Why I go to church (this week)

by eringoodman on March 9, 2014

in essays+reflections

This morning I attended my beloved Unitarian Universalist church.

This may not seem significant, or blog-worthy, except that it’s been well over a year since I have attended Sunday services and so today I found myself reflecting on what I love about being part of a UU church community.

I love the energy of gathering.

Today, despite “losing an hour” of sleep, I arrived early and sat in the center of the gathering energy — the welcoming committee at the door greeting each arrival, the choir rehearsing one last time before service starts, friends hugging and catching up. It’s such a beautiful energy of excitement and anticipation.

I love the ritual.

Our church service begins with the sounding of a singing bowl. I love that the bustle of gathering instantly quiets as the bowl is sounded, the energy of gathering giving way to the energy of settling and being present. Without words, information is conveyed that it is now time to begin our worship service.

I love the community.

Announcements at the beginning of service, flyers hanging on the bulletin board in the community room. I love the people and their interests and all of the magical events and gatherings that spin out of this vibrant community.

I love the choir.

Whether I’m singing in the choir or sitting back in the audience, tapping my toes and taking in the beautiful music, I love how the presence of a choir elevates the mood and invites sacred transcendence into the room.

I love the religious education program.

I love that the RE program is a place for children and youth to be seen and celebrated for who they are and that they are exposed to the world’s major religions and spiritual thinkers while being encouraged to follow their own path.

I love that all are welcome.

I love being part of a UU church where all are welcome. I love the huge rainbow flag that hangs by the front door and all it represents as well as the fact that everyone who gathers together is encouraged to follow (and share about) his or her own personal spiritual path.

I love coming home.

People often refer to our church community as family and for me the experience is much the same. I love that our church is a place of eternal welcome, where I can slide away for a few weeks (or several months) and always be welcomed back with open arms and a warm embrace.

* * *

All of this is true, my friends. And yet, I still wander and go for long stretches without attending services.

Why?

Because sometimes I don’t feel like going to church. Sometimes I’d rather take a hike or attend a yoga class or snuggle up on the couch with my children. Sometimes life gets crazy and getting to church becomes one more thing that has to be done, one more day that an alarm must be set, and I find other ways to nurture my spirituality.

I find ritual in making a pot of tea and transcendence in the way the light hits the floor and community in a Sunday afternoon potluck.

For me the important thing is not how I nurture my spirituality (and that of my children) but that I do make space to nurture our spirituality — at home, in nature, or with our church community.

How about you, my friends? Do you go to church (temple or synagogue) regularly, occasionally or not at all? How is this working for you and your family? Please share and inspire us with your words.

 

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My take on the LEGO movie

by eringoodman on February 9, 2014

in essays+reflections, mixed media

 

On Friday night, with our obligatory $5 bag of popcorn in hand, we settled into the back row of the theater, which my seven-year-old thinks are the very best seats.

We were there — along with the rest of the packed theater — to see the LEGO Movie.

Prior to going, I had watched the trailer and had heard from my son how very awesome the movie was going to be. I was excited to be there with him on opening night and had an  open mind about the movie, which I’ll admit would not be one I would see if it weren’t for the gentle prodding of my son for weeks leading up to the release.

Over the years, my beloved son has helped me to stretch out of my comfort zone with his love for video games and all things “shooting.” A couple of weeks ago, while visiting Dave and Buster’s, I even joined him for a few rounds of a zombie shooting game, which previously I would have not allowed.

(We started with a “no shooting games” rule, which was later adapted to “no shooting humans” so a game that involves shooting ghost-like skeletons or animated robots is now on the approved list.)

Remaining conscious of the impact of violence, even animated violence, while at the same time respecting our son and his interest in being part of pop culture is a fine line – one that we are walking with great care.

And so there we were, on opening night, at the LEGO  Movie and when the theater darkened and the no cell phones reminders came on, the excitement was palpable.

Everything was great. The movie was hilarious and the children’s laughter in the theater was a balm to the soul. And then about 15 minutes in, the “bad guy” entered and things got a little, shall we say, intense.

I am a Highly Sensitive Person and I realize that I experience on screen violence in a way that is more intense than the average person, but still the basic story line of the movie is Armageddon in LEGO land.

It was animated. It was LEGOs. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder why the movie had to be so violent.

