In September 2017, Hurricane Irma hit South Florida. My son Taber ~ who was 6 years old at the time ~ and I drove to Asheville. I had been invited to speak here ~ to lead a workshop on Holding Space for Pregnancy Loss. Little did we know that a weekend workshop would turn into a 3-week traveling adventure due to Hurricane Irma.
During that time, we came to love the Blue Ridge. We nourished friendships and felt a sense of home.
“It’s more gentle here,” Taber said, looking up at the mountains. “There are more trees!” 🙂
We love the wonder of living in tropical lands where wild parrots fly free and mangos grow on trees. We also love snorkeling with bright yellow fish in South Florida. Yet, he was right. There is a gentleness here. And there are more trees.
Amazingly, through many trials and adventures, life did bring us here. Starting in the summer of 2021 ~ we made the move from South Florida to Asheville. Of course, we still visit dear ones in the Sunshine State. We still swim in South Florida oceans. For the human heart is vast and can call many places home.
One place that has been home for my heart since I was 18 ~ over 30 years ago ~ is the Unitarian Universalist tradition. I’ve attended GA, volunteered on committees, taken classes, facilitated classes, and learned so much in this tradition. When he was a few weeks old, Taber was dedicated and blessed by an amazing UU minister ~ Rev. Charles Stephens. This church has been an important religious home.
I love so many things about the UU community ~ not the least of which is that I can still call the LDS tradition home, too. For I was raised Mormon ~ the eldest of 7 in Utah. And while I’m no longer active in the LDS faith, I carry so much of that goodness with me. The love of Jesus, the loyalty of family, and a heart dedicated to service. The UU tradition has always embraced all of me in this regard. I’ve never been asked to leave behind what I knew before finding Unitarian Universalism. I am so grateful for that. For yes, the human heart is vast and can call many religions home.
During our time in Florida ~ I was asked to be the Director of Religious Education and joined the paid staff at our church there ~ UUFBR ~ the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton. For four years, so much of our heart, energy, love, and connection was found in that amazing church. Taber and I have decorated the sanctuary for Christmas, celebrated Passover, recited the covenant, and nourished life long friendships.
Upon moving to Asheville, it was a joy to discover that Rev. Claudia Jimenez was a beloved colleague of Rev. Harris Riordan ~ UUFBR’s minister, and a dear mentor of mine. Upon coming here, I knew I wanted to continue our legacy of connection, service, and commitment. It made perfect sense to volunteer with Religious Education at UUCA.
And so I did.
For the past year, I joined colleagues here in bringing our 6th-8th graders to Baptist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic places of worship. We laughed, talked, shared, meditated, learned, and even prayed with our larger Asheville community drawing from the wisdom of many faith traditions. We have created art together, meditated, debated, discussed, wondered, and shared deep concerns and hopes.
Taber joined RE too ~ learning and growing with his peers and dedicated adult volunteers.
In conclusion, I stand here today to share part of our journey with you. For it is my hope that we can get to know each other as Taber and I nourish our UU roots in the Blue Ridge. I’m also here to encourage you ~ especially those of you who are new ~ who may have found this place due to various hurricanes in life ~ to volunteer with Religious Education.
You’ll find amazing peers to work with, bright and creative children to learn with (and from), and come to more deeply know the truth of how vast the human heart can be.
Amy Wright Glenn