Thursday, January 27, 2011

Share the Laughter; Bare the Pain

Ric Masten’s song, “Let it be a dance” in our hymnbook includes these words – “Share the laughter, bear the pain.” And the word in “bear” in the hymnal is spelled – “b-e-a-r.” But in Ric’s other publications of his song – the word is spelled “b-a-r-e.” I was in communication with Ric back when I was in seminary, and he told me what happened. He decided to make it “b-a-r-e” rather than “b-e-a-r” after hearing one of his earlier listeners to the song, say: “We must learn not to bear (b-e-a-r) the pain – not to keep it bottled up inside. Rather we should bare (b-a-r-e) it – share it, unburden our selves of the sorrow and pain that comes along with life." When the UU hymnal committee asked if they could use his song – with some revisions in the rhythm to make it a little easier to sing, he agreed. And he sent them a copy of it from an earlier publication that had obviously been proofed – but he didn’t comment or call attention to the word “bare”—and he didn’t do that on purpose just to see what would happen. Sure enough, when the proofs came back to him, they had “corrected” his spelling and it was “bear.” Because he had a playful nature – he decided not to correct it. He wrote to me, “That typo has given me the punch line for every concert and reading I've done since then. I even use the “bear/bare” spelling difference when I officiate weddings -- counseling the couple about how the word must be spelled in a successful marriage.”

So that’s the story of the two bears. But you know – I think in the last couple of sermons that I did – we bared and beared enough pain, so “enough said” about that phrase. Today – we are going to “share the laughter.”

I told my son John that I was going to attempt to focus on laughter today and he said – “Mama – how are you going to tell jokes in a UU church – any joke you tell about anything is going to be offensive to SOME one at a UU church.”

And I said --- “I’ll talk about myself and about Unitarian Universalists. That should be funny enough. And in any case – the main point is too laugh – whether anything funny is going on or not!”

Now you may not believe this – but it’s true, that the very ACT of laughing can heal you. I’m not going to share all this research with you – email me, or google it yourself. Instead, I’m going to demonstrate a little laughing yoga with you. We did this one time before here at church – but this is the kind of activity that you should do often, so if you were here before when we did this – be glad that you are here again. Here’s how you do laughing yoga. You just laugh. You don’t have to hear a funny story. You just laugh --- and you will begin to feel the healing. Now I will attempt to facilitate this by at least giving you some stimulation – and demonstrating various ways of laughing and encourage you to join me. Fortunately, laughter is rather catching, – like yawning, so glance around at your neighbors and share the laughter! So relax, shake your hands and let go of your inhibitions – and let’s warm up a little with this laughing yoga. Just repeat after me. (And if you are reading this --- please do these exercises out loud too)
Ha! / Ha, Ha, / etc.

Now, let’s remember back to the days when we were children – or if we can’t remember our own childhoods – we can at least remember seeing children and children laugh – and it’s especially joyful to watch a baby laugh.
Can you laugh like a baby? – just let yourself go, and try it.

Now let’s go to the other end – and laugh like a really old person – and old geezer laugh.

And how about the wicked witch laugh?

Now we need to stand as you are comfortable and take a deep breath, -- so that we can laugh like Santa Claus!

Now imagine someone is tickling you!

Ah, that’s invigorating!

I’ve always enjoyed laughing myself and facilitating laughter with others, too. Well – I say always. My mom says I wasn’t always an outgoing extravert. She says I was extremely shy as a young child. She attributes – or perhaps blames – my personality change on the fact that I was run over by a car when I was three and a half and suffered from a head injury. It did something to me, she said. And yes, since that time, if there is something I can’t do or do differently, she attributes it to that accident. Even now, her friends may say, “Christine – why in the world did Jane write that letter to the editor. How come she turned so liberal?” And Mama says – “well you know she was in that accident when she was 3 and a half.”

Maybe that is what happened to me. In any case, like many of you, I was blessed (or some may say cursed) with a questioning mind.

