Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrating Resurrection!

Do you have happy childhood Easter memories? Perhaps getting new church clothes! Or having visits from the Easter Bunny? Did you enjoy hunting eggs?

When I was a child attending elementary school in Statesboro, GA, we had an Easter egg hunt at the home of one of my classmates. His name was Alan Minkovitz and his family was Jewish. Nevertheless, we went to his home for the Easter egg hunt. They had beautiful azaleas and dogwoods blooming in their yard. And that’s one of the memories that has stuck with me to this day. So the secular side of Easter brings happy memories for me. But what about the religious side?

As Easter approached each year, my Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers and preachers told me of the sacrifice that Jesus had made for MY sins. He died for ME. And the music, especially tugged at my heart.
(Sing) "Jesus paid it all.
All to him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow."

Yes, Jesus shed his blood for me. And that blood washed away my sins.
(Sing) "Oh! Precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus."

When I was nine years old I made my profession of faith at a church revival while listening to such songs. How could I not give my heart to this man who had so much love in him that he had taken on the burden of my sins? But the good news was that Jesus and his love did not remain in the grave. And the music re-sounded that message.
(Sing) "He arose, he arose, hallelujah Christ arose."

However, the time came when my head and my heart were at odds with this idea of Resurrection. My head not only won, it converted my heart to a new way that made more sense. So NOW – what do I do with the resurrection story?

For many years I tried to just not think about it. I tried to think, instead, about the life of Jesus and his teachings; because I could believe those and they made sense to me. But I could not use what I could not believe in my life. So I began to view the Easter holiday in a more traditionally pagan manner – as a time to celebrate rebirth and renewal – a springtime celebration that I could share with my children and other family members.

And that’s where many Unitarian Universalists probably find themselves –celebrating the renewal aspects of Easter and ignoring the resurrection. In the late 90’s, however, the resurrection story became very important to me again.

In January of 1998, a couple of years before I joined the UU’s, I shared a reflection with my Sunday school class. I read this reflection also to those of you who were here back in 2005.
So if you were here then, you may have heard this story before. But many of you were not here; and I think it’s important to have an understanding of where I’m coming from with much of my use of religious language. The reflection that I wrote back in 1998 is entitled: Death and Resurrection, and I’d like to read it to you now.

“The idea of Death and Resurrection has a very special meaning to people of faith. And usually we think of this concept in terms of the story of the resurrection of Jesus. But I think this death and resurrection metaphor has a much broader application. For example, the death and resurrection story has special meaning for many whose loved ones have died. And this image of resurrection gives a glorious hope for many as they approach that ultimate death.

“But we also die small deaths everyday; and at the end of the day we experience the death of ourselves for that day knowing that the sun will come up tomorrow and we will resurrect. The death and resurrection metaphor has become especially important to me in recent days.

“I've enjoyed a wonderful marriage and I'm so grateful for that. Oh, we've had lots of ups and downs, as all marriages do, but for the most part, it has been exciting, vibrant, and glorious. But a cancer invaded my marriage. And like many others we've known, I really tried to defeat it. During the Christmas holidays, the pain became unbearable. And since that time, I've had to come to the reality that my marriage is over and that, of course, has been very difficult. I've also had to realize that the ‘married me’ – the ‘me’ that was part of ‘Fred-n-Jane’ – will also be no more; and that's about the only me I know.

“We were married in 1968. I was 17 and had just graduated from high school. Fred was 21 and just flunking out of college. But, it seemed right at the time! So I don't really know who an adult Jane is without the Fred. And that's where the death and resurrection metaphor becomes so meaningful to me.

“I feel like I'm in a tomb, and its dark. But friends, I can hear the stone moving. I don't know how long it will take, but it’s moving. And I can see a little crack of light. So I feel good about it.... Because I know that, for me, Easter is coming!”
(Personal manuscript; January 1998)

Now, it’s interesting that a Bible Story that I had tried to IGNORE for years because I could not believe it literally - came back to comfort me at this very difficult time.

Why was resurrection the important metaphor for me rather than perhaps renewal or metamorphosis? Because for there to be resurrection, – something must die. For me, it was what had been a central part of my identity. Sometimes we have to let our identity DIE before the stone can roll away and we can become a new person. That’s what happened to me and Easter DID come!

So – little by little – even as I began to “come out” of the Christian closet, I also began to try to recover the stories, symbolism, songs and traditions of my Christian heritage that can help me as I go forward in life.

