Woods Working: “Re-Empowering Our Selves and Our Communities”

On Sunday, August 4 at 6:04 am, I awakened from a nightmare in which I was in the center of the chaos of a mass shooting: people running everywhere, semi-automatic shots rapidly being fired, no sense of direction to go or what to do.

Once truly awake, I began to process the emotions I experienced. They were confusing. The dream triggered my fear of being killed or maimed, my sense of powerlessness from abuse I experienced before I was two years old, and the awareness that my spirit demands that I learn from this.

I turned to meditation, moving through a series emotional releases, and discovering how I disempower myself. Some of you may recognize this sequence of emotional reactions. Others, not so much.

By the time I was ready to get out of bed and walk the dogs, I found deeper connection with my Source that assuaged my grief and frustration over my own inaction about gun violence. I know my reactions have been sporadic and have not had much impact. This is not just about guns, this is more about coarseness of language, openness to hatred and physical and verbal violence, and inability to  connect more deeply with the precious web of Life.

By the time I was ready to go to church and celebrate Lammas with the UU Fellowship of Redwood City, led by Kathy Warne and Jorie Schulz, I learned about the mass shooting not more than eight hours prior in Dayton, Ohio, a town I often drove through on my trips from Detroit, Michigan to and from the Jersey shore for holidays. This was not the first time I had somehow become psychically centered in a deep communal trauma, but it was surely the most productive in offering me energy for further effective response.

I arranged to light a candle and share my experience of the dream and the outcomes. Jorie and Kathy had already planned to do that, but graciously deferred to my deep emotional investment. I am grateful.

My message briefly: I believe we all can and should let go of the fear, anger, and sense of powerlessness that plagues us from the traumas of the past, through deeper spiritual connection to our own inner-knowing and effective release work. We can also join forces with one another around the social justice that needs to be done, committing to focusing on one or two issues for which we have our deepest inner calling and move forward together to “become the change we wish to see in the world.”

I am committing to focus upon Climate Change and more effective responses to violence and trauma in its many forms. I don’t expect all of you to choose these, but I am hoping you will find the “power-from-within” you so truly possess and use it for your own good and that of all of Life. There will be many opportunities to do this work with others from this congregation, beginning with Saturday morning classes on The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren and the deep inner work of “Healing the Compassionate Heart,” guided by the training I had from Suzanne Scurlock – Durana. I hope you will join me for the “value-added” programs for this new church year, during which your Ministerial Search Committee will be seeking and finding your next Parish Minister.

Bright Blessings for a more self-aware and powerful future,

Gretchen Woods, AIM