The Purpose of Joy in the Midst of Turmoil

The Purpose of Joy in the Midst of Turmoil

Recently I have been struggling to celebrate and find joy when it feels like the world is falling apart, when there is too much to mourn on this little blue speck. It seems I have lost some of my emotional elasticity.  I can’t move from fear, and grief, and outrage to amusement and joy so easily. Maybe this is just what being in your mid-thirties is like. Maybe it has something to do with an infinitely more connected world that our brains originally evolved to process. Whatever the reason, I am wearied by the constant need to feel all there is to feel about our world, and be present to the very real things I can do anything about. Yesterday I was at another rally for Mission Nurses United, who are still bargaining for a fair contract from HCA.

Tomorrow, I begin travels for the rest of June, heading west to attend two weddings: my brother’s as well as two close friends. I love weddings! I love the anticipation, the rituals and decor, and I love the celebration. And I love dancing! Dancing for me is giving over to joy in a way that feels effervescent and that connects me deeply to the divine spark of life. And, while we are dancing and celebrating, we are staring down a scary election in the United States. Then there are the ongoing wars in Palestine and Ukraine and Sudan. And there’s the Asheville housing crisis. And… It gets hard to feel all of it at the same time. But this is the case all the time and not just when the facts themselves are overwhelming (i.e. dancing at a wedding while there’s war on the other side of the world).

We don’t even have to go as big as the whole of earth. There are enough people in our community for us to always have reason to celebrate and reason to mourn, reason to rest, and reason to stand on the corner and shout. So then why rest or celebrate when the mourning and shouting feels so much more pressing? Because we burn out if we don’t rest, our anger boils dry without joy and love in our lives. Or at least it does for me.

That is joy’s purpose for me. When I feel the rough and ragged edges of my own emotions, it is a time to weave in threads of love and hope. It is time to store-up that love and hope, letting it feed my own strength and stamina. I hope that the effervescent joy and love of my dancing allows me to march that much longer and to shout that much louder when the time inevitably comes. And I hope that it may be true for you as well.

Trevor Johnson

Connections Coordinator

2024-25 Religious Exploration is Now Open!

2024-25 Religious Exploration is Now Open!

I’m pleased to let you know that registration for our 2024-25 year is open! I know it seems a little soon, but doing this early is tremendously helpful for us as we plan for the coming year. You can find out what we’re planning to offer, including info about Coming of Age and OWL in the registration form, which you can find here: https://forms.gle/3nSCY45qnjDcwE6E6 We can’t wait for another year of exploring and learning with you all!

Banned Book Summer is underway! Most Sundays this summer we will explore a book that has been banned or challenged. We’ll have our chalice lighting and check in, followed by a story and discussion and an art project!

This summer we are exploring banned and challenged children’s books at UU Asheville. The idea for this came from a Worship service offered by Rev. Audette that you can find here! I was inspired by this service to spend the summer exploring banned and challenged children’s books with our children. Since then, I have learned a lot about the conservative book banning movement in this country. There are coordinated efforts by groups all over the country to ban any books that deal with race, equity, difficult truths about history, gender, LGBTQ+ history, sex, perceived “witch craft” (the beloved Strega Nona!) and other important topics. Many parents and non parents who are calling for the banning of books have been provided with lists of books from these outside organizations. In most cases, the people calling for the banning of books have not actually read the books. In many cases, the books with “sensational” material that they read out loud at school board and library board meetings are not even in the libraries that they seek to ban it from. You can read more about this movement here.

We love to learn here and we have some big ideas about how people should have access to information in order to make up their own minds about things. We also believe in listening to people’s lived experiences in order to understand the world more fully.

In faith, Kim Collins LRE