As part of my seminary training, I took a course in the Ancient Church. And as I read about the early church, it became very clear to me that the reason Christianity took off and grew so rapidly had little to do with the historical Jesus. In fact, sometimes I wonder if some Christians have really examined the teachings of Jesus. It’s not the historical Jesus that Christians worship. It’s the resurrected Jesus! Because that Jesus has been presented to them as a living spirit – God incarnate living in their hearts.

I do not know what happened to Jesus’ body after his death. I do not believe that his dead body regained breath and came back to life after two or three days. However, I do not doubt that his followers and disciples saw glimpses of Jesus, heard his voice, felt his presence. People still do today. And they see Mary. Just as many people also report that they see or hear or feel the presence of their loved ones who have passed on.

Have you ever heard a voice or seen or felt something that later you realized wasn’t a physical reality? Have you ever had false memories? Our brains are very complex and we are not sure how these kinds of things happen. But they do. And as some of his followers spread the word of the glimpses they had of Jesus, others saw and felt him too. As far as they were concerned, he was alive!!

Why was that so important? I believe it is important because we need to feel that whatever it is that we consider as divine or sacred or ultimate in our lives is a living spirit - not necessarily as a separate ontological being – but as something that can give us the hope and power and energy to make a difference in this world.

That’s why “breath” is so important to the Buddhist; why verbalizing prayer is so important to the Jew, the Muslim, the Baha’i; why movement to drums is so important to many who practice earth based religions; why being with others in community is so important to the Humanist; and why connecting to all of nature, including these beautiful flowers we’ve brought for our flower communion, is so important to the Naturalist. We need to embody the Ultimate. We need to embody LOVE.

Today, Christians around the world are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus – an embodiment for them of the living spirit of love! That living spirit of love that filled my nine-year-old heart! I may use different words and have a different theology now than I did then, but I want to keep that living Spirit!

Last week, I had some confirmation that maybe I had some of it in me. I was over at our local food outreach center, picking up some food for our UU team to use for out turn Feeding Statesboro. There was a man working there who looked familiar to me – and he helped me locate the food that Joe Bill Brannon had stuck back for us. As we were loading it into a box, he said –
“Aren’t you that woman that helped me?”

And I remembered – and said, “Yes, I am.” I remembered him then as someone helped in an emergency situation with funds from my discretionary account that you make possible with your donations.

He said he didn’t recognize me at first cause I had a baseball cap on my head – and went on to tell me how well he was doing now. Then he said something that about blew me away. He said, “Some church folks talk about Jesus coming again – but I tell them I see Jesus in the flesh every day. Now he doesn’t come knockin’ on your door with a beard and long robes. But he’s there if you really look for him. In fact, sometimes he’s a short, blond-headed woman with a baseball cap on her head.”

I smiled and said, “Yes, and sometimes he looks just like you.”

Now this gentleman and I have differing theologies – but we are looking for the same thing. And while he may use Bible narratives to help him, as a religious naturalist, I more often find my inspiration in nature. In his song, “Let it be a dance” – Ric Masten said, “Morning star comes out at night.” That morning star is actually the planet Venus – named for the Goddess of Love. And if you look to the eastern horizon before the sun comes up, you can often see Venus shining there; a bright little light – like that crack of light shining in the tomb – a sign that the day will soon break! Yes, a sign that even when things are very dark for you – the sun will come up.

While I love the metaphors of nature, I can still appreciate and honor the metaphors and stories of various religions – including Christianity. We Unitarian Universalists are good at honoring other religions. But from my experiences I think we do a better job of it with other World Religions than we do with Christianity, though there are Christians among us. We are getting better with this; but we still have work to do too.

If we do this work, and reach out to others and work with them on social justice goals that we have in common (like we are now doing with Voces Unidas and Feeding Statesboro), and help them in honoring their own traditions while inviting them to celebrate in ours – how wonderful that would be!

If people of all faiths – and those of no particular faith – could do more of that; if we could all join in celebrating that resurrection spirit of life and love; then perhaps – just perhaps – there would be a real chance for peace in the world. And then we could all join in singing –

(Sing) "Hallelujah, Hallelujah – Hallelujah!"


Monday, April 11, 2011

A Story of Two Birds

I have a story today about two birds: Crystal Crane and Peter Peacock.