I’ve shared with you the story before of my dad standing in the “white’s only” line with me at the Dairy Queen when I was about 5. And I asked him why we were in that line and the colored people were in the other line. Well my dad says – “Well, you see Jane – we’re white. So we stand in this line and get vanilla ice cream. And the colored people stand in the other line and get chocolate ice cream.” -- Well you know – I was in that accident --- so I said – “Well, I want chocolate.” And my dad said, “No, you’re white – so you have to have vanilla. That’s just the way it is.” I’d like to think my dad was teaching me a lesson about acceptance of difficult situations – but in reality, I know he was trying to aggravate me – because he licked the curl off of my cone. What kind of dad licks the curl off his little girl’s cone. The same kind that says to her, “Jane, be ashamed – you’ve got ancestors, yes, you do, lots of them.” And when I’d protest, he’d say: “Go ask your mama.” Another one was: “Oh my goodness, Jane – just look at you, you’re covered with garments. You’ve got garments all over you.” And the worst was: “Mmm Mnnnn (wrinkling his nose) – you slumbered in the bed last night.” At least he improved my vocabulary.

And my curiosity and questioning led me to some other things as a child. I wondered what it looked like from the steeple of First Baptist Church. There were no steps. But, I heard that some boys had found out how the custodian got up there once a year to clean the windows and they were going to go. There was a panel in the ceiling of a room behind the baptistery – where they baptized you – at the other end of the sanctuary up on the top floor of the church. And to get to the steeple, you had to go through that panel and then cross over the whole sanctuary to the steeple. Now the attic over the sanctuary wasn’t floored – so you had to walk on a narrow catwalk -- -and they warned that if you fell through the sheetrock – you would fall to your death on the pews below, and wouldn’t that be a sight – so since I was a girl, I could not go with them. And I didn’t go with them…. I went with Jamie Sue, Maureen, and Aris. I also went up into the clock tower of the courthouse and stood behind the clock faces and saw the old big bell. Hey—it was Statesboro in the 1950’s and we had to entertain ourselves someway.

Now, I also became curious about the Bible. And when I was about 12 – I decided to really study it, not just the parts the Sunday school teachers taught us – but all of us. Have you folks read the Bible? If you haven’t – I’ll go ahead and tell you that the main character dies about ¾ of the way through it. So – I found some strange things in that book, things like a donkey that talked (and he spoke English in the Bible that I was reading), and gods that came down and had sex with women (oh god) – and then they gave birth to giants (OH GOD!). Strange stuff indeed. And not just in the Old Testament, in the New Testament there were folks that were dead and came alive – and not just the ones who had just died recently, like Jesus or Lazurus After the crucifixion of Jesus, it said that the graves opened up and the folks came out of them and walked around. Well, I undertook this study at about the time that young folks also begin to think a little more rationally. And it sure didn’t make sense to me. However, I closeted my doubts and disbeliefs enough to get along okay – then finally had the freedom in my late 40’s to come out and be free. And I became a Unitarian Universalist. Hallelujah!

Of course, some of my relatives were worried about me – and one asked, “But are UU’s saved? To which I responded, “We are not LOST – we’re exploring.” Of course that’s a UU joke. And although I’ve studied Unitarian, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists for many years now – I’ve found that there is much truth and understanding that can be found through the jokes made by them and about them. They are not all true – but they hold a glimmer of the truth that we can see in ourselves. So – especially for our new folks who are just learning about UU – I’m going to share some of those jokes and stories with you today.

First for our new folks – just what is this Unitarian – and Universalist – that became Unitarian Universalists? Well, these were originally two different denominations. Rev. Starr King provided a classic explanation of the two back in the 1800s when he said something like: “The difference between Universalists and Unitarians is that Universalists believe that God is too good to damn men, and Unitarians believe that Man is too good to be dammed.”

So – how does a Universalist make holy water? They boil the hell out of it.

As you may know, the Universalists were the ones who preached salvation for all and were therefore none as the “no hell” church. There are actually some little Universalist churches in the rural south – because they did send missionaries with this good news. There was one little town that just had two churches – a Baptist church and a Universalist church. And a visitor ask why two churches were needed in such a small town. A resident replied: That church says, “There ain’t no hell. The other church says, “The hell there ain’t.”

Now the Unitarians were the ones who believed in One God – more or less. The Unitarians were not so much interested in getting people into heaven as they were in getting heaven into people. Anyway – these churches evolved so much that when they decided to join together in 1961, they decided not to have any creed!

One visitor to a UU church asked, “What do you mean, it’s a creedless religion? That means you don’t believe in anything, right?”
“No,” replied the member, “that’s not what it means.”
“So what do you believe in?”
“Well, for one thing, we believe in creedless religion.”

