June 20: General Assembly, Banner Parade

General Assembly (GA) is the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists. It is held in different cities around the country and this year, Portland got to host. GA being in my town, I decided to go this year. I avoided the hefty registration fee ($285.00 for early bird, $330.00 normally) by volunteering.

My volunteer position is on the Ambiance Committee. We are in charge of decorations for the meeting rooms, but most importantly, the Banner Parade.

The Banner Parade opens GA. All the attendees gather together in a huge hall and each church designates a person to carry their banner. They all march through the hallway, while music is playing and people are clapping and it is all so dramatic and fun.

Organizing the banner parade was also fun. People were in good moods as the assembled their banners and waited in line for the parade.

The parade was fun as well. All the people marching to the music and waving as they carried their banners. I got to stand inside during the parade so I could see all the multitudes of congregations represented.

After the parade, everyone deposited their banner and the Ambiance Committee got to hang them up. We had a great system, which made hanging simple and used all 18 of the ambiance committee members. It was hard work, though. There were 320 banners which took us 3 hours to hang. I was very sweaty and tired by the end, but it was worth it to look up and see the results of our hard work. And the banners looked beautiful.

June 17: YRUU Beach Trip

The youth in my youth group took a trip to the beach today. Ron, Jimmy and I were there intrepid leaders. We rented a van and drove down to Manzanita where we used Ron’s beach house as a base camp. Despite my constant exclamations of the 80 degree and sunny weather, it was gray and overcast. This did not keep Katie and Colin out the the frigid water.

We played Aw Shucks, walked into town and then roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for s’mores. Just as we were leaving it began to rain.

Oregon beaches. They’re nice if you never want to go in the water.

ps. Until I googled “manzanita” I had no idea that the town was named after a shrub.

June 5: Spirit Week. Crazy Hair Day

Spirit week this week. Today was crazy hair day. I improvised some crazy hair to show my spirit!

It looks somewhat normal from the front

But from the back???? Office supply mayhem.

The best part of crazy hair day was that tonight was Kindergarten Round Up. All of next year’s parents got to see me with crazy hair. Not all of them knew it was crazy hair day. My boss and I were discussing this after the event and I remarked that no one had said anything to me.

“Well some of the asked me!” she said, laughing.

May 26 The not-so-long ride to Washington

My friend Kelly lives in Vancouver which is all the way on the other side of the Columbia River. However, since the move, I live much closer to her. We decided to do a bike ride in the great city of Vancouver.

On the way to the bridge I rode past a long line of trees and sidewalk between Delta Park (the race track) and the Expo Center. This is a long expanse of road and sidewalk where almost no one walks.

As I rode along, I head a bird angerly chirriping at me. Suddenly, to my left, the bird puffed up, stood and attempted to scare me off. I could see she had a nest full of eggs, just sitting out in the open. On the way back, I stopped by and took these pictures.

While the area doesn’t have much foot traffic, I don’t think those eggs were long for this world. Much too much exposed.

I rode over the bridge, on the correct side this time, and through Vancouver. Esther Short Park is quite lovely and there is a huge brick Catholic Church to see too.

Kelly and I had a lovely egg and cheese bake/fruit salad/toast for breakfast and set off on our bikes. We rode through more neighborhood to get to the Discovery Trail which is a lovely urban trail. It was a beautiful day, and there weren’t many people out. We rode for about two hours at a leisurely pace and the sun was so welcome.

It was a good ride back and the next day I was exhausted. But pleasantly so.

Predictions for Harry Potter

One of my goals this year was to reread the Harry Potter series before the last book comes out. I did this because, frankly, I forgot what happens in each book and I’m not a huge fan of the movies (I’ve only seen 1 and the DVD extras of 3) so things aren’t really solidified in my mind. I decided to read one per month which would have me finishing in June.

“What are you going to do for the rest of June and most of July?” asked Matt. We were arguing about whose reading schedule was better. I told him I would review.

I’m really glad I reread everything because I didn’t really remember much of the second book and only a little of the fourth book. The third book was less murky for me because I saw parts of the movie, but most of that was pretty unfamiliar too. Still, even with all of my reviewing, I got to the part in the sixth book when the big spider dies, and there was a reference to an earlier book when Ron and Harry encountered it. I had no idea what she was talking about. But I’ve got a good foundation for the last book.

