<![CDATA[UUCGV - Blog]]>Wed, 07 Feb 2018 14:30:46 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Revelations ~ February 2018]]>Sun, 04 Feb 2018 16:15:09 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/revelations-february-2018Picture
This is a monthly column helping us to get to know our friends and members in a deeper way. We thank Monte High for taking the time to do these in-depth interviews for our newsletter.
     It is the Christmas break of his senior year of high school. He is 18 years old. He is on his way to pick up his buddy and it’s early enough that there are only a few tire tracks through the 6 inches of fresh snow. The storm blew off in the early morning and it is frigid cold, the snow squeaking under the tires as he drives. Despite the cold and the early hour he is in a particularly good mood, excited for the prospects of the morning. You see, there aren’t many things he’d rather be doing – he’s off on a hunting adventure.
     He pulls over and his friend opens the back door to place his gun in the backseat before getting into the front seat. His friend shoots a 12-gauge because he likes the extra power and the slightly bigger shot pattern, but the boy prefers his 20-gauge semi-automatic shotgun because it’s lighter and easier to handle. He likes the way the 20-gauge feels in his hands as he’s able to balance, swing and shoot with ease. He is a very good shot. He’s been hunting with a shotgun since he was 12 years old.
     It’s a short drive as Totten Lake is only a few miles out of Cortez, out amongst the sagebrush and pinion of the foothills. He parks above the lake facing toward their destination. They can see the lake in front of them but not the cove on the far side where they’re headed. Before them is a steep embankment down to the lake and then a small ridge. On the other side is the cove where they hope the ducks will be huddled down in the cold, about a mile and a half away.
     The boys grab their guns and work their way slowly down the steep hillside, weaving through the pinion trees. At the bottom they walk the shoreline up to the inlet and up a ways further to where the creek narrows and they can find a place to cross. Then they’re off, trudging through the snow-covered sagebrush and jackrabbit trails, and then climbing the ridge and finally peeking over to the back cove of Totten Lake. The back cove is completely frozen over but the middle of the lake is still open water. And the ducks are right where they thought they’d be, huddled on the bank at the edge of the lake. And there are a lot of them, hundreds, at least three flocks, judging by the different sized dots that they see in the distance. Holy Cow! Big, big eyes on the boys. It’s hard to contain their excitement.
     Everything is in their favor. A  breeze is blowing in their face, the snow will further muffle the sound and the ducks won’t want to fly into the cold. Okay, here’s the plan. We’ll walk around and down the ridge away from the lake and then circle back, and the last 200 yards or so we’ll scramble up in an army crawl on our knees and elbows. The brush and willows along the lake provide enough cover even in winter to hide our approach. We should be able to get within 25 yards.
     Side-by-side lying in the snow with their heads down the boys remove the gloves from their right hand and then rise in unison, flicking off the safety as they bring up their guns ready to fire. Ducks fill the horizon. A flurry of wings – ducks, and more ducks – nothing but ducks. Aim and fire, aim and fire, aim and fire. Three shots each. Ten ducks down. Jubilation!
     But there is a dilemma. One of the ducks must’ve been a headshot because it managed to fly about 100 yards out onto the lake before it died, and fell, onto the ice. The boy knows that it’s a silly risk, that the ice is thin. Yet, he cannot bear the thought of leaving the duck to go to waste. So treading carefully, he begins to walk up the cove of ice, the ice getting thinner the closer he gets to the open water on the main body of the lake. He’s about 10 feet away from the duck when the ice begins to crack from his feet extending outward. He watches in shock as the cracks extend outward in all directions to about 10 feet until he plunges through the ice into the frigid water. Fortunately the water only comes up to his shoulders. He tries to reach up and pull himself up onto the ice, but the ice is too thin and it breaks with each attempt. And the bank is so far away it may as well be on the other side of the world. The boy knows about hypothermia. He knows that he doesn’t have much time before his limbs will go numb and he will be unable to move. Adrenaline flows through him and with a wild urgency he jumps up and cracks his shins against the ice. Again and again he jumps to crack his shins against the ice, breaking a trail through the ice until he is far enough into the shallower water that he can roll over onto the ice – and run. He runs to his buddy and tells him to grab the guns and the ducks and follow and he keeps running up and over the ridge and through the sagebrush and leaping over the inlet and scrambling up the steep hillside to the car and he starts the car and he strips down to pants and T-shirt and socks and he cranks the heater and he races the car around and around the parking lot to warm the engine faster until his buddy arrives – and he’s alive! He is overcome with an immense sense of relief.
