ISSUE 47                                                                                                                                                                                                 MAY 2020
L istening to Our Lives
My goodness, it sure feels like we are at the precipice of thresholds;  the point of entry or beginning --  yet we still are learning to remain in the presence of the here and now, a day and sometimes minutes at a time. Our ability to function outside our homes is still a bit foggy, and we are waiting to see how this will manifest in real-time in the month ahead of us. Each day seems to bring conflicting reports of how and when we can return to a sense of normalcy, "restart" our lives, who can return to work, and what all this might mean for our children. There are so many unknowns that can intensify the uneasiness within our hearts, minds, and bodies. We are almost there -- yet are we?

JUCer's are doing an amazing job despite the unknowns! I have received delightful stories and messages from JUC families sharing their experiences of how to make the best of these unprecedented times. There have been "travels" to different countries where families have shared international food and culture each week, Friday family dance videos, remote game nights shared with family members and friends across the country, video watch parties, remote tea parties, howling at the moon, and so much more. We are figuring out that in the midst of the unknown, we can invite creativity into our lives and, at the same time, build memories that will last lifetimes. Along with this creativity, there are also challenges; families are trying to work and engage in online schooling, there is an epidemic of restless child (and parent) syndrome, many families have financial or employment insecurities, and the concern for the health and well-being of loved ones far away is real. We are learning how to move through this pandemic as best we can, all the while holding fear, anxiety, and restlessness.  

Our understanding of thresholds for families is shifting. Graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, even funerals, look and feel different. So, what are we claiming as thresholds in our lives? How are we redefining them? How are we creating a new understanding of the thresholds? Soul Matters asks us: " But what if the true invitation of a threshold is not to successfully move from here to there, but instead to just sit and pause?" What if we saw thresholds as resting places rather than as those moving walkways that transport us through airports? What if thresholds help us "become" by asking us to "be" for a while? No moving. Just noticing and naming. Less traveling and more listening.  

We have been at a pause in our lives for what feels like an eternity. We have been asked to "be" in a whole different way. What are you able to notice and name from just being? How are you listening? The Quakers have a saying, Let your life speak, and Parker Palmer takes this a step further with the words, "Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am." What if our threshold for this month was to listen to our lives to discover a deeper sense of who we are? What are our lives telling us about who we are? I invite you to listen deeply and discover how your life might be unfolding.

Board of Trustees Report
We are still here! Even though we're all practicing social distancing, The Board of Trustees has been holding frequent online meetings and conducting business as usual.

You should expect a communication from the Board in the coming weeks on the State of the Church. Among the topics of discussion are all options for the Spring Congregational Meeting. 

Please know that each one of you is on our hearts and minds.
EMGT Application Extension
In light of COVID-19's impact on operations of our congregation, the Endowment Memorial Gift Trust Board is indefinitely extending the deadline for grant applications to improve our JUC community. 

EMGT has more than $40,000 available to award in grants for this fiscal year, beginning July 1. 

All grant applications need to be submitted through a standing committee at the church, so please discuss your ideas with the appropriate group and submit your application to the EMGT board. Awards will be made until funds are exhausted. The  application with all instructions is online here .
Liberation  and Planned Giving
In many ways this pandemic we are in has liberated our world and us from going about our business as usual. This provides a clearer opening to better understand the ways we are one world, one people all interconnected and interdependent. It can be an opportunity in this fast-changing modern world to make some needed changes as return to the post-pandemic world slowly occurs. 

This pandemic has also reminded us once again that estate planning is essential. A complete estate plan will liberate our minds and the minds of our loved ones from the fear of "what to do when the time comes". It can make the what ifs, more palatable. JUC will be a change agent as we stand on the threshold of recombining our community after COVID-19. To help keep it strong, include a bequest to JUC in your estate plan.

Contact JUC's planned giving coordinators: Bud & B.J. Meadows , Mike Kramer or Carol Wilsey
NAMIWalks 2020
For many years JUC has sponsored a NAMIWalks team to raise awareness and help overcome the stigma of mental illness.  This year is different for all of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for mental health support is more urgent than ever. NAMI Colorado, the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Colorado, provides education, support and advocacy for persons who have a mental illness and their families, through its many free programs offered statewide. 
Two ways to participate this year: 

Sunday, May 16
Donate through the JUC special plate offering for NAMI Colorado.

Saturday, May 30
Participate in NAMIWalks Your Way, a virtual experience, in Colorado and across the country.

Participants can make NAMIWalks their own by walking a 5K- through the neighborhood, around your backyard or on a treadmill. Or choose something else to celebrate our virtual walk day, such as crafts with your kids or practicing self-care with a favorite hobby. We hope you will join us in standing against the stigma of mental Illness, and support the work of NAMI, especially on May 16 & May 30.

