ISSUE 52                                                                                                                                                                                       OCTOBER 2020
Deep Listening: A Spiritual Practice
"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words." ~ Rachel Naomi Remen

In college, I was taught that having the right answers was the most important thing about learning. Not a single professor or advisor ever mentioned anything about the practice of listening, and I studied social work. 
The practice of deep listening wasn't a thought until I was in the beginning of my third year working as a case manager. I was in the middle of a conversation with a homeless teen mother about flicking her 2-year old child's ear when he was doing something "wrong." The organization I worked for had a "no physical punishment" policy, and flicking ears was not OK. I didn't want her to get kicked out, so I was firm with her. When I was done talking at her, she looked up at me with a single tear falling from her eye. I knew her story; I had her file in front of me. But there was more. That tear...I had to listen to that single tear. She was terrible abused -- I knew that. What I didn't know was about the time and energy she took to figure out how not to abuse her child. How hard she had worked to change herself. To give her own child a different life than she had. A flick on the ear to her, was a world of love, an offering of something better. That moment of deep listening changed me, and the social worker I became for the next ten years.
Deep listening is a spiritual practice because it isn't something that comes naturally in our beautiful brains -- especially to extroverts, like me, who may have tendencies to verbalize enthusiastically. Deep listening is a process of listening to learn. It requires the temporary suspension of judgment and a willingness to receive. Deep listening means to hear every dimension of the other person, both what is said and what is implied. To hear the words and the emotions underneath those words. To be wholly present with another human being. 

Thich Nhat Hahn says, "Deep listening, compassionate listening is not listening with the purpose of analyzing or even uncovering. Deep listening is the kind of listening that helps us to keep compassion alive while the other speaks. During this time you have in mind only one idea, one desire: to listen in order to give the other person the chance to speak out and suffer less. This is your only purpose."

This month, may we all be open to the practice of deep listening, so we may carry it into every aspect of our lives. May we hold our families, children, adults, elders in the compassion of deep listening. And in our work for racial justice, may we as a faith community, intentionally open our hearts to listen deeply to the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and trust what they are telling us about their experiences.  

May we be wholly present with one another in the spiritual practice of deep listening. 
Staffing Change
Alexandra Ravenscroft has left her position as Religious Education Coordinator.

We welcome Karey Sutton as she transitions into the role beginning Tuesday, October 6. 
Board of Trustees Report
The Board is in the process of finalizing plans for the Fall Congregational Meeting. We are planning a virtual format, to be held after the November elections.
We are currently reviewing the 2020-21 budget for any necessary adjustments. We will share those in the congregational meeting, along with plans to ensure that we are in balance for the fiscal year.
We are currently documenting and prioritizing proposed revisions to the Bylaws. The main intent of these revisions is to ensure that every member of the congregation is able to cast their vote under any circumstances.
Renewal and Planned Giving
We live in a world that is ever changing in cyclical paths the seasons, birth and death, growth and fulfillment or disappointment. Living and loving can be exhausting spiritually and physically. We instinctively renew ourselves physically with rest and food. But we may not always attend to spiritual renewal without compassion and understanding. JUC provides a timely and supportive place, physically or virtually in this cycle of pandemic, to be together and out of the storm as a place for renewal.  

Our regular gifts are essential for JUC to operate and maintain our wonderful staff. When we come to the end of our life path, many of us are able to make a legacy gift to JUC to keep the light of love scattering to restore the world. Contact JUC's planned giving coordinators: Bud & B.J. Meadows, Mike Kramer or Carol Wilsey
Soon I may have dual Irish - U.S. Citizenship.

OK, well, not exactly... let me back up!

My beloved of many years, David Burrows, is the grandson of an Irish immigrant, Albert Burrowes, the 13th child in an Irish family from Kilmacrenan, Ireland. As the story goes, the farm wasn't going very well (very rocky soil) and as the 13th and youngest child, there wasn't much for Albert in County Donegal, so like many others of his generation and country, Albert moved to Philadelphia, dropping the "e" from his last name. In Pennsylvania, he met and married Martha, the daughter of Irish immigrants (also from Donegal).