     He is alive but he is blue coming through the front door and his mother is alarmed and urging a hot bath, and the bath stings – O the pins and needles his body is on fire – and as the numbness leaves his gouged and bloody shins the pain sears and sizzles in his brain. The bruises will eventually surface – the full-length of his shins a black and blue that will fade after a few weeks to yellow-green. The scabs will sting until they become a maddening itch. The scars on his shins will slowly fade away in about 25 years.
     This is one of my favorite stories. After telling it numerous times over the years it became a humorous tale of a fool and hero who compromised and saved his own life. Putting it down on paper and paying attention to detail placed me into the heart of the memory, into the moment. I had forgotten how traumatic this experience truly was. It also brought back my state of mind during this period of my life. I was at that stage when you’re expected to choose what it is you want to do for the rest of your life. I did not know, and the pressure of this seemed overwhelming. And first love had recently come and gone like a big bang implosion that rocked me to my very core. It’s so easy for a man (boy) to tuck his heart away because the pain is too much to contain.
     My name is Roy Lamont High, though I’ve mostly been called Monte since I was a baby. I was born on August 2, 1963. I was born in Cambridge, Nebraska, because Indianola didn’t have a hospital. Mom and Dad were married four years earlier – Mom was 16, Dad 21. Mom finished her final year of high school after they were married. 2 ½ years after I was born my brother Kyle followed. (14 years after that my brother Anthony came along – an unexpected blessing!) The family moved from Indianola to Pierre, South Dakota, when I was three years old, when Dad got a job working for the Bureau of Reclamation. We moved – a lot – whenever a project finished up or Dad got a promotion. Very small towns (under 1000 population) in Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota – Indianola, O’Neill, Pierre, Harvey, Fessenden, Underwood – and then slightly larger small towns of Sioux Falls, SD, Yuma, Arizona and finally to Cortez, Colorado for my senior year of high school.
     I practically came out of the womb playing sports. I reveled in sport – the immediacy brought me wholly into the present moment. (Mom gifted me the love of dance, but dancing was not valued in the world of boys. Dancing was a secret love.) I played mostly football, basketball and baseball, yet also track and golf and swimming – I loved the water. Dad coached our Little League teams. When it was time for dinner Mom would often find my brother Kyle and I running around with a bunch of boys chasing a ball, in the backyard, or on the driveway, or a vacant lot or the middle of the street. We roamed the outskirts of town with our BB guns and I particularly liked swimming (and jumping off the bridge) in the canal where we were forbidden to swim because it was too dangerous.
     This question was put to me several years back: if you had a time machine that could take you back to October 10, 1983 – to that day when you were driving down a small winding highway between Dolores and Cortez, would you put on your blinker and pull your little Audi Fox sports car over to the side of the road before that last fateful curve in the road? My answer is no, I would not. Unless I could keep all of the knowledge and “selfness” that I gained from the experience. I am who I am and I am a beautiful man. Yes I am.
     I was driving at dusk when five horses ran out onto the highway in front of me. Two of the horses collided with my vehicle, collapsing the roof down on top of me – trapping me within. It would take chainsaws to cut and a big winch called the “jaws of life” to pry me out. But I was paralyzed from the neck down, without bodily sensation or movement – trapped within, without a special machine to get me out. The paramedics carried me to the ambulance on a gurney.
     I could give you all of the unnerving details, but today the story is requesting to be told more purely through poetry. The horses, escaped from captivity, unfenced, running wild and free. Exhilarated, stretched out and running headlong into the great pasture in the sky. The Jaws of Life reach down to spare my life. The celestial pallbearers lift me up and carry me down the road to meet the Teacher, on a sacred path of rebirth.
     The Teacher encourages me to seek truth. The Teacher encourages me to feel pain. Be still. Be still and know that I am God. Take a journey within. Adventure inward, open your heart and discover what you need, what you need, what you need to be happy. And don’t allow your wanting to get in the way.
     I am a beautiful man. I have a beautiful wife – my lover and besty life companion, wonder woman Elizabeth. I have the nourishing UUCGV community and all of my wonderfully peculiar friends. I have the wonder of the world – a sense of wonder. I am happy, and I am living a beautiful life.
     My life flows on...     in endless song...
PS – I was planning on revealing that the end to all of the previous newsletter articles – “Life goes on...  in endless song...” – is referring to hymn number 108 in the gray hymnal. After looking up the hymn I discovered that I’ve been printing it wrong all this time. It is not “life goes on; it is life flows on. My regret runs deeper than the simple mistake because “flows” fits my theme much better than “goes”. My favorite line of verse from the hymn “My Life Flows on in Endless Song” is “through the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing”. Yes indeed my friends, “how can I keep from singing”?