We have to constantly correct folks on these kinds of misunderstandings. One fundamentalist Christian said to her UU neighbor, “I hear you UUs deny the divinity of Jesus Christ.”
The UU responded, “No that’s not true. We don’t deny the divinity of anybody.”

It’s true that we have a diversity of beliefs and ideas within Unitarian Universalism. And that’s okay with us. Like Francis David said, “we do not have to think alike to Love alike.” But it’s problematic for others. A person from one of the mainline churches Christian churches in Stateboro asked, “I hear that you have all sorts of weirdoes in your church, …Atheists, Buddhists, Pagans,….
To which I replied: “Oh yes, we even allow Christians – we’re very open minded.” (That’s a joke – didn’t happen, but I’ll be ready if it does.)

Now after finding Unitarian Universalism, many folks say – “Oh I was a Unitarian Universalist and didn’t even know it.” So maybe we need to put an ad in the paper to help folks find out if they are UUs… kind of like that Jeff Foxworthy fellow who helped folks understand whether or not they were rednecks.

For example,
If you are unsure about the gender of God,
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If you begin your prayers with “To whom it may concern,”
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If you read ahead in the hymnal to see if you agree with the words before singing them:
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If you gave up pot in the 70’s because no one could guarantee it was organic,
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If the vanity plate on your hybrid car reads “Thoreau”
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
Likewise, if you name your child Walden,
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If your teens rebel by becoming more conservative,
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If when you dress for a formal evening out, you wear Birkenstocks,
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If you get Newt Gingrich confused with the Grinch who Stole Christmas,
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If you approach every subject with an open mouth,
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If you’ve ever been in an argument over whether or not breast milk is vegan,
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.
If your children think the holy trinity is “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.”
You might be a Unitarian Universalist.

Yes, our children get a different view of things than those in more conservative religions.
The older neighbor, trying to be helpful, said to one of our little UU girls, “I know you’re sad, but right now your kitty cat is with Jesus.”
To which the child replied, “What would Jesus want with a dead cat?”

And you may have heard the one about the little kid trying to give the kittens away. On the first day, her sign by the box on the road said: “Adorable kittens – Free.” The next day, the child had her box in front of the Methodist Church saying, “Adorable Methodist kittens – Free.” Then she had it in front of the synagogue with a sign that said, “Adorable Jewish Kittens Free. “ And the following Sunday she had them in front of the UU church with a sign saying, “Adorable Unitarian Universalists Kittens. And the minister, questioning her advertising ethics asked her, “Why do you think I’ll believe that all these are UU kittens now, all of a sudden?” “Well,” said the child, “Now they have their eyes opened.”

And here’s a few more:
What do you get when you cross a UU with a Jehovah’s Witness? Somebody who knocks on your door but doesn’t know why she’s there.

Why is Jeapardy the favorite tv game show of UUs? Because you get to guess the QUESTIONS to the answers.

Why did the UU cross the road?
To support the chicken in its search for its own path.

How many UU does it take to screw in a light bulb? I have two answers – one provided by a mature adult UU who said:
“We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your journey, you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb. Present it next month at our annual Light Bulb Sunday Service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.”

And the other response was written by an eighteen year old boy in a rather unsupervised youth group in another city – who responded, “UU’s don’t screw in light bulbs – but check out the sleeping bags in the church basement.”

Okay – I probably went too far with that one, so I’m going to sing a song I found on the internet to make amends. Rebekah is going to help me with this one. You know I mentioned earlier that we are very differing beliefs here at UU. So Rebekah is going to sing the part of Ruby, a young energetic theist, and I are going to sing the part of Betty, a aging humanist.

Use recorded accompaniment of “You are sixteen, I am seventeen” from the Sound of Music.

(Jane Sings)
You are theist I am humanist
I think that you're naive
You have no proof to offer as truth,
You simply say "I believe"

New age bubbles get you in trouble
Lost in a feel-good fluff
True understanding is quite demanding
Praying is not enough.

Totally unprepared are you
To make a case that's plain
Maybe the incense, chants, and drums
Have ruined your poor brain.

You need someone older and wiser
Telling you what to do,
You are theist, I am humanist
I--will think--for you!

(Rebekah Sings)
I am theist, you are humanist
You're locked inside your head.
You're existential, self-referential
Claiming that God is dead,

Occam's razor, Pascal's wager
empty tautology
Wisdom, traditions, not erudition
Make much more sense to me.