Without further ado here are my predictions for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

This assumes you have either read all six books or don’t really care if you find anything out.

•We will spend 80% of the book thinking that Snape is evil, and 15% wondering if he might be good and 5% finding out that he is good. Although he did KILL Dumbledore. So this might be way off.

•One of the Weasley’s will die. There are just too many of them. They can’t all be in mortal peril forever. I’m guessing Charlie as he has been in Romania for the entire series and we haven’t gotten attached to him.

•Dumbledore is dead, but will advise/aid Harry in some way.

•Harry will die, and even though this will be tragic and sad, it will make for a somewhat tear sodden happy ending.

•If Harry doesn’t die, he will defeat Voldemort and become a quiddich player.

I’ve never experienced this during mediation, ever. (Hah!)

From “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The following morning, I arrive right on time for the 4:00 AM meditation session which always starts the day here. We are meant to sit for an hour in silence, but I log the minutes as if they are miles—sixty brutal miles that I have to endure. By mile/minute fourteen, my nerves have started to go, my knees are breaking down and I’m overcome with exasperation. Which is understandable, given that the conversations between me and my mind during meditation go something like this:

Me: OK, we’re going to meditate now. Let’s draw our attention to our breath and focus on the mantra. Om Namah Shivaya. Om Namah Siv—

Mind: I can help you out with this, you know!

Me: OK good, because I need your help. Let’s go. Om Namah Shivaya. Om Namah Shi—

Mind: I can help you think of nice meditative images. Like—hey, here’s a good one. Imagine you are temple. A temple on an island! And the island is in the ocean!

Me: Oh, that is a nice image.

Mind: Thanks. I thought of it myself.

Me: But what ocean are we picturing here?

Mind: The Mediterranean. Imagine you’re one of those Greek islands, with an old Greek temple on it. No, never mind, that’s too touristy. You know what? Forget the ocean. Oceans are too dangerous. Here’s a better idea—imagine you’re an island in lake, instead.

Me: Can we meditate now, please? Om Namah Shiv—

Mind: Yes! Definitely! But try not to picture that the lake is covered with…what are those things called—

Me: Jet Skis?

Mind: Yes! Jet Skis! Those things consume so much fuel! They’re really a menace to the environment. Do you know what else uses a lot of fuel? Leaf blowers. You wouldn’t think so, but—

Me: OK, but let’s MEDITATE now, please? Om Namah—

Mind: Right! I definitely want to help you meditate! And that’s why we’re going to skip the image of an island on a lake or an ocean, because that’s obviously not working. So let’s imagine that you’re an island in…a river!

Me: Oh, you mean like Bannerman Island, in the Hudson River?

Mind: Yes! Exactly! Perfect. Therefore, in conclusion, let’s meditate on this image—envision that you are an island in a river. All the thoughts that float by as you’re meditating, these are just the river’s natural currents and you can ignore them because you are an island.

Me: Wait, I thought you said I was a temple.

Mind: That’s right, sorry. You’re a temple on an island. In fact, you are both the temple and the island.

Me: Am I also the river?

Mind: No, the river is just the thoughts.

Me: Stop! Please stop! YOU’RE MAKING ME CRAZY!!!!

Mind (wounded): Sorry. I was only trying to help.

Me: Om Namah Shivaya…Om Namay Shivaya…Om Namah Shivaya.

Here there is a promise eight-second pause in thoughts. But then—

Mind: Are you mad at me now?

–and then with a big gasp, like I am coming up for air, my mind wins, my eyes fly open and I quit. In tears. An ashram is supposed to be a place where you come to deepen your meditation, but this is a disaster. The pressure is too much for me. I can’t do it. But what should I do? Run out of the temple crying after fourteen minutes, every day?

page 134

Not much of a suprise…..

You scored as Classical Liberal,You are a classical liberal. You are sceptical about much of the historicity of the Bible, and the most important thing Jesus has done is to set us a good moral example that we are to follow. Doctrines like the trinity and the incarnation are speculative and not really important, and in the face of science and philosophy the surest way we can be certain about God is by our inner awareness of him. Discipleship is expressed by good moral behaviour, but inward religious feeling is most important.

What’s your theological worldview?
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