Roy Lamont High, the Earl of Monte

<![CDATA[Pacific Western Region Assembly]]>Sun, 07 Jan 2018 19:19:13 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/pacific-western-region-assembly     Plan to join attendees from 185 PWR congregations as the four districts of the Pacific Western Region convene in Portland, Oregon, April 27-29, for the 2018 Regional Assembly. Three dynamic speakers will address the theme, Stories of Hope, Courage, Resistance, and Resilience. The Rev. Dr. William Barber, a national figure in civil rights activism, will be in the pulpit for Sunday’s worship service. Saturday’s keynote speaker will be Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian-American woman to be elected to U.S. Congress. Jayapal has spent the last twenty years working internationally and domestically as a leading advocate for women’s, immigrant, civil, and human rights. The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA president, will speak at Friday evening’s opening ceremony. Frederick-Gray will share her emerging vision for the future of the UUA and the wider movement.
Several workshops will be offered during Saturday’s programming. If you prefer, you may opt to participate in a local social justice activity. Full details about workshops and the social justice activity will soon be posted on the Pacific Western Region website (www.uua.org/pwr).
     All four districts of the Pacific Western Region will hold concurrent annual meetings on Saturday afternoon. Meeting materials and delegate information will be distributed in February/March.
     If you are a minister, religious educator, or music director you will want to attend the day-long Professional Day activities on Friday, April 27. Rev. Erika Hewitt, UUA staff Minister of Worship Arts, and Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, Director of Worship and Music at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, will be presenting a workshop for religious professionals on multi-generational, multicultural worship. In addition, the Revs. Elizabeth Stevens, Emily Brault, and Susan Maginn will be presenting “From Burden to Blessing: Working with Secondary Trauma” for community-based ministers. Professional Day programming will be held at First Unitarian Church of Portland prior to the start of Regional Assembly. Registration for Friday’s Professional Day will be available via the Regional Assembly registration form.
     Regional Assembly registration will be open by January 4. You will be able to access full details and the registration form through the Pacific Western Region website (www.uua.org/pwr).
     The Portland DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, site of the Regional Assembly, is offering discounted room rates through March 29. If you book through another link or by phone, be sure to use the group code, UU8. Full details will be posted on the PWR website before registration opens January 4.
     PWR staff is working hard to keep registration costs low. An Early Bird adult registration fee will be available through January 31 and fees for young adults, youth, and children will be discounted. Still, could your congregation consider either subsidizing or fully funding the costs for at least one person to attend Regional Assembly? What a great opportunity for someone identified as a potential leader in your congregation!
     Be sure to check the PWR website (www.uua.org/pwr) after the first of the year for full Regional Assembly details.
<![CDATA[Revelations ~ December 2017]]>Sun, 03 Dec 2017 21:30:03 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/revelations-december-2017Picture
This is a monthly column helping us to get to know our friends and members in a deeper way. We thank Monte High for taking the time to do these in-depth interviews for our newsletter.
     Imagine three little girls, sisters, playing “Office” – insurance office, to be more specific. Budding feminist professionals at heart, before they even understood the concept of feminism. They each had a little desk, or station, with paperwork that they passed around to each other. And a “camel” stamp to imprint on important documents. They particularly enjoyed making up names for their fictitious clients. They had a toy phone and a Blip electronic game that made noises like an intercom. I probably shouldn’t mention that they also liked to play pretend-bridge while “smoking” candy cigarettes.
     Janet Cummings’ first choice of career was grocery store clerk, because they get to push all those buttons. As a young child Janet was fascinated with buttons, with the sound and rhythm that they created. Mom was especially thankful for this fascination after the birth of Janet’s twin sisters Diane and Marjorie. Three-year-old Janet was younger than mom would’ve chosen to start her on the piano, but she needed something to keep Janet occupied while she cared for the twins.
     Janet grew up in Greeley, Colorado. Mom taught piano lessons (and was an elementary school teacher before the children came along). Dad worked as an accountant. Janet had a very stable childhood. She was able to navigate K-12 with several of the same friends. She started playing the French horn in sixth grade middle school. Her dad took her to a UNC horn choir concert when she was deciding which band instrument to play, and she was hooked. Janet was fortunate to grow up within the Greeley music community – while walking Greeley sidewalks, music was in the air.
     Janet chose to attend University of Northern Colorado because of their excellent music program. She wanted to study music even though she knew that she would never go Pro. She did not want the life of a professional musician where everything revolves around the music, requiring long hours of practice every day. Yet, she wanted music to be a big part of her life. She knew that music would benefit her well-being.