Totally unprepared are you
To let go of your mind.
How 'bout a leap of faith, my friend
You might like what you find.

When you find that you're out of answers
You won't know what to do
I am theist, you are humanist,
I -- will pray -- for you.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

"A child is born, the old must die"

(Note to Reader: This sermon is the sixth in the Rev. Jane Page's “Let it be a Dance” series based on phrases from that popular song from our Unitarian Universalist hymnal.)

Ric Masten’s popular UU hymn “Let it be a Dance” includes the words – “A child is born, the old must die.” A perfect illustration of that is seen in those metaphorical figures Father Time and Baby New Year. When one year ends, we represent that as an old bearded man with a cane – waving good-bye, making his exit – so that Baby New Year can take over. And we understand that this is the way it has been from the beginning of time. Stars are born ----and eventually – they will burn out and die and their star dust gives life to something new. Similarly, new cells emerge in our bodies as others die – so it is with all of life. But we’ve evolved with reproduction and survival as strong, primary needs. And that can sometimes present problems.

All of this leads me to what I suppose is a statement of the main message of this sermon – and it’s one that may be somewhat controversial. Some of you may agree with this message and others may not. And that’s okay – because we are Unitarian Universalists and as the Unitarian martyr Francis David said, “We do not have to think alike to love alike.”

So here it is:

Human beings must stop having so many babies and stop the insanity of prolonging life no matter what.

Fortunately, much of the world has caught on to the idea of limiting births. But we are not there yet. Here’s a quote from a December 2010 report published by the population institute.

“Currently some 6.8 billion people inhabit the Earth. Scientists estimate that by 2050 that number will rise to 9 billion before leveling out. Environmentalists say that overpopulation is leading to worsening climate change, unsustainable resource use, mass extinction, deforestation, pollution, and food and water shortages.”

Now of course, you can also find information on the internet which says that we don’t have to worry – that if we just use more nuclear energy, etc., everything will be all right and that our earth CAN support a population of up to 15 billion. But that’s just one retired scientist with a blog – and frankly, although he *could* be right, I don’t see us moving in that direction anyway, and I’d prefer to err on the side of those hoping for population limits – just in case.

One big problem we face is feeding people.
According to a recent International Food Policy Research Institute report:
The challenge of reaching sustainable food security and delivering on it through 2050 is daunting. Our starting point, in 2010, is a world with unacceptable levels of poverty and deprivation, as is clear from the 2010 report on the Millennium Development Goals. Progress will be made more difficult by two looming challenges: a growing world population and increasingly negative productivity effects from climate change.
(Food Security, Farming, and Climate Change:  Scenarios, Results, and Policy Options)
While food production kept pace with, and at times exceeded, population growth in the last century, satisfying the world’s demand for food is getting tougher and tougher. The report warns that higher food prices are here to stay and they provide some specific data to back this up. Now, of course, this analysis and these predictions by this research institute could be wrong. The experts have a lot of difficulty predicting things like this. This was noted by the Population Institute in their December 2010 report.
Ten years ago, many experts were confident that we could, by 2015, reduce the number of chronically hungry people in the world by half, but last year the number of hungry people in the world crossed the one billion mark for the first time in history.  Four years ago, virtually no one was predicting that the prices of corn and wheat would double in the next two years, and that rice prices would triple, but they did. In June of this year, with ample food reserves, no one was anticipating that wheat and corn prices would jump by 50 percent or more in the next four months, but they did.

Another huge problem with population growth is clean water and air. While some Green organizations like “Friends of the Earth” and “Greenpeace” steer away from the population factor because it is controversial, the Sierra Club makes no bones about their stance on this. They provide some pretty heavy data about this and then state:

"All of our environmental successes may be short-lived if they do not include efforts to address population growth."

So – what can we do?

The United Nations Population Fund estimates that it would cost just $3.6 billion a year more to provide family planning services to the estimated 215 million women in the world who want to avoid a pregnancy, but who are not using a modern method of birth control. So making more efforts to fund that (rather than wars) would be a start.

And of course, we ourselves need to continue, I believe, limiting births here in the United States. Then perhaps we wouldn’t be so concerned about folks immigrating here. Now you say – but we Americans are not the ones having way too many babies. Perhaps not – but our babies are the ones who grow up to use up way too many of the world’s resources leaving huge carbon footprints. And if we are not going to do a better job with pre-natal care, then our babies are going to be having lots of difficulties too.