There it was: a choral video from May 2019, where I was conducting multiple choirs, Jalisco and South Indian dancers, and even a Jewish fusion band. There we were, all singing "Draw the circle wide, no one stands alone, we'll stand side by side." I had clicked on the video, expecting to be uplifted with the memory of the experience, about to relive an enjoyable and impactful event from a year ago. As I listened to the singers from many backgrounds sing in harmony, as I saw bodies standing so close to one another on the risers, as I witnessed the easy and joyful movement of the drummers and dancers which included children, a sadness began to well up in me. This was hard, remembering -- was it just recently or was it another lifetime -- the experience of people gathering with common purpose to create beauty and connection. All of a sudden the physical separation hit me in unexpected ways, how so much of my life and work has been about bringing people together. Ensemble music making requires a balance of listening and creating, giving and receiving at the same time, and while watching and listening to an echo of the past, I deeply missed the process of creating music together. These practices are ones I have spent my lifetime cultivating and refining, and their absence hit me hard.

Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still.
Let this be our song: No one stands alone!
Standing side by side, draw the circle wide.

Is this true for you: that music and lyrics are hitting me harder and more closely these days? As I see and hear the incredible creativity from musicians and colleagues that is exploding in this time and that musicians are sharing, I am frequently brought to tears.

Malcolm Dalglish's inspiring music to Wendell Berry's words, made sweeter through their resolution of hope and action:
Planting trees early in spring we make a place for birds to sing in time to come. How do we know? There's singing here now! There is no other guarantee that singing will ever be.
Watch here.

Our hymn #146:
Soon the day will arrive, imagining a day in the future in which we will be reunited:
Soon the day will arrive when we will be together and no longer will we live in fear. And the children will smile without wondering whether on that day thunderclouds will appear.
Watch here.

Our hymn #318:
We would be one, which connects individuals to the community of the world in this time:
But other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes as true and high as mine.

It's like all of this time, these words and this music that has been here all along, a film has been removed and the songs have a deeper meaning, more urgency, they are hitting the mark.

This is indeed a threshold time. Even as we may be desperately missing ways of being that are not possible at the moment -- for me, this includes making music in person which is about pulling together on a common goal -- one threshold is to continue to open hearts, to see what has been present the whole time with new understanding, to stay flexible and create new ways of expression.

Whether or not we are physically sitting or standing next to each other, may we be attuned more highly to the emotional and spiritual connections that are possible, knowing that we are not alone and that we are all in the circle of love.

My work life here a JUC is *mostly* like normal, other than it is very quiet here in the office. If you need something, please call or email me and I will try to help you! I'm in the office weekdays. I am making sure that things still run as smoothly as possible along with Linda Horn on Monday mornings (she is a key volunteer who helps make sure our donations get deposited and categorized properly) and our bookkeeper, Kristin Miller, who is here Wednesdays. Most of you have probably not met Kristin (though she has worked here since 2014!), but she is a gift to the Congregation. We are keeping our distance from each other and wiping down surfaces!

Grocery Rewards

If you shop for food (my household is buying more than ever right now!), the grocery store will give JUC money! Here are the ways the following stores donate when you shop:

King Soopers -  Sign up with your SooperCard to have JUC as your chosen charity for their Community Rewards. When you scan your card, or enter your ID on the pin pad, JUC gets credit for your purchases and then King Soopers sends us a quarterly check. You no longer need to use a gift card purchased from JUC and reload it!

For the last quarter of 2019 we had 83 families enrolled in the King Soopers program and our portion of the Reward donations was $1,208.12.

Safeway - Purchase a reloadable gift card from JUC. The cards come loaded with $10. When you reload at the store, JUC gets a donation of 5% of the amount. You can mail a check for $10 to the office and we'll mail a card back to you.

Natural Grocers - Purchase a gift card from JUC.  The cards come loaded with $100 (we buy the cards for $95 each so we make $5 on each card). These cards are NOT reloadable for JUC credit, so you need to purchase a new card for us to earn money. You can mail a check for $100 to the office and we'll mail a card back to you.

Thanks for helping us raise a little money just by doing your normal grocery shopping!

EFT for Special Plate Donations

Since 2013 we have taken a Special Plate offering once per month for our community partners. The Congregation has given more than $275,000 during that time to organizations that amplify our mission outside our walls. We want to make it easier for you to participate in the Special Plate offerings by setting up Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) as an option. If you would like to make a regular donation each month, please fill out this form  . Donations will be processed on the 15th of each month, so you know your contribution will be there to support our partners. Remaining 2019/20 recipients are as follows:
May:                NAMI
June:              Jeffco Human Service Foundation
More information on the Special Plate and each of the partner organizations can be found  here.