     Janet met Walter at UNC. He was completing a doctorate in conducting. He was a charming, good-natured, gentle man with a melodious southern drawl. He was enthusiastic about band music, and played the slide trombone. They discovered a mutual interest in tennis and got to know one another better from opposite ends of the court, over and over reciting the words “15-love”. They worked a summer music festival in Breckenridge together, where they climbed their first 14’er – and the match was complete.
     While Janet was completing the final year of her “Music in French Horn Performance” degree, Walter took a job as the band director at a college in New Hampshire. Walter did not like the atmosphere of this position and decided to find a career path where the air was easier to breathe. So, when he returned to Greeley Janet and he set out upon a new path that would lead them to Grand Junction. Walter decided to try his hand at running the East Middle School Band program.
     In the month of December, 1989, Janet graduated from college, got married and moved from her hometown of Greeley to Grand Junction. Janet and Walter were married in the Greeley Unitarian Universalist church. It was the first introduction to UU-ism for both of them. When they attended a few Sunday Services to check out the congregation, the minister asked for feedback at the end of one of her talks. Janet got the sense that these UU folks were living more in the moment than what she recalled of her Episcopal and Presbyterian upbringing. She was impressed because they were active participants rather than passive bystanders. (Janet started questioning the teachings of her religion of origin during a world religion class in seventh grade. It seemed to her that one’s place of birth determined one’s religion.)
     Shortly after the move to Grand Junction, Janet met Marge Miller at a Sierra Club potluck. Marge invited Janet and Walter to a Sunday Service, and when they did not attend until six months later, Marge jokingly referred to them as “wayward Unitarians”.
     Yes, like many UU’s, the Cummings are believers – that wilderness nourishes the soul. They are avid hikers, backpackers and campers. But the fishing is all Walter (and Sam when he became old enough). Janet is happy to cheer them along. More recently, Janet and Walter have taken up pickleball (sort of like tennis with a smaller court) for exercise and to relieve stress – and have a lot of fun in the process.
     In 1992 the Cummings started their music publishing business in the basement of their home on Chipeta Ave. Janet went back to school to get a degree in accounting to get a better grasp on keeping the books. Her teachers encouraged her to go ahead and take the test to get her CPA license. This proved fortunate a couple years down the road when Janet stumbled into a job as an accountant for Community Hospital, where she still works part-time. Grand Mesa Music is now flourishing. They publish music for concert band, marching band and string orchestra. They meet composers and band directors from all over the world. Walter doesn’t travel across the country as much as he used to, though he still occasionally drives the van to weekend music conferences, and he and Janet (and Sam) travel every year to the worldwide music conference in Chicago.
     Along with her part-time accounting job at Community Hospital and her bookkeeping at Grand Mesa Music, Janet also works with Colorado Mesa students as an accompanying pianist (7 this year) and teaches private piano and horn lessons at home. And she plays horn for the Grand Junction Symphony (27th yr.). She is also a band parent, which she loves. Sam plays the trombone and is switching to the baritone for marching band. Janet is pleased that Sam enjoys band, so she doesn’t mind being the chauffeur for his practices, and she delights in traveling to watch him perform. It is a good thing Janet likes to be busy!
     Sam arrived in 2003. Janet especially appreciated the UUCGV community during this period of her life. After Sam’s adoption several mothers helped ease her transition into motherhood with kind support and sage parenting advice. The UUCGV is like extended family to Janet. Many of her closest friends are members.
     Janet’s been around long enough to cheer for the “Rising from the Ashes” award that the UUCGV received, as well as witness the earlier period when the congregation dissolved into ash. (This experience serves Janet as an important reminder of the need to invite young families to the church.) She has been a steadfast member of the finance team, alternating in the role of treasurer, as well as playing the piano for Sunday Services – for many years. She is the standing president of our congregation, but she doesn’t feel very presidential. She sees herself more as a facilitator, which she hopes fits well with our leadership model of trying to work toward consensus on all decisions. The leadership qualities that Janet has learned while volunteering for the UUCGV have proved helpful to her out in the “real world”.
     One of Janet’s favorite UU experiences was attending a recent national UU General Assembly in Columbus Ohio. We are a little isolated out here in Grand Junction. It is comforting to witness people from congregations all across the country, gathering to celebrate and plan for the future. It feels wonderful to connect with the larger movement. GA’s are teeming with energy, with a plenitude of workshops and talks to choose from. Janet was thrilled to hear a large, impressive choir backed up by professional musicians, serving the multitude with good vibrations.
