Rev. Valerie's Reveries

This blog contains personal reflections from Unitarian Universalist minister Valerie Mapstone Ackerman.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Welcome to my blog.

My friend Leslie long ago urged me to set this up...sorry it took so long!

With the world going to hell in a handbasket---hell being a human condition designed by human mendacity, avarice, vanity and fear-- it is no longer acceptable for compassionate and loving beings to sit on the sidelines wringing our hands. Or worse yet: turning our faces away from suffering to gaze at the beautiful places and beautiful people within our tight circles of care. Should we simply redirect our gaze we will stare into the bald face of human evil. There is too much work too be done, too many people to reach, too many organizations to found to allow silence or comfort or lethargy to win our souls. But you already knew all that.

Some years ago I briefly served as pastor to a church caught in an entrenched dysfunctional system of deceit. When I turned my gaze away from the beautiful trappings of a comfortable life as a well-paid minister only to be confronted by the depths of congregational illness and hatred, I nearly gave up on my calling. I left my version of pastoral life and moved to a farm in rural Oklahoma to fulfill my spouse's version of pastoral dreams. On our 20-acre slice of heaven at the end of a dirt road, he hoped to raise communities of bees and I hoped to avoid seeing how truly awful human community might be. I watched flowers grow and made friends with dogs and cattle. Each evening I lounged on the front porch swing drinking in a westward view of sunlight filtering through oaks leaves, casting inspiring beams of hope and contentment onto the hay field across the road. I dreamed of creating a retreat center where other wounded souls would find the healing I had found in solitude. Then the trailer park moved in.

I've got nothing against trailers as living quarters per se and nothing against people whose meager finances require them to live in houses which WILL blow apart in this tornado alley---it is just a matter of time. As a child I would have gladly moved into such a trailer park and found it luxurious if it had hot water and a bathtub. But last year I simply was not ready to substitute the tranquil verdant view from my front porch for incessantly barking dogs, dozens of perpetually-burning street lights and wounded children who find amusement in throwing firecrackers at cats.

Jolted back to reality by the very social conditions that pulled me into ministry---a socio-political system which punishes the poor and enriches the few, I sunk deeper into a depression that threatened to take me out permanently. Because the only way out is through the pain that's where I went, grudgingly. On the way I found that I could do yoga and meditation without the guilty feeling of self-indulgence I used to experience and I discovered a deeper spirituality than I had ever found in comfortable times.

On the other side of the pain I found hope again, not in swinging on my front porch, but in joining my fate to the oppressed and forgotten people of the world. So that's what this blog will be about for me: bringing a vision of compassionate possibility forged in the crucible of disappointment and annealed through attention to spiritual growth and community ties.

Oh yeah, and I plan to rant too.
I look forward to your responses.



  • At June 16, 2006 9:32 PM, Blogger Ereshkigal said…

    Hurrah for Leslie! She gave you great advice. I look forward to reading more from you, both reveries and rants.

  • At June 17, 2006 9:43 AM, Blogger Christine Robinson said…

    Welcome to Blogging, Valerie! May it continue to be a part of your healing and ministry.

  • At June 18, 2006 11:00 AM, Blogger Paul Tay said…

    Rant away! Great distraction from cookin' up some ridiculous plan to convert a perfectly nice government building into a pile of rubble. And, then, the unmitigated gall to spin the whole bloody mess as a tourist attraction. My goodness, the late great Mr. Goebbels would be so proud.

  • At June 18, 2006 11:05 AM, Blogger Paul Tay said…

    A pesky trailer park full of poverty strickened heathens who are probably cookin' meth bargin' in your microcosmic bubble of solitude, eh? Quite the irony. Actually, if you listen calmly to the Bubba Buddha, an unique opportunity has presented itself right onto your doorstep. Amazing how the stars might line up.

  • At June 18, 2006 11:38 AM, Blogger Myths said…

    First of all 4:40 a.m. is an "Ungodly" hour to be posting!*grin No one should make as much sense as you did at this mythical hour.I'm looking forward to reading more posts!
    I had to of course set up my own blog in order to post a comment on yours.
    Good luck on your cleaning, preview of the Tulsa Peace House today! The kids and i are determined to spend Father's Day with Steve and so i won't be able to come.
    Tho i've a sign for kids to color in that i brought on the Community Unity Relay yesterday for businesses and connection in N. Tulsa.
    It quotes Theodore Parker: "The Arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Justice"
    I'll bring that by to the Peace House for when my kids or others come that they could color it in.
    I'm still working on catalogueing films, cd's and books for the Lending Library, the bulk is what Nancy and Teri have gotten through TPF, still looking for shelves as well, no luck yet.

    Signs of a Growing Evolving soul:
    "On the other side of the pain I found hope again, not in swinging on my front porch, but in joining my fate to the oppressed and forgotten people of the world. So that's what this blog will be about for me: bringing a vision of compassionate possibility forged in the crucible of disappointment and annealed through attention to spiritual growth and community ties."
    One phrase in particular stands out to me, "By joining in my fate to the opressed and forgotten people of the world...."

    How many truly begin the transforming journey in service to those who's 'trials' call to our hearts,to honor our soul's greater journey which transcends the here and now, the resulting connection being a Light in the darkness,for others and in doing so, for ourselves as well?

    How many of us have come to the realization that the higher goals of our souls offer that very peace and connection that eludes us in our childish aim of "chasing it down"?, in bumbling manners i.e. trying to catch a butterfly with a bucket?
    Only to find ourselves one day sitting in silence in the yard,(not lost in woe and self depracation but in open listening/awareness,mindful of accepting that which is ready to enter our moment),to have a butterfly land nearby,asking only that you take in the gentle pulse of it's wings, the colors,the sounds that surround you the scents that you breathe in, the breeze that caresses you and the sun that warms you, expanding your attention out. Realizing these are around and within not only you, but all within it's region and connect to that moment,each in their own unique way.*
    Noticing where the butterfly lands next, or where your next thought lands is a moment of transformation awaiting many who honor the space and time of the here and now.
    and so i go...
    Peace, Love and Connection,
    *Expanding your consciousness to connect with that universal moment of the caressed and Peaceful, as well as the opressed and Fearful, allows the breath you release to be one of shared healing...

  • At June 22, 2006 12:31 AM, Blogger Valerie Mapstone Ackerman said…

    So nice to know someone is reading. And inspiring me to keep ranting or reflecting gently as the need arises.

  • At July 06, 2006 5:56 PM, Blogger Mikey said…

    Valerie, I found it! I feel like Brigham Young. Dinner tim. More later.

  • At July 11, 2006 5:21 PM, Blogger jwgil said…

    Greetings Val, It is good to see that you are continuing your ministry. I have decided, after being repeatedly chastised for representing the poor and oppressed and trying to open doors for them in various congregations and organizations (the last congregation and organization being the worse) I have decided to begin my ministry again. I teach Tai Chi, Meditation, Kenpo for Health and Longevity and several other things. I also offer courses on the internet and have a cyber service for those who would like to hear a progressive theology, instead of a liberal one. I am very glad that things are going well.



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