In recent years, Ireland has opened up citizenship eligibility to expatriate grandchildren of those born in Ireland. For David, this has meant a delving into genealogy, locating records and documents of David's, his father's (Albert Jr.) and his grandfather's (Albert Sr.), such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, and even baptismal records. There have been emails and phone calls to numerous parts of Ireland, including to the registry at County Donegal. It seems that great-grandparents Burrowes did not indicate Albert Sr.'s first name on the birth certificate, meaning that David is having to certify the addition of the first name to the birth certificate. It seems like half of Ireland has been helping David locate the necessary records, including searching for a baptismal statement that was originally burned in a church fire, but a copy of which was located in a nearby church. 

Memorial stone, Church of St. Finaian and St. Mark's, Kilmacrenan, County Donegal, Ireland
Once David receives the grandfather's updated birth certificate from Ireland (with the certified first name from the baptismal record), he'll apply for Irish citizenship, and if granted, will be a dual citizen of Ireland and the US. Ireland was one of the first countries to recognize same-sex marriage, so once David is a citizen, I would be eligible to apply as well.

To answer the question that you may be thinking, "No, this is not an exit strategy depending on how the election goes." I suppose I could lead virtual choirs from anywhere in the world, but I'm looking forward to the day that the JUC community will gather together in person, and want to be present on that day. Instead it's more about looking ahead to the future, opening up options for us many years hence, including the possibility of spending time or living in the EU.

It's also about the past. I have had occasion during this time to think about George and Eliza Burrowes in Ireland, what their life might have been like on a farm, what 13 children would have meant for their living. Was their life joyful? Did Albert really want to leave the homeland? And in a way I've come face to face with George and Eliza, wondering if they knew that by not indicating a name on an 1895 birth certificate, their great-grandson would be spending time getting all of the records to agree, 120 years later.

David's father's name is Albert. So is his grandfather's. As is my dad's.

Keith & A.G. Arnold, 2009
September, 2020 marks two years since my own father's passing in Mobile, AL, after two years in nursing care. After all of the events since then, my own internal clock said it was three years since his death. My father didn't know of so many aspects of the world since his passing, including difficult health issues and surgeries in his family members, rising political tensions in the country, not to mention a global pandemic that was just around the corner. I'm grateful that he wasn't living in nursing care during COVID.

Unlike the clear Irish heritage from David's side of the family, my father's family didn't share stories of their heritage or ancestry. When my father was in his 60s, however, he took the time to write stories or vignettes of his growing up in a small town in Kansas just after the Great Depression. I have stories of his adventures by the creek, of the time he flagged down a train, of spending time in the pool hall, and of school life in the one room schoolhouse. He wrote stories of going off to college, and how he spent his summers working on the railroad, and of his singing in barbershop quartets. These were stories that he didn't share while I was growing up, but once he no longer had to spend his energies supporting the family, these stories came out of him to share.

Two months after his passing in November, 2018, A.G. Arnold's name was sung in a Jefferson Unitarian Church service, remembering all of those in our community who have died, as well as those beloved by members of our congregation. Each November, we have taken some time for such remembrances, singing the names of those who have passed in the last year. On November 1, 2020, we will engage in the same practice, singing those names who are dear to our people. We will include each church member who has died in the past year, and in addition, we welcome you to send in the name or names of those who have recently passed that you wish to have lifted up. 

