/2017
  • Making Space for Our Doubts

    The Christmas Eve pageant had been beautiful and sweet, but as a stressed out director of religious education, I will admit that the best part about it was that it was over. I sat myself down at the community potluck with my hot cocoa and relaxed for what felt like the first...
    By Becky Brooks | 10/18/2017
  • Pulled by a Fragile Thread

    5:00 a.m. A child is stirring… and up. Now I am, too. We call out to one another in the dark hallway. Call and response, we find one another. She crawls into our bed babbling about a turtle, then requests Cheerios. My phone buzzes with alerts. I pick it...
    By Robin Tanner | 10/4/2017
  • Between Wonder and Fear

    A few years ago, when we’d been married only a short time, my husband asked me what I wanted to do on our trip to Sedona, Arizona. I thought a minute and then asked, “Could we go on a hot air balloon ride?” He made the arrangements. Once in Sedona, we got up at 5:00 a.m., saw...
    By Elizabeth Harding | 9/27/2017
  • "Change" Is a Word on Wheels

    Every Sunday morning, the church choir and I spend time in reflection and silence before we begin the first worship service. I often offer my thoughts on the day's theme or the state of the world, providing context to the message we bring. On a recent Sunday, I said to the...
    By DeReau K. Farrar | 9/12/2017
  • Love Showed Up

    What is your heart doing right now? “Remembering. Remembering!” —from Mary Oliver's "When Did It Happen?," in Felicity Patricia was our hospice patient for three years. She had lung cancer, and by the time I got to know her she had beaten all odds. Patricia was...
    By Elizabeth Harding | 8/23/2017
  • Who We Can Turn To

    Sometimes, being on social media is actually good for my self-care. In the days leading up to the white nationalists marching in Charlottesville, and during the weekend, and since, I have found myself comforted and empowered by being part of a community that stretches beyond...
    By Aisha Ansano | 8/16/2017
  • Grateful to Our Teachers

    I had been at sea for ten days. I’d visited this city before—but not on a Sunday, so I’d never been to the UU congregation there.  On Sunday morning, I walked into the sanctuary where a greeter recognized that I was a visitor and welcomed me with a friendly greeting....
    By Seanan R. Holland | 8/2/2017
  • Nourishing Our Whole Selves

    It had been a long week, and I was so. tired. After being cooped up at work all day, my partner and I decided to take a walk to a local burger place to grab some tasty food that didn’t require much work on our part. As we were getting ready to walk out the door, I realized that...
    By Aisha Ansano | 7/26/2017
  • Love's Pronoun Is Plural

    My son, Caleb, and I went to Starbucks on a recent Saturday morning. We often do this as a prelude to the weekly grocery shopping. It sweetens the deal, which is important, as he is about to be 14 and on the autism spectrum. Both of these factors contribute to his resistance to...
    By Elea Kemler | 7/19/2017
  • Life Tips from a Pottery Wheel

    Over the past couple of years, what started off as a hobby has turned into a true spiritual practice: wheel thrown pottery. I would love to tell you that I picked it up immediately, that I’ve become an expert potter with showcases and gallery openings and… okay, I can’t stop...
    By Tim Atkins | 6/28/2017
  • Do the Next Thing with Love

    By the time Karate class rolled around Monday evening, I was still dazed. The day before — June 12, 2016 — my kids wanted to know why the parents were so sad. I told them I was crying for a really big group of people who had died in the night: fifty people. We got out their...
    By Becky Brooks | 6/14/2017
  • Good Intentions and Incomplete Efforts

    I’ve been doing a lot of guest preaching lately and it’s always a little awkward. I often don’t know how the congregation is used to doing things. Recently I’ve tripped on my robe, forgotten to extinguish the chalice, called someone by the wrong name, and gave the wrong musician...
    By Sean Parker Dennison | 3/29/2017
  • Expect Nothing

    I had finally begun to relax—a bit. We were en route to Pennsylvania. My friend, a formal part of our “framily,” was visiting. We decided a visit to a crayon factory was the perfect winter outing for toddlers. The day was clear and crisp with typical bumper-to-bumper traffic for...
    By Robin Tanner | 3/1/2017
  • Both the Burning and the Light

    About six months ago, I got a new tattoo. It’s a lit match on my right wrist, added to an arm full of paintbrushes, pens and other art supplies. As a minister, my tattoos are sometimes controversial, and I was a little nervous about what people would think about this addition....
    By Sean Parker Dennison | 2/1/2017
  • Love Is the Last Thing to Ration

    When I picked up her call, Kira’s voice was thick with tears. Kira, one of my best friends, is the mother of 4-year old twins, working full-time, and grieving a recent divorce—which means she’s also learning how to be a single parent. "I lost it tonight,” she confessed in a...
    By Erika A. Hewitt | 1/25/2017
  • All Our Relations

    Everyone needs comadres and compadres. What are those? Well, Latinx* people have way more relatives than many other families. Most people attribute this to the fact that many Latinx* are Catholic and therefore frown on contraception, but this is only a partial truth. The rest of...
    By Marisol Caballero | 12/28/2016
  • The Craft of Winter Solstice

    Here we are on the cusp of the Winter Solstice, when the light comes back! To celebrate, I went to the discount store in search of inexpensive picture frames. I felt the urge to use what I have in the way of old photographs and glitter glue for some higher and greater purpose....
    By Daniel Gregoire | 12/21/2016
  • Hold On

    Holding on does not come easy to me. As a teenager who left home and bounced around, I am talented at escaping. I can evade like the best of them. I can avoid people who speak truth that’s packaged in less-than-pretty paper. I can leave when the words are ones I do not like. I...
    By Robin Tanner | 11/16/2016
  • Help Us Never to Forget

    All right voters, it’s election season! We’re down to the remaining candidates, and we are the voters of this country. The question before each of us, perhaps already answered on your early ballot, is How shall I choose? If the power still lies in the hands and the will of...
    By Daniel Gregoire | 11/2/2016
  • An Unlikely Teacher of Love

    He was, I am told, just a dog. But who was it that, fresh from the litter, climbed onto my chest, licked my face, and rubbed his pink baby nose against my cheek? Who chewed the edges of my only antique desk? Who hiked to the top of Multnomah Falls, snug and safe in my...
    By Maureen Killoran | 10/12/2016

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