One day Crystal Crane saw Peter Peacock and noticed how beautiful and colorful he was. And his tail feathers were long and had these marvelous colorful looking circles on them. Crystal turned her head and looked at her own body. It was covered with feathers that were had very little color – just sort of grayish with some white and black.—just not colorful at all. And she tried to make her tail feathers stand up but they wouldn’t. And she was sad. And she thought, “Oh, if I could only have beautiful colorful feathers like Peter Peacock, I would be so happy.”

Crystal’s friend saw that she was sad and told her she should go to the Wize Wizard about it – and maybe he could help her. “Oh GOOD,” Crystal thought, “maybe he can work some magic and make me colorful like Peter.”

Crystal went to the Wizard and told him her wishes. He said, “Oh my wonderful Crane. You have so much to be thankful about your grand body. Why the peacock is stuck here on the ground and you can soar to great heights and fly all around and look at this beautiful earth. And what a beautiful site you are in flight! Don’t you see what a grand body you have?” And the crane thought about that and was very glad that she could fly and see the wonderful world from so high. So she took off and did just that. And she was proud and happy with her body.

But there is more to this story.

Peter Peacock looked up and saw her flying and thought, “Oh, what a wonderful bird with such grand wings that can take her high in the sky. If only I could fly like that!” And he was sad. His friend saw that he was sad and suggested that he go see the Wise Wizard.

Peter told the wizard his wish and the wizard said, “Oh my – don’t’ you know what a wonderful body you have? Why many creatures all over the world look at your beauty with such delight. Look here in this pond and see the beauty you bring to the world. If you were flying high above – we could not see you closely and appreciate your great beauty. You have a wonderful body.” And the peacock looked at his reflection and he was so beautiful. And he strutted away as a proud peacock – happy with his body.

"Let Your Body Learn to Bend"

Ric Masten says – “Let Your Body Learn to Bend.” And when I’m in my yoga class here on Tuesday evenings, I say – "I’m trying Ric… I’m trying."

I’ve been thinking a lot about the body lately – my body, your body,… every body; maybe because I had assigned myself this sermon to do on bodies. It’s made me more AWARE of bodies, and I think that’s a good thing, in moderation. In any case, I’ve been observing, googling, reading, feeling, gawking, dreaming, meditating, and writing on or about bodies this week; putting all my found treasures into that special holding place, the body folder on my computer desktop. Perhaps because I had written a letter to the editor about the young person who played for you last week – the young woman who had gotten straight A’s since 5th grade – it occurred to me that what I wanted us to do today was find some way to reach for that goal of having a “Straight A” Attitude when it comes to our bodies.

The First A is for APPRECIATION. We need to appreciate our bodies. Here are some amazing body facts that I found which may help us appreciate our wondrous bodies. Actually, some of this is pretty useless information – but it may be stuff that you don’t know – and I don’t want you to leave here without learning something new.

Tongue Print: Don’t stick out your tongue if you want to hide your identity. Similar to fingerprints, everyone also has a unique tongue print!

Shedding: Your pet isn’t the only one in the house with a shedding problem. Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour. That works out to about 1s.5 pounds each year, so the average person will lose about 105 pounds of skin by age 70.

Bone Count: An adult has fewer bones that a baby. We start off life with 350 bones, but because bones fuse together during growth, we end up with only 206 as adults.

New Stomach: Did you know that you get a new stomach lining every three to four days? If you didn’t, the strong acids your stomach uses to digest food would also digest your stomach.

Scent Remembering: Your nose is not as sensitive as a dog’s, but it can remember 50,000 different scents.

Long Intestines: The small intestine is four times as long as the average adult is tall. If it weren’t looped back and forth upon itself, its length of 18 to 23 feet wouldn’t fit into the abdominal cavity making things rather messy.

Bacteria: This will make your skin crawl: Every square inch of skin on the human body has about 32 million bacteria on it, but fortunately, the vast majority of them are harmless.

Source of Body Odor: The source of smelly feet, like smelly armpits, is sweat. And people sweat buckets from their feet. A pair of feet have 500,000 seat glands and can produce more than a pint of sweat a day.

Sneeze Speed: The air from a human sneeze can travel at speeds of 100 miles per hour or more – another good reason to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze – or duck when you hear one coming your way.

Saliva Quantity: You may not want to swim in your spit, but if you saved it all up, you could. In a lifetime, the average person produces about 25,000 quarts of saliva – enough to fill two swimming pools.


So that gives you plenty to appreciate!