Please send me any names by Sunday, October 25, to

Those in previous generations are with us, whether in correcting a birth certificate a century later, or in reading stories, or in remembering times of joy or pain shared with one another. Likewise, we are with future generations, whether or not we have children ourselves, our actions create the environment and conditions for those yet to come. We consecrate the present by remembering both past and future.
David Fleck, Trustee

The spirit and bedrock of community is our collective generosity. This manifests as financial contributions, manual labor on our grounds but most importantly the emotional support of a loving community never hesitant when need calls. With our church year rolling into a start unlike any other we face these challenges together. The JUC staff and volunteers have taken an amazing leap into virtual ministry. We have seen wonderful numbers of members and guests joining Sunday services, children starting their religious education experience and a return of our Going Deeper groups. While much social interaction has been tough to recreate we're all doing the best we can with the tools we have to make distance not be distant. 

Settling into this amended normality has brought financial changes to the church. Rental revenue from third parties that utilized our campus have come to a halt. Investments in technological upgrades and resources have been made to continue our togetherness while apart. We have also seen reduced effectiveness of the digital passing of the collection plate compared to in-person. Recently many of us have received our annual pledge forms. If you are going through a difficult financial time like many are it is OK to make an adjustment that fits. For those that are able, please join me in returning your pledge forms with an increase. A modest increase is important and helps us manage the cost impacts we're experiencing. Please be sure to return your pledge forms. I'm looking forward to seeing you all in person but until then I share my gratitude for the perseverance of our ministers, staff and you. Take care and please, give generously.
"The first duty of love is to listen." ~ Paul Tillich

I spent the summer before last as an intern in a local hospice. At that point, I had taken only one chaplaincy class and I was still looking for the magic bullet, how to find the words to "say the right thing" when serving people who were dying and their families. 

During the course of that summer, I visited people coping with all sorts of challenges. There were families struggling to come to terms with losing a loved one to addictions, the painful dynamics of blended families, legacies of child abuse, and many people facing their last days in a spiritual crisis and afraid to die. Only rarely did I encounter a hospice patient who was at peace with the life they had lived and the end they faced. 

I had learned in class to let the patient guide me in being there for them. But I wondered how I would know what to say to people in these dire situations. A friend of mine had volunteered in a hospice and she said, "Just hold their hands and listen and you will be fine." 

I took Sara's advice with me into that internship, and she was right. While my training was helpful in understanding how to identify a spiritual crisis and the limitations of pastoral care, I learned that the "magic bullet" wasn't sharing deep theological reflection or knowing the exact right words to say, but instead was to be quiet and give people the space to talk.

My summer at the hospice I became more intentional in my listening. Sometimes all I had to do was enter the room, introduce myself as the chaplain, and the patient would start to tell me about their childhood, their late spouse, or their existential questioning. People wanted eye contact and presence and a compassionate ear and they were eager to lay their burdens down.

Sometimes I found listening to be exhausting and I had to learn to let the stories (some of them brutal or sad) go at the end of the day. I learned how to listen sympathetically, but not take on other people's painful memories. 

Deep listening is a powerful tool for healing. Just this last weekend I went to see my brother and was rambling on about how busy I am when I realized that he was really listening to what I was saying. He was listening to me better than I was listening to me! I felt heard and seen and I was surprised to notice how unusual it felt to be really listened to. It made me wonder how well I listen.

In the course of everyday life, when I'm thinking about all the things I have to do, I don't listen very well. If I'm tired and busy, I find it challenging to listen to my seven year old's detailed stories, my teenager's passion for skateboarding or even my partner's day at work. 

I want to be good at listening. It's such an easy gift to give and it heals other people. I think the key to being a good listener starts with taking some quiet time every day to center myself in the moment and listen to myself first. If I maintain my own spiritual grounding, then I am able to listen to other people's passions and complaints, struggles and excitement and be present to them. 

It's not really so hard to heal the world when we learn to use our best tools; centering ourselves and being present for other people. 
Jessy Hennesy

I was hit hard by news of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death on Friday the 18th. I've read so many of her opinions, especially the dissents, over the years, and even dressed as her one year for Halloween. But beyond her resonance in my life, she was a stalwart supporter of access to healthcare and human rights. The election in November had already felt pivotal, but the stakes are drawn into even deeper relief now. 