     Here comes Janet buzzing along, busy as a honey bee. In actuality, the buzz is more of a sweet melodic hum reverberating from a deep well of benevolent intention. She is rarely in a hurry. How she does it is a mystery. Janet is one of the most grounded individuals you will ever meet. A musical life indeed!
     Coming soon – Walter is organizing a UUCGV youth/adult brass ensemble to perform during the Sunday Service on December 17.
Life goes on...      in endless song...

<![CDATA[From Your President ~ Janet Cummings]]>Sun, 03 Dec 2017 21:27:54 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/from-your-president-janet-cummingsPicture
Hello everyone, 
     I thought I would give you a few highlights of what the Board and TLC (Team Leader Council) have been up to this fall, and also thank you all for helping to make our "Summer of Love" auction a big success.  What a fun event - thanks to the auction team and everyone who donated and purchased the wide variety of items!  It is great that so many "community building" activities come out of the auction, and they last all throughout the year.  
     At our leadership retreat in September, we discussed the fact that our mission and vision statement could use a "tune-up".  We created them several years ago, and want them to reflect the vision we are living now.  I believe we are living our mission by taking actions such as supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, installing our Blessing Box, and having our youth work on preparing and serving food to the homeless community (they are doing this as I type today!). A small group of us have worked on reworking the vision statement and would be happy to have some more help in growing this into a mission statement too.  If you would like to be a part of this process, please let me know, and stay tuned as we hope to share this work in January at our annual Town Hall meeting.
     I wanted to also give you a heads up that the "Long Range Planning" committee has been working hard this fall interviewing members and leaders about all aspects of our church, and making some projections as to how we will grow into our future.  They will be presenting their recommendations at the December board meeting, and also will be talking to the larger congregation in January.     
     There sure are a lot of hard working people involved behind the scenes to keep us chugging along.  Thank you all and good wishes as we head towards the winter solstice.

<![CDATA[​Celebration of a Year of Civic Action]]>Tue, 07 Nov 2017 22:52:47 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/celebration-of-a-year-of-civic-action
Hosted by a variety of Civic Action Groups.
Saturday, November 11 from 7:00 to 10:00 pm
At UUCGV. Civic action can be fun! Keep the fires burning. Re-kindle determination. Celebrate with old and new friends. this is the party of the year for all progressive thinking people. Bring your kids, friends and family. We are making a difference.
· “A Year of Civic Action” movie
· Political trivia competition
· Conversation
· Music
· Activities for kids
· Snacks & Beverages
Free to attend, not free to put on. There will be a tip jar. Questions? Contact kaylaafuera@gmail.com

<![CDATA[Revelations ~ November 2017]]>Sat, 04 Nov 2017 17:04:35 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/revelations-november-2017Picture
This is a monthly column helping us to get to know our friends and members in a deeper way. We thank Monte High for taking the time to do these in-depth interviews for our newsletter.
     Alive, balancing on the precipice. A monk on the rockface. God’s lightning Rod. Rock climbing has been an integral part of Gary Poush’s life – his extreme escape, his tremendous teacher. When you’re climbing, all focus and attention are on a few square feet of rock. Life (and death) is compressed into nothing but the present moment. The experience of climbing introduces you to flow*(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). You enter a different state of being where everything flows purely – a heartbeat at a time, outside of time. If only it were easy to maintain the flow, to stay within the beatific state of being when you’re away from the mountain and living modern everyday life – caught up in the crush of humanity. So many distractions. The hope is to become more and more aware so that you realize it for longer stretches of time.
     Climbing was for Gary more than a sport; it was a lifestyle. Some of his closest friends are from his climbing past, going back into the 70s. Close bonds are formed within the climbing community. You get to know a person’s character when you’re clinging to a sheer vertical cliff and your survival depends upon his or her mindfulness. The need to let go of climbing is Gary’s biggest grudge against aging.
     Gary was born on February 7, 1947. He was the third of four children. At the age of 7 the Poush family moved from Iowa to Minnesota, where Gary spent most of his formative years. His father was a Nazarene minister. The Nazarenes are a conservative evangelical branch of Christianity. Gary’s social life was built around the church community, and there were few children. It was a weird upbringing, out of step with the rest of culture, separate. He spent a lot of time roaming the immense wetland woods of northern Minnesota, immersed in the natural world.
     Though climbing would later take it to a deeper level, the woods, and basketball were Gary’s introduction to flow, to getting into “the zone.” Beginning in his early teenage years, there were endless hours with nothing but the basketball and the orange rim in the sky. He loved it. Pushing the ball down to the ground to bring it back to his hand, caressing, weaving, over and over and over the ball finessed downward and bouncing back into his waiting hand, stop and go, running and twirling, lost in a dribbling dance. Grip the ball and point his elbow, extend his arm and let the ball fly skyward, watch it fall through the hoop and into the net, swish. When he finds himself lost in the zone, it is more than sport – it is meditation. And discipline is built through the dedication.