The Second A is Attend to and care for our bodies.

Now I don’t need to give most of you a lesson on this – and I’m not an expert anyway. Most of the folks in this room have a pretty good idea of what we need to do to attend to and care for our bodies. We need to feed them good food and drink, stretch them, exercise them, clean them, keep them from getting too cold or too hot, fulfill other needs when appropriate, and of course, help them to relax – and to sleep. So I’m no expert, but I’m good at finding experts – or at least folks who have interesting things to say – and here is what some of them say.

Our friend Paul the Apostle tells the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Our own Henry David Thoreau also used the temple metaphor saying, “Every man is the builder of a Temple called his body, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead.” 

The Buddha gave this advice: “To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”

Here’s some musings from that distinguished Englishman of letters, Samuel Johnson. “Some people have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat.  For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it, that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else.”

Inge Spencer’s yogi, B.K.S. Iyengar, says: “The body is your temple.  Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.”

But I think I prefer Shakespeare’s metaphor from Othello. “Our bodies are our gardens - our wills are our gardeners.”

In the early days of the automobile, John Kendrick Bangs wrote:
“What fools indeed we mortals are
To lavish care upon a Car,
With ne'er a bit of time to see
About our own machinery!”

I’ve taken that advice to heart, and just as I get regular oil changes and tune-ups for my Prius, I now get a monthly massage. For as Robert Brault shares, “Massage is the only form of physical pleasure to which nature forgot to attach consequences.”

And one thing I need to do better with is SLEEP. D.H. Lawrence writes, “And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.”

If you say that you're dying to get a good night's sleep, you could mean that literally. You can go without eating for weeks without succumbing, but eleven days is tops for going without sleep. After eleven days, you'll be asleep -- forever!

So we need to appreciate our bodies and attend to and care for them. But let’s not fool ourselves! While our bodies are wondrous – they can wreak havoc. They are far from perfect. In fact, if we are, indeed, created in God’s image – then God is not perfect. In fact, God got some problems. So our third A – is that we need to Alleviate pain and suffering in our bodies if possible.

It seems that our precious, wondrous, bodies are constantly being attacked. Yes, attacked by such things as viruses, bacteria, cancer cells, allergens, disease, and lately for me – poison ivy. And, of course, the aging process kicks in with some aches and pains as well. Thank God – or the gods & goddesses (take your pick) or the healers and scientists for the wondrous powers of medicine and medical procedures! Since the dawn of humanity, people have sought ways through magic or medicine to alleviate pain and suffering.

I do not understand the religious groups that reject medical help. However, I’ve also become aware that our society has become somewhat paranoid about having every test possible done for every little thing – and taking medication that we perhaps do NOT need – and indeed where the risks and costs don’t make sense.

Like many advances in our society, we can use them in a healthy manner – or not so healthy. And indeed, addiction to pain pills in now a major concern. While traveling to Florida, you see billboards advertising pain clinics which are little more than small offices in strip malls. “Often the cash-only clinics require just a cursory exam — if any — before a doctor will prescribe large amounts of narcotic pain medication such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which can be highly addictive. Some of the clinics have in-house pharmacies to fill the prescriptions, says Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA and local police call them pill mills. It’s a serious problem.” ( Yet, when we really need the medication, I’m the first to shout, “Hallelujah for drugs.”

Medical science is a wondrous thing – and possibly a slippery slope for disaster when we are not careful. Like most good things in life – it becomes a balancing act. There CAN be too much of a good thing. Somewhere it turns – and you know what I mean. It’s up to us to learn to recognize those turning points.

Our 4th A is --- believe it or not – Alter your body if it’s reasonable, healthy, and meaningful to do so. For example, I’m glad that we have ways to replace body parts now. We have folks in our congregation who are able to participate more fully in society because of this. Again, Hallelujah!

But then there are other ways to altar our bodies that may not be as acceptable to some folks. As some of you know, I was raised in a beauty shop. My mom made a good living by altering people’s hair. She curled straight hair, straightened curly hair, colored gray hair, and bleached dark hair. She also plucked and dyed eyebrows, and painted finger nails. Women walked into her shop feeling depressed and walked out feeling beautiful. Maybe that was also because my mom gave them a good head massage with their shampoo and listened as a good therapist to their stories. In any case, growing up in that environment probably gave me a more open view to folks making shifts and changes in their appearance. Of course the possibilities for doing that were much more limited in Statesboro in the 50’s and 60’s. With the growth of plastic surgery, tattoo parlors, and other industry primed to get our dollars in return for modifying our appearance – there are greater and more expensive opportunities. But again, my philosophy is one of permissiveness – with caution and moderation. Now what is moderate for some – may not be for others. And sometimes we have to work on being more tolerant about this.