I'm pouring my grief, fear, and anger into the election. I only have my own vote for each race or issue, but that impact can be magnified by reaching out to others. Every single election on our ballots this fall has repercussions on thousands of lives (some of them on millions or billions). Working with UU The Vote has made that easier for me, and can do the same for you. I can join phone and text banks supporting or opposing Colorado ballot measures. I can call people in swing states or states practicing voter suppression, to ensure that everyone who wants to vote can. And I can communicate with others about how my UU values are inspiring me to vote.

We have several opportunities for you to get involved or informed. Join us for one, or as many as you'd like! 
  • Wednesday, September 30, 4-6 p.m.: Text bank to oppose Proposition 115 in partnership with Vote No On 115, which would ban abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy. Join the meeting here starting at 3:45 p.m. so we can connect throughout. Please sign up to volunteer here before the call.
  • Saturday, October 3, 12-2 p.m.: Phone bank in support of Proposition 118, Paid Family and Medical Leave in partnership with Colorado Families First. Join the meeting here starting at 11:45 a.m. to connect with other JUCers. 
  • Thursday, October 8, 7-8 p.m.: JUC UU The Vote Colorado Ballot Initiative Night. Join UU The Vote at JUC for a discussion of the eleven initiatives on our Colorado ballots this year. We'll also have information on how to get more involved. Join the meeting here.
  • Wednesday, October 21, 5-7:30 p.m.: Join UUs across Wisconsin and the country as we call Wisconsin voters to ensure that they have what they need to vote safely in the November election in partnership with national UU The Vote. Join the meeting here starting at 4:45 p.m. so we can connect with each other throughout this crucial Phone Bank.
Additionally, be on the lookout for a mailing from JUC arriving in early October with information on specific ballot issues and highlighting some races to remember. And you can always join our email list and get more information at the UU The Vote at JUC Site
Andy Melick

Building Activities
Habitat Metro Denver halted all volunteer participation in March when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but over the summer they resumed taking volunteers on a limited basis at their construction sites, Restores, and Production Shop. Work is structured to prevent potential COVID exposure and ensure the health and safety of volunteers, along with partner families and staff members. Many thanks to the JUCers who have participated in one or more of these events: Jay Wilsey, Stephanie Wells, Cathy Martin, Bruce Martin, and Barbara Ludwig. Despite a spring and summer without most of the volunteer labor force, construction at Swansea Homes has continued to progress with the efforts of H4H staff, subcontractors, and core volunteers. JUC, in coalition with Jeffco Interfaith Partners, is sponsoring its second home in two years at Swansea. Jeffco Interfaith Partners anticipates build days for its congregations, including JUC, in November and December, but exact dates remain TBD. In the meantime, you can support H4H in October by:

Turning Pumpkins Into Houses
Jeffco Interfaith Partners is a coalition of local churches which JUC founded over 20 years ago. Together we sell pumpkins every October to raise money to sponsor a H4H house. We will do so again this year with many modifications to the operation to ensure volunteers and customers stay healthy and safe. The pumpkin patches are located in Lakewood at Mile High Church (9077 W. Alameda Avenue), and Arvada at Trinity Presbyterian Church (7755 Vance Drive). The pumpkins arrive on Wednesday, October 7 from Navajo farms in New Mexico. We need many volunteers to help unload the truck that afternoon. From Friday, October 8 through Halloween, we need even more volunteers to cover the daily sales shifts (10 a.m.-2 p.m.  and 2-6 p.m.).

Please consider signing up:

Habitat for Humanity's mission is to put love into action by bringing people together to build homes, community, and hope.  Everyone deserves a decent place to live. Thank you for supporting this tremendous work.  
Gretchen May

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is an independent organization founded by Unitarian Universalists and guided by UU principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UUSC advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

President of the UUSC, Mary Katherine Morn, was the very exciting guest preacher in the JUC pulpit yesterday. She reminded us that it is never too late to commit to justice.