Are we not yet making the connection between the diet of increasingly violent images that we are feeding our children and our distraught over the increase of violent actions taken by teenagers and young adults?

* * *

So what was my son’s take on the violence in the movie?

The next morning, I initiated a conversation about it to see how he had been affected by the hundreds of explosions  and all the shooting throughout the movie.

Me:

“I was a little surprised by how violent the movie was. There was a lot of  ‘blowing up’ that happened. What did you think of that?”

His response:

“Seriously, mama? It’s LEGOs. If you blow them up you just put them back together again. No big deal.”

The truth — as it often does — probably lies somewhere in the middle of “no big deal” and “way too violent” and each family will have to make a decision that is right for them, but I do think this is a conversation worth having.

Your turn. Did you see the LEGO movie this weekend? What do you think?


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Nice to meet you

by eringoodman on January 30, 2014

in essays+reflections

My kids and me, circa 2007.

* * * * *

When my kids were small, I used to play a game with them called “Nice to meet you.”

It was a way to help them get dressed, where I would reach into the sleeve of their shirt and find their hand and pull it through. As I did, I would shake it and say “Nice to meet you,” which always made them smile and heartily shake my hand right back.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about meeting new people and getting to know them.

(About a month ago, I started a new part-time job at a bakery-cafe where I am meeting LOTS of new people every day.)

There are different stages to getting to know someone, starting on the surface level, and eventually moving deeper. (I personally, like the moving deeper part, don’t you?)

So, if you were getting to know me (as a friend, or in preparation to work together), here are some of the things you would probably learn about me fairly quickly.

In no particular order, these are some of the things I believe in:

1. Love, in all its glorious forms

2. The power of a nice, deep breath

3. Shopping at small  businesses

4. Respecting (and listening to) our elders

5. Recycling, composting and raising chickens

6. Finding spirituality wherever it finds me (which is often, while looking through my camera lens)

7. Pasture-based farming

8. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

9. The power of intention

10. The goodness of Energy Nuggets (minus the wheat bran, now that I’m gluten-free)

11. The importance of community

12. Long walks on the beach

13. Savoring the perfect moments

 

How about you? As I got to know you, what would I learn?

What are the things you believe in?

 

 

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{ this moment } living room wedding

by eringoodman on January 24, 2014

in love + marriage, this moment

As the holiday dust settles, I’m wanting to make more of an effort to swing by this space on a more regular basis. I thought I’d begin today by joining Amanda with an image from the week that I want to savor and remember. This one is from a home wedding that I performed last weekend. (Isn’t it cozy?)

Happy Weekend, friends.

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What’s your background?

by eringoodman on January 12, 2014

in living our dreams, love + marriage

Me and my table at the South County Bridal Show at the Narragansett Towers.

* * * * *

I had the pleasure of exhibiting at my first Bridal Show today.

It was a beautiful day sponsored by South County Tourism, during which I met many lovely brides and grooms and enjoyed getting to know my fellow vendors.

But there is one conversation that really stuck with me.

I was speaking with a mother of the bride, telling her a little bit about what I do and some of the ceremonies I’ve performed in the past when she asked me, “What is your background? How did you come to do this work?”

I immediately felt a little twinge in my stomach, like being on a job interview when they ask you to “tell me about yourself.”

I took a breath and proceeded to tell her the abbreviated version of my story and how I became ordained online four years ago and then worked with the lovely Deborah Faith as my mentor before beginning to perform weddings myself.

She listened politely and when I finished, she smiled and said, “That’s all good but what I really want to know is how you in your heart came to do this work? What drew you to it? What do you love about it?”

And then it was my turn to smile as I realized in that moment that she was a kindred spirit.

I proceeded to share my story with her (again).

This time putting less emphasis on training or trying to prove myself worthy of doing the work I do and more on how much I love the work I do. Every bit of it. From the initial meeting with a bride and groom, to the writing of the ceremony, the presentation of the ceremony and the delivery of the marriage license.

I told her about my days teaching yoga and leading retreats and how I love being in front of a group in the role of facilitator. And how the work I do as a wedding officiant is such a natural extension of what I was already doing.

I am truly doing the work I am called to do and each step of the way I have followed my heart and listened to my Soul. I love the work I do and I feel honored each and every day that I get to do it.

And that, my friends, is my background.

(The woman I was speaking with, by the way, was very happy to hear all of this and took my card to share with her daughter.)

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