My son Fred got his first tattoo when he was in high school – too young to legally get one, and without my permission. But he’s always looked older than he is. Even now! Because he was thin and always wore a shirt when he went swimming to cover up his skinny body (or at least that’s what I thought), I was totally unaware of the tattoos. Eventually they moved further down his arms though – and by then, he was a grown man. It frustrated me at first – and I was not at all understanding. But you know, these tattoos are all special to him, and they have somehow helped him to feel better about himself. Now – it’s just a part of who he is, and I actually have gotten to the place where I can enjoy them – not that I want any myself.

And then there is my friend Elijah – who has given me permission to share his story and use his real name. Elijah is his REAL name – because he had his name changed legally – but it’s not his birth name. Yes, Elijah is a transgender person. I encouraged him to write his story – and he’s begun that process. Here is what he sent me recently.

“I knew I was different from an early age. I never really did the ‘girl’ thing. I didn’t play with Barbies, I didn’t wear dresses, I didn’t like girl things. I always did ‘boy’ things. I was the ultimate tom boy. I did all of the ‘boy’ things. I climbed things, I played in the dirt, I got into fights, I played basketball, and played video games with the boys in my neighborhood, I played with Hot Wheels, I played outside, I even had a ‘boy’ haircut and I had way more male friends than female friends. That has flip-flopped now, though.

“Growing up I just dealt with what was going on because I knew better than to voice anything about how I felt. I came out as a lesbian at the age of 15 and dove into the GLBT community that I fond online. I found a queer chatroom and met a few transmen that were in it. After talking to them for a while I realized that I was transgender. I didn’t come out as trans until I was 17 years old. When I first came out I really didn’t have a support system. My family was freaking out at the time…. It has been 5 years since I first came out and they are still not dealing well with it. My father and I don’t have much of a relationship due to his ignorance and not accepting me. All of my family members refuse to call me Elijah. There isn’t much I can do about it.”

Elijah has now begun the T process – which is taking male hormones. That will ALTER his body to be more of a match for the person he feels that he is. He would also like to have a mastectomy – but that’s very costly and it will probably take him a long time to save up the money. He says, however, that his girlfriend helps him to feel better about his body, and that he is happy finally being able to take hormones.

Elijah no longer lives in Statesboro, so I share with him on the internet and facebook. I am hopeful that one day he can have a body that more clearly matches his gender identity. But then, as he points out himself, none of us can be totally satisfied with everything about our bodies – and we have to learn to accept some things. And YES, that is the 5th and final A.

Accept your body! There are some things we might change – but there are others we may not. You can probably think of these right now for yourself. Are there some physical activities that you could do at one time, but are now difficult for you? Yeah -- . Well, maybe it just takes a little longer. But in any case, when it comes to our bodies, that serenity prayer of accepting the things we cannot change is valuable. Not only have I learned to accept that my physical abilities are different than they used to be, I also need to accept that my body – no matter how much I exercise – is not going to look like it used to look. And I’ve decided that’s okay.

Recently I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror after stepping out of the tub. And I thought, “You know my body looks like those in those Renaissance paintings. I could join Reuben’s ‘Three Graces’ and fit right in! The women in those Renaissance Paintings had real substance! Yes, (I decided) I’ve become a woman of substance – a Renaissance woman!”

I later shared that revelation with my friend Amelia on the telephone and she responded, “Jane – you have ALWAYS been a Renaissance woman. Your body is just now catching up.”

So how is your report card – Are you making straight A’s on your attitude about your body by:
* Appreciating your body,
* Attending to your body,
* Alleviating pain and suffering,
* Altering your body in when it’s meaningful and healthy, and
* Accepting your body .
Yes, I sing with Ric Masten, “Let your bodies learn to bend”… but I also say, not too far! When it comes to bodies, I join with Reinhold Niebuhr, the author of the Serenity Prayer – and wish for you "the SERENITY to accept the things you cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things that you can, and the WISDOM to know the difference."

May it be so!

Friday, April 1, 2011

You Can Make a Difference!

