Sedona Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

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SUUF Spiritual Reflection

Sunday Morning April 12, 2020 from Rev. Glenn

Link to Virtual SUUF Easter Sunday 4/12/2020

Text of Service

Welcome to the Virtual Service of Celebration of the Sedona Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. I am the Rev. Glenn Farley.

Our usual practice is to gather each Sunday morning, gather in peace and fellowship. Given that we are in the midst of a Global Pandemic, the best way we can love and serve each other, our neighbors and ourselves is to physically distance.

This situation has led to many witty retorts. I came across this internet meme this past week:

[Image coming later]

That is cute. It gave me a chuckle. And the reality is, our current situation is a great loss. We lost our core religious practice, rather suddenly, four weeks ago. It is a loss.

I miss you. I miss the smiles and the hugs during Greet-Your-Neighbor and Coffee Hour.


I will begin our virtual Easter Service by reading a poem by the Unitarian poet e.e. cummings that I recite every Easter service at Sedona UU.

i thank You God for most this amazing day
– e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings; and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any - lifted from the no
of all nothing - human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

This poem is spoken in many UU congregation on Easter Sunday.

Lighting the Chalice
Easter Sunday Reflection April 12, 2020

I really enjoy bright pastel colors. I enjoy wearing them as clothing…and the Easter season is good for that.

If anyone looks at you funny for wearing bright pink, you can just respond with a;
“Hey! It’s Easter!”

Serene Jones is a pastor, theologian, professor and President of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She was interviewed by Nicholas Kristof last year in the New York Times. The interview was right around Easter time 2019 so that came up in their conversation. Rev. Dr. Jones focused on the metaphorical and symbolic meanings of Easter. She said:

“the message of Easter is that love is stronger than life or death…
that empty tomb symbolizes that the ultimate love in our lives cannot be crucified and killed…
what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering.”

- Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary in NYC
Quoted in the New York Times in an interview with Opinion Columnist Nicholas Kristof April 20, 2019.

We, as a community, as a country, throughout the world, are in the midst of suffering.

A few years back when I began getting into Aerial Silks here in Sedona, I was curious as to who first came up with the idea of hanging things from the ceiling and climbing up them and dancing in the air…?!

So I purchased a book on the topic; it was written by a young women who went around to all the early pioneers of aerial dance and interviewed them, roughly each chapter of the book was an interview with a different aerial dance pioneer. Nearly all of them were women.

One of the early chapters was entitled Terry Sendgraff, subtitle, Matriarch of Aerial Dance.

Terry Sendgraff developed her vision of aerial dance, which she called motility, with low hanging trapezes. She developed it in the 1970s in the San Francisco Bay area. She did over 300 different shows/dances over her lifetime.

Ms. Sendgraff has a training background in classical dance, ballet & modern, gymnastics, and circus arts. She was trained in the flying trapeze when she was young but it wasn’t for her. It was so high up! 40ft in the air. She wanted to be in the air, but she wanted to dance in the air, not do tricks. That was her artistic vision.

She was teaching dance and gymnastics at Arizona State University (ASU) in 1969-1970. She had this vision of dancing in the air that wanted being fulfilling by her ground dancing or the circus arts of the time.

She shares her vision and her frustration with an art professor at ASU, John Waddell. And {it is written in this book} Professor John Waddell is adamant in his support for her and her artistic vision. You got to do it. You must follow it.

Full encouragement for her artistic vision, in an artistic performance genre that didn’t exist.

Terry Sendgraff does end up following her artistic vision. The very next year, 1971, she moves to the San Francisco Bay area and opens her own studio, trains others, performs and creates over 300 aerial dances over the ensuing decades.

Terry Sendgraff had many influences in her work. Was that encouragement from John Waddell important to her? Well, it was important enough for her to bring it up in an interview 35+ years later.

In 1970, Aerial dance was an idea in her mind; not something in reality.

In the 1990’s when Cirque du Soleil became a household name, and in the 2000s when Hollywood and Pop Stars began performing aerial acts at awards shows and rock concerts, the aerial arts became very real, and very widespread.

Today, in big cities and small towns across the country, pre-teen girls as well as adults, engage in aerial arts. It is a great confidence booster, helps builds self-esteem for young people. Imagine how strong your upper body would get essentially climbing a rope for an hour twice a week? Very strong!

Terry Sendgraff, the matriarch of Aerial Dance, died last year, August 2019, at age 85.

John Waddell, member of this congregation, died last November, the day before Thanksgiving, age 98.

They died, as we all will die someday.
They died, and their love lives on.
Love lives on through their encouragement of a young person.
Love lives on through their artistic expression.
Love lives on through their family and friends who’s hearts they touched.

Love is stronger than Death.
Love wins.

“Art should try to go beyond self-expression, and it’s hard. Beyond is some universal statement that is not related to the self. For years I wrote articles in art education stressing the value of self-expression then I looked at these articles and then I realized I was trying to go beyond that. I was right that self-expression was valuable, but wrong that it was the end.” – John Henry Waddell

“A culture that encourages each person to develop their unique abilities as far as they can be is a superior culture.” – John Henry Waddell

Glenn at Waddell

“We are visual philosophers, two and three dimensional philosophers. We are continuing the tradition of working with the human form. Humanistic development is what I am concerned with. It keeps the candle burning in the dark ages.” – John Henry Waddell

Note on Photograph
Years ago I was touring the grounds of the Waddell Ranch, admiring the bronze sculptures. With this one, I attempted to get into a similar posture as the bronze figure as the photograph was taken. The Arizona sun was so bright and strong that day my eyed are tightly shut.
Seemed to me an appropriate photograph to share for Easter, as I reflected on John Waddell’s love living on, and how Winter is turning into Spring.

Final Note: Please remember to return your pledge forms to
SUUF Treasurer Tracy Young

The Pledge Drive deadline in next Sunday, April 19th, 2020.
Usually we share friendly reminders each Sunday during the pledge drive, but this haven’t been usual times.

There is an MP3 of SUUF musician Susannah Martin singing “Wouldn’t it be Loverly”
Attached to the e-mail of this service for you to listen to as you fill out your pledge drive forms. She is singing it with quite the accent, so be sure to check it out!

Benediction and Extinguishing of Chalice

We Are One
Chalice Extinguishing By UU Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Never has it been more true than now:
We extinguish this flame,
But the sparks within us remain alight.
From each of us, in our supposed solitude,
The signals buzz and hum, sparkling through space one to another,
Connecting us invisibly
But palpably.

We are one.
And from every window,
Our light shines.