     The Poush family moved to Wyoming for Gary’s senior year of high school. Gary’s obsession with basketball earned him a scholarship to the University of Wyoming. The college courses expanded his mind and he began to question the beliefs from his upbringing. Studying science, he had to make a choice. The logic of science was impossible to deny.
     Because of a bad experience with the basketball coach, Gary lost his passion for basketball. After his sophomore year he gave up his full ride scholarship and worked his way through school to finish his zoology degree. During this period he got his first taste of rock climbing – it had an interesting flavor.
     Gary was drafted into the Army in the 1969 lottery, but wasn’t called up until January 1971. He wanted to be a medic, and because of his zoology degree the Army agreed with him – sort of. He was assigned to the dental Corps and spent most of his time at Fort Knox Kentucky. His experience of the Army was mostly boredom. Yet, all the time on his hands funneled into contemplation. The questioning of college became a searching, a wrestling match with philosophy and religion to find meaning in life.
     Shortly after Gary got out of the Army, he joined a group of Wyoming climbers on a two month expedition to the Cordillera Blanca (white mountain range) in Peru. The air at 20,000 feet slows everything down and effects your brain in strange ways. When he returned from Peru, Gary settled into the northern Wyoming climbing community near the Big Horns. This remained his home base for years, as a carpenter and a climber.
     Gary started getting into photography, getting lost in the flow of the shutter and the darkroom. His main focus was large-format black and white landscape photography. He worked his way into a part-time job as an adjunct photography teacher at Sheridan Community College.
     And then, in 1986 a good friend of Gary’s invited him up to the artist colony for a book reading. She managed the artist colony for the Ucross Foundation, which offered residencies across a wide range of artistic disciplines. At the meeting he met an intriguing woman who was doing a summer writing residency at the colony. Sandy Dorr. And so began Gary’s real life. With the end of summer Sandy returned to the University of Colorado to finish the final year of her graduate degree in creative writing. After graduation she returned to Wyoming, and Gary, and just over a year later Julian was born.
     Sandy and Gary both won fellowships from the Wyoming Council on the Arts, but they were barely scraping by, and with a newborn... So, they moved to Portland where Gary worked as a superintendent on large commercial building projects. Sandy worked as a freelance writer and taught writing classes at various colleges in the area. And then along came Lilly.
     The seemingly constant Portland rain began to seem oppressive. Yet, Gary’s gut was trying to tell him there was more to it than the gloomy weather. The real issue was something deeper. (Did you know that science is now affirming the belly as the second brain?) There was an ache at the core of his being. He was craving wide open spaces. He needed the experience of wildness, the real wilderness that is found in the Interior West. Portland is a great city, but it’s still a city, and the wild places nearby are not expansive.
     Searching, searching for a new place to land the family. Sandy and Gary desired a land with long wild stretches and large horizons; yet, they needed a place that would support their livelihoods, a place where they could play out all of their passions. They visited an old climbing friend of Gary’s and discovered that Grand Junction is a small city; yet, it is a regional hub with the amenities of a much larger city, with a growing niche of artists and writers and outdoor enthusiasts.
     They leaped and landed in Grand Junction without jobs. Sandy can always rely on freelance writing, and they were hoping to start a business – a contracting business – building custom, energy-efficient and sustainable homes. The business took off and for the most part has kept Gary busier than he’d like. Sandy started teaching writing and poetry classes at the university, and worked toward establishing a vibrant writing community in the Valley – a nonprofit Writers forum – teaching writing and poetry workshops and retreats, enticing well-known visiting authors, getting poetry in the local paper, poetry on buses... The region’s community of talented writers is now creating a hum of energy, a web of collective consciousness...
     Sometime around Y2K, Sandy and Gary met Shari Daly Miller and she pointed them toward the UUCGV. The kids were the reason they became regulars at the church. The adult RE discussion group brought Gary into a deeper involvement in the congregation. They grew to love the community and over the years have invested a lot of heartfelt energy. If you look closely you’ll see traces of blood, sweat and tears embedded in the UUCGV building (you’ll also hear plenty of joyful laughter if you put your ear to the wall). Gary put his experience in construction to good use, and gave countless hours of his time toward the renovation project. He is also a past president of the UUCGV board. The most valuable lesson Gary has learned while volunteering for the congregation is that each person in leadership brings their own history, each person has their own story to tell, their own ideas on how the church ought to be. He now has a better understanding of what the church is, in all of its variety. He realizes that UUCGV leadership cannot be about any one person’s vision –that perhaps the biggest challenge of leadership is to accommodate and align many different visions.