As you may know, there are several pieces of anti-immigrant legislation under consideration in Georgia – as well as other states. Georgia has been debating whether to join 39 other states that bar undocumented youth from accessing higher education. Thankfully, it looks like this legislation will not come up for a vote this year. Even so, these students must pay the out of state rate which makes it impossible for most to apply. Also, many are impoverished but ineligible for financial aid, scholarships, Pell grants, or the HOPE scholarship. Undocumented youth cannot legally work to help pay for college. These students did not do anything wrong. We can argue about whether or not their parents should have brought them here – but the students themselves have grown up here in Georgia, attending our schools, and having the same dreams as other American students.

Several students in Bulloch County are honor students who will not be able to go to college without a lot of assistance from people who care. I am one of a group of citizens who are determined to try to help them. I became especially convinced of this need after meeting with one of the young ladies in my home. Her dad came here many years ago when he found work painting houses. Then she, her mother and little brother joined him when she was eight years old. She is an outstanding student, maintaining all A’s since the 5th grade and now taking AP courses. She not only does well with her school work, she is an award winning artist and plays the guitar with a singing group for her church. In fact, she will sing in our service this Sunday, April 3. She and three other students have written a description of themselves for us to share with others. Here are their stories.

I am a 17 year old and the oldest of four children. I’ m currently enrolled as a senior at Statesboro High School. With hard work and the encouragement of my parents, I’ve managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. I have been listed on the Principal’s Honor Roll’s List since the 5th grade and in the 8th grade I received an award that was signed by the president of the United States (President Bush). During my junior year I was awarded for the highest grade in American Literature. It was not easy for me to learn English. I worked very hard and I remember the hours and hours it would take to complete my assignments. My mother was always encouraging me. I remember I had a toy that played out the alphabet and that was also very helpful. Now I can speak and write both languages fluently. I want to get a scholarship and fulfill my dream of going to college. I hope to major in either education or dentistry.

I am a senior at Statesboro High School. I have been in the United States since I was five years old. I came to this country with my mother who crossed the border in a truck filled with migrants. I remember the long nights and lots of fear. My parents were separated for a long time by the border. I want to go to college because I want to improve my life. I currently have a 3.7 GPA in school and my dream is to achieve a major in Business. I am particularly good at math because I had a terrific teacher that believed in me. He helped me to see that I could take mathematics at the AP (Advanced Placement) level and still do well. Since then I have been awarded for the highest grade in Accounting and Algebra.

I am 18 years old and I am a senior at Statesboro High School. My biggest dream is to get accepted to college this fall. I want to pursue a major in Business. I am bilingual and I hope to use this skill to help others who can’t understand or speak English. I remember struggling so much in trying to understand English. I was a very little girl when I came to the United States and I was enrolled in school and didn’t know how to ask to use the bathroom. My mother worked with me for hours every night trying to translate my homework assignments. We had to use an English/Spanish Dictionary and translate every word. It was very tiring. Both of my parents are very hard workers but their small salaries don’t earn enough for them to help me to go to college. My GPA is 3.2 and I recently was listed on the Principal’s Honor Roll.

I am 17 years old and a senior at Statesboro High School. I have a 3.32 GPA and consider myself a good and serious student. I put effort in what I do. I came to the United States as at the age of 6. My parents are migrant farm workers and they want more for me and my sister. As I think of the future one of my dreams is to be a teacher. I want to go to college because it will help me become a professional person. I am bilingual and I want to use my language skills to help others. I have been listed on the Honor Roll since Middle School and was name Best Student of the Month. I had the highest average in ESOL during my Freshman Year. I am active in clubs and a community organization named “Students United Against Violence Everywhere.”

These students want to go to college. They need to go to college. We need for them to go to college – to help our society become stronger. A special account has been set up at the Farmers and Merchants bank for contributions. Our board has voted to “Give the Plate Away” to this account on Sunday, April 3. All monies collected that day not designated as a pledge will go to this scholarship fund. If you are writing a check for that day, make it out to UUFS and write “scholarship” in the memo line. If you cannot come that day, but want to be part of this UUFS contribution, mail the check to us with “scholarship” in the memo line and a note indicating that you want it included. Alternatively, you can give directly to the bank. (The account # is 1874195.)

Our faith traditions tell us to love our neighbors and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. You may think you do not have enough to help these students, but our gifts added together can make a difference.

I share with my Unitarian ancestor Edward Hale these values:

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the one thing I can do.