In a July 23rd tribute to John Lewis, 'Living into the Legacy,' Mary Katherine Morn wrote: "The chalice flame is a spark that lights an unquenchable fire within us, and that fire stands for many things: Justice, peace, love, balance, connection, community, and transformation. The flaming chalice, to me, feels like a call to commitment and action, a call to see injustice, oppression, trauma, and suffering and to say, "Enough." How can we answer that call?

This is How the UU Service Committee Works For Human Rights: Rooted in Partnership, Ready to Respond
In uncertain times, we are called to act collectively - now more than ever. Find out how you can join in the UUSC response here.

During this pandemic we are more confined to our homes than in normal times, but we can still make our voices heard. For a start, if you would like to add your name to a petition that will: Tell Trump: Stop Deporting People and Spreading COVID-19, you can find that hereIf you would like to add your name to a petition that will: Tell Congress: Water is Life - Especially in a Pandemic, you will find it here

The work of the UU Service Committee impacts our local community as much as it impacts communities across the nation and around the world. They can respond quickly to climate disasters, violence and war, a global health crisis and the erupting widespread support for the Black Lives Matter movement, through their global network of grassroots partners. We encourage you to join their Action Network as they pivot to respond directly to the next rights-threatening crisis. If you would like to support the work of the UUSC, click here to find donation and membership options or to renew a membership. Please remember to identify your congregation when you donate. If you can commit to monthly automatic donations from your bank account or credit card, the UUSC can better plan ahead. Thank you for your support. There is so much work to be done.
Pat Emery

JUC volunteers and contributors are making a difference in the lives of people who look to the The Rising Church in Arvada for food and resources. Several churches are helping The Rising with their effort, and JUC is one of the main ones, providing meals and financial help to improve their capacity to serve people experiencing homelessness. The Rising offers services including legal advice, a dental clinic, showers, clean clothes, support in managing paperwork and applications, counseling and phone use. We helped get the place ready for and purchase a dishwasher/sanitizer, saving lots of money on paper dishes. With our help, they have recently finished the electrical and plumbing improvements needed to install a washing machine and dryer, which are next on the list.

We volunteer as cooks and servers for two hot lunches a week, gathering supplies from food banks and grocery stores, preparing the ingredients at home or in small groups. There are opportunities for new volunteers to help out with meal prep - either working at home or with others socially distancing at JUC. We also prepare plants and goodies for the Abundant Harvest Table, which was held at Gilla's house recently, raising $1,200 for The Rising and Earthlinks. We are also looking at starting up a pandemic version of Fellowship Dinners, with yummy comfort food dinners prepared by our team for pick up at JUC, but as a fundraiser to continue our work with people experiencing homelessness. Look for announcements to come.

The best news is that the Rising program has helped over 20 homeless people this year get set up and moved into apartments, complete with furniture and household items. There are opportunities for JUCers who like to help using personal contact, friendliness and encouragement, to help these newly housed people thrive in their new way of life, just by calling them now and again. 

We are always collecting personal items, especially clothing and winter items. You can by donating gently used furniture and basic home supplies, including shower curtains and hooks, bath and hand towels, washcloths, toilet paper, facial tissues, bathroom rug and trash can, toilet bowl brush, toaster, coffee maker, paper towels and holder, mop, broom and dustpan, kitchen trash can and bags, electric can opener, vacuum cleaner, microwave, kitchen utensils, silverware, kitchen towels, cleaning supplies, dishes, pots and pans, complete sheet sets, front door mat, and other useful household items.

We can be proud that we are making a difference in real people's lives. If you would like to participate, please contact Gilla Lachnitt or Pat Emery. There are many different ways to help, from chopping veggies at home to helping a newly housed person figure out the internet.