     Though Julian and Lilly have been gone for a good long while now, it seems like yesterday. You build your life around the kids, and they move on. Gary’s not sure if he’ll ever completely get used to it. Right now he’s in the process of trying to retire. He’s trying to turn the shack in the backyard into an office with a darkroom. He’s hoping to take up photography again, escape into the shutter. Sandy is currently the writer in residence at HopeWest, working on a collection of poetry. Sandy and Gary are hoping for more time to hit the trails – and the off trail backcountry wilderness. And, now that they are about to enter their second childhoods, they’re hoping to float the river more often and reconnect with their watery Minnesota upbringings.
Life goes on...      in endless song...

<![CDATA[​NAMI—In Our Own Voice]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 19:41:02 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/nami-in-our-own-voiceOn Sunday, October 22, NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) will be offering an “In Our Own Voice” presentation. These presentations change attitudes, assumptions and stereotypes by describing the reality of living with mental illness. People with mental health conditions share their powerful personal stories. Join us after the service at noon in the sanctuary.
<![CDATA[Revelations ~ October 2017]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 19:17:17 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/revelations-october-2017Picture
This is a monthly column helping us to get to know our friends and members in a deeper way. We thank Monte High for taking the time to do these in-depth interviews for us every month.
     Somewhere back in 1999 friends invited Bill Hilty and his wife to a UU Sunday Service. During the service he witnessed David Miller and Duane Carr, who were delivering the lay sermon together that day, having a friendly intellectual argument, and somewhere in the back recesses of Bill’s mind a crack opened up, and light came pouring in (and Leonard Cohen was somewhere singing). Bill began thinking about subjects he hadn’t considered since college – heavy conceptions and suppositions of philosophy and religion. He realized that he liked these questions sifting through his head – and heart. He realized that he wanted this meaningful substance in his life. Bill’s been a contributing UU member ever since.

     Bill was born in Ohio. His grandfather was raised as a Mennonite, but he had too many questions and chose the more liberal Congregationalist faith. Grandpa “Ray” went on to become a Congregational minister and founded the Kettering Church of Christ which exists still today in Dayton, Ohio. Bill’s family moved to Boulder, Colorado when he was three years old. He attended Sunday school at the Boulder Congregational Church until “opting out” of confirmation at the age of 13, and he did not get back into church other than for weddings and funerals until he became a Unitarian Universalist 20 years later.

     Like many involved in UUCGV leadership, Bill shifts positions every two years. He’s almost run the gamut. He is currently serving on the Leadership Development Team. One of Bill’s most memorable leadership experiences was a weeklong trip to the Russell Lockwood leadership retreat, which he undertook to prepare himself for the presidency. (The UUCGV tries to send two congregants a year to Russell Lockwood.) He did more thinking in one week at the leadership retreat than what is required for a semester of college. He learned UU history and what the UU’s are all about; yet, he learned even more about himself. Although not one to apply labels, he discovered that he was a “humanistic religious naturalist with a mystic twist.”

     Yet Bill’s principle commitment has been to family-- raising three daughters.. It might be more accurate to say that they raised him – to a higher level.  He and Jill are blessed with three great kids: Bailey, India, and Maya. He is beyond grateful for the many precious moments he has shared with family, and for being able to participate in his children’s lives. Bill quickly adapted to being the only one in the home with a Y chromosome (including multiple female pets).

     Bill’s got Jill, his co-conspirator, beautiful wife and loving-life companion, to thank in all of this –the wonderfulness of his daughters, his blessed life. They met at a weekly international student lunch during CU medical school. They had similar interests, so they started hanging out. They’ve been hanging out ever since-- travelling the world with the entire family, like Swiss Family Robinson traversing the wilderness, and worshiping at the Church of the Great Outdoors. Camping and river rafting. Hiking, biking, and jogging are particularly favorite activities.

     Jill and Bill utilized the couples-matching program and left Colorado to complete their respective medical residencies in the San Francisco Bay area.. When Bill finished his residency in 1997, they moved to Grand Junction. They wanted to stay in Colorado, and the Eastern slope was becoming too congested for their liking. After researching hospitals it was clear that St. Mary’s was the right choice. Over the years the Hiltys have been grateful for this decision. St. Mary’s is a top-notch hospital and Grand Junction is a great place to raise children as well as an excellent fit for their lifestyle.