Another reason I’m bringing this up is my concern of our glorification on television of returning to large families. Reality shows like “Kate plus Eight” and “Nineteen and Counting” – make big stars out of large families. And shows like “16 and Pregnant” -- while showing some of the difficulties of young pregnancy – also tend to make it seem like others CAN make it and be happy – so, you don’t have to worry too much about abstaining or using birth control. (And yes, I’ve seen all of these shows once or twice – which is MORE than enough.)

Of course¸ I have lots of difficulties with the way China has implemented its limitation policy, But, I’m certainly understandable of the need to do something. Now I recently stated the idea to a family member that we ought to limit births – even in the United States. And she AGREED – but added – unless you can afford a large family. So – her idea (and probably many folks would agree) is that if you are poor – you should have these limits placed on you, but if you are rich – you can have all the children you want because you don’t have to have food stamps, etc. I politely disagreed with her – because the rich family still has all their kids – and then the multiplied grandkids, etc. using our highways, polluting our air, needing our public services, etc. They ARE a cost to our society. And, it would only be FAIR to limit everyone.

Now I know that this is an extreme position and will probably NOT happen. But, we could at least have INCENTIVES for limiting births or undergoing sterilization procedures after having the babies you want – hopefully just a couple. At the very least, sterilization should be FREE and easy to access.

I knew after I had two children that two was enough for me. And I would like to be able to tell you that it was because of all these concerns I’m lifting up today. But basically – it was because I knew of my own limitations. Well, I had a hard time finding a doctor who would do my tubal ligation – simply because I was in my twenties. And some of my family members gave me a hard time. My grandmamma told me that I might change my mind and want more – or that something might happen to one of mine – then I’d want another. I don’t think so!! And then there were those who asked, “But, don’t you want a little girl?” “Well, yeah – but I’m not going to keep having boys till I get one!” This was back in the70’s – but you hear the same kinds of things today.

SO --- While I love that we have these wonderful children here – and I love my grandsons – and enjoy rocking all your babies, I’m just sayin….. You know? Let’s begin to lift up the goodness and value of limiting childbirths – instead of heralding the family with 19 children.

So a Child is born – hallelujah! And what is that other part of Masten’s phrase? “The old must die.” Now I know I need to be careful with this. There are those here who may be dealing with terminal illnesses with family members or even yourself. And all end-of-life discussions can be painful. So, I need for you to know that it is not my intention to stimulate any frustration or anxiety for you related to this subject. But I sort of made a pact with the Divine within me – that I would follow through with these topics that I listed from Masten’s song this year – and see where they led me. And this particular phrase leads me… to lift up our need to let go of life – for our loved ones and ourselves. Now I know this may be easy for ME to say now – standing up here relatively healthy. And I may well change my mind when I feel death closing in on me. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if I didn’t feel differently since we are SO programmed to survive. But I surely hope that I can be like the Rev. Forrest Church who died in September 2009, – and be content with my death. If you were here in 2008, you may remember the sermon I did based on his book on “Love and Death.” It’s online if you missed it. Here are a couple of quotes from Forrest Church that I especially like.

"The one thing that can never be taken from us, even by death, is the love we give away before we die."
And 2nd,
"The purpose of life is to live in such a way that our lives will prove worth dying for."

I believe it is necessary for us to start educating ourselves and others to think in these terms of accepting and embracing death– rather than grasping at the idea of finding any way possible to stay alive.

About a week ago, I saw part of a documentary on CNN called, “Cheating Death.” And it was about a special group of folks who had died with heart attacks -- -but who had been brought back to life. One of the folks they interviewed was in a situation where her heart had stopped for 56 minutes – with people continually trying to bring her back with the defibrillator at her work site and then with shocking her heart in the hospital emergency room. The emergency room doctor said, “We’ll try three more times.” Then the next one worked. And this woman seemed to be fine. But she was certainly the exception – in that MOST people doctors brought back after that length of time would have severe brain damage. Yet that doctor kept trying? Why? And another doctor said that even though he eventually quits, he thinks – “you know, ten years from now, I probably could have saved him.” What is this emphasis on keeping folks alive – even at the extreme risk of brain damage? Sange Gupta asked the woman what message she would give folks from her experience, and she said, “Never give up. Never, never give up.” Really?

Maybe part of the problem is with our vocabulary around death and the end of life. We don’t like to “give up.” We’re Americans. We’re in a battle with death and we have to WIN. And I do understand the need to have a positive view of outcomes when you are treating disease. But, if we are viewing death as an enemy – then yes, of course we are not supposed to give up. But death is not my enemy. Hopefully she will be my last good friend. My bff.

I am so glad that many folks are now completing advanced directives and living wills and accepting hospice care – where health care professionals provide services that address the symptoms of end of life issues and provide comfort – rather than trying to cure you. My dad was under hospice care when he died, and I’m very grateful. But he should have been under their care a whole lot earlier. I mean – the doctors were still going to some pretty unusual lengths to keep his heart working as well as possible -- even after he had advanced Alzheimer’s. I think my mom would have opted for hospice for my dad earlier – but it wasn’t brought up as an option by the doctors. And my mom basically followed the direction of the doctor. Finally, after they had to switch doctors because my dad’s primary physician moved, the new doctor asked my mom, “What are your goals for your husband? What are you hoping for? “She responded – “I’d just like him to be as comfortable as he can.” And the doctor said, “Then you need to consider hospice care,” – and explained it to her. Now my mom KNEW something about hospice – but I think she would have felt guilty bringing it up herself. She NEEDED for a doctor to initiate these end of life issues with her. And that is why I was so glad to hear that the “end-of life counseling” part of Obama’s original health care plan (referred to by Sarah Palin as “death panels”) had been re-established by the administration’s new ground rules for annual Medicare check-ups. WAIT --- HOLD THE PRESSES! While I was working on this sermon Wednesday night – that changed. I went on the web to check my facts – and low and behold I read the following that had just been posted to the Washington Times page:

“Reversing a politically delicate decision, the Obama administration will drop references to so-called "end-of-life" counseling from the ground rules for Medicare’s new annual checkup, the White House said Wednesday.”

I’ve decided not to share the words that actually came out of my mouth at that time.

Now please know – I have no problem with the idea that people are trying to be healthy – and that coupled with good medical practices means that people ARE living longer. I delight in being around folks like my 91 year old friend, Roxie Remley – who still drives herself to plays and art exhibits, and enjoys traveling and producing new art work. How wonderful! And thankfully Roxie retired under Georgia’s Teachers Retirement System – so she’s going to get her check each month. But a new problem we are facing with living longer now – and this is a special concern with all of those in my generation – is that you will outlive the money you may have been planning on using for your retirement years. And that the current entitlements that older folks depend on – may not be there for you. So – if we are going to continue to encourage this idea that medical science find ways to help folks live on and on and on, we are going to need to address the question of where those supportive resources are going to come from. I don’t have answers to this – I’m just saying, we can’t have our cake and eat it too.

But living long, healthy, lives is not my primary concern – it’s living long lives with lots of pain and struggle and great sorrow for both you and your family members.

Now while, I’m sticking my neck out, I’ll go ahead and put it right on the chopping block for some of you and say: I am totally supportive of not only of assisted suicide, but also of euthanasia when the individual is not capable of carrying this out themselves, but has expressed this possibility in a legal document or to their power of attorney, if they even have those capabilities. Oregon now has legal assisted suicide using prescribed medication for that purpose. But my understanding from reading up on this is that it sometimes takes as long as 11 hours to die after you take this prescribed medication. What’s up with that? I KNOW it can be done quickly in the right way. I’ve witnessed that – and so have some of you. I had the experience of being with my son John and his dog, Welcome, at her last visit to the veterinarian. And some of you may have read my October newsletter article or blog about this. It included these recollections:

John and I shared our love with Welcome as the doctor administered the sacred, wondrous medication that would take her so gently and quickly away. And I sang one of our favorite UU songs: “Go now in peace, go now in peace. May the spirit of love surround you, everywhere, everywhere, you may go.” And she was gone.

And my last statement in that article was this:

I am so very grateful that we were able to allow Welcome to have this welcome relief and not suffer anymore. Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be as humane with our human family members? May it one day be so!

Ric Masten said: “A child is born, the old must die.” Similarly, in days of old, the teacher from Ecclesiastes reminded his students of these inevitabilities. He wrote: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven! “ -- Then listed the possibilities, and the first thing listed was ….

“A time to be born, and a time to die.”

And what about between those two sacred moments?
Let it be a dance we do, May I have this dance with you,
In the good times and the bad times too,
Let it be a dance!