     Oh, by the way, Bill is an emergency room doctor. He likes intellectual challenges. One of his challenges is to adeptly adapt to any emergency, or minor complaint, that comes through the automatic sliding doors. The hours are crazy. He rotates from night shift to dayshift and the shifts run over if things are busy. Bill can sleep anywhere, anytime. It’s a good thing he can keep his ever-changing schedule on his smart phone:  Jill asks, “When do you work next?” Bill replies, “I don’t know.” Jill – “tomorrow?” Bill – checking his schedule. Bill’s job at St. Mary’s is evolving into more of a leadership, administrative role. He is currently the director of the emergency physicians group, and beginning in 2018 he will be the St. Mary’s medical staff president. Jill is a local family practice physician who performs international volunteer work annually, and “on the side” is manager and shared-owner of a local aesthetic skin care business.

     September this year, Bill and Jill became empty-nesters. They are in the process of evolving, letting go to find themselves anew, and looking forward to new opportunities. They are finding a new phase, searching for new stories. They’ll have more quiet time together and more just-the-two-of-them adventures.

     Bill is an eternal optimist; he’s sure he’s got time for one more project. His compassion inspires him to take on projects that he thinks will improve the lives of those around him. His hope to make a difference gives his life meaning and purpose. So, he always seems to be slightly overextended...
Life goes on… in endless song…

<![CDATA[Revelations ~ September 2017]]>Sun, 10 Sep 2017 17:53:24 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/revelations-september-2017Picture
This is a monthly column helping us to get to know our friends and members in a deeper way. We thank Monte High for taking the time to do these in-depth interviews for us every month.
     Shari Daly Miller was born on April 22, 1966. Her dad was a seller of shoes. Her mom was an average 70’s housewife, and helped out with the administrative duties at the Lakewood Congregational church. Granddad was a Congregational minister. As far back as Shari can remember, the family was immersed in the church.
     When the time came for Shari to start school, mom decided to send her up to the Mountain Open Living School in
Evergreen because she was sure that Shari could not sit still in a school chair. It was an hour long bus ride up the mountain from Lakewood (West Denver) every morning. Fortunately for Shari she possesses a prodigious power for sleep. She would awake to an idyllic mountain setting (Evergreen before all of the housing developments). Picture towering Ponderosa Pine whispering in the wind, a creek running through the schoolyard, and granite caves to explore in the foothills… . The bus ride down the mountain was quicker and often joyful – hippie teenagers playing the guitar and singing Crosby, Stills & Nash songs…   Shari didn’t study a lot of math.
     In the fifth grade Shari returned to regular school. It was a culture shock. She did not like it. She was not happy. The middle school years were a struggle. She felt awkward, and doomed. She had red hair and big feet and was skinny as a stick. (Her shoe size did not change after the age of 12.)
     High school was better. Shari enjoyed art and choir, but the Field Studies Program was the saving grace that carried Shari through to graduate high school. It was an experiential education program with urban, rural, and wilderness units. They did backpacking, rafting, and farming. Shari was encouraged to submit her urban unit portfolio to a large Scholastic Art show. Her portfolio won a scholarship to the University of Denver.
     The summer after high school Shari got a job delivering flowers. The shop had two delivery vans – she took the deliveries to the north and this other guy took the deliveries to the south. She thought this guy was kind of cute, until one day he took off his hat and these gorgeous ringlets fell down around his shoulders. Oh my! David suddenly became exquisitely interesting. Shortly after the hair revelation the path of the two vans would somehow happen to cross around lunch break. All the flowers!
     Love, love, love. It wasn’t long before Shari knew that David Miller was “the guy”, the guy she wanted to be her Daly mate and the father to their children. His ‘genes’ fit well and his stride kept time to a rhythm of beautiful philosophies. Shari graduated from DU with a degree in Fine Art in 1988, and they were married a year later.
     To her surprise, Shari enjoyed college life and time flew by quickly. (During this time David was getting a Philosophy degree from the University of Colorado – Denver campus.) Before Shari knew it she was graduated and looking for fellowship. College was the only time in her life when she didn’t attend church groups. At this time Shari recalled a long past conversation with a youth advisor at the Congregational Church Camps. She had explained to her that she liked the church camp community, but wasn’t too sure about all the Jesus stuff. She replied “That’s all right Shari, you are just a Unitarian.” So Shari stopped by to check out Jefferson Unitarian, and found her spiritual home. David was skeptical and resistant at first, but when he gave it a whirl he fell in love with the place and its open-minded space. He was amazed that he could bring all of his philosophies along with him to church.
     Shari and David began contemplating a downshift to a smaller town. They sent feelers out to many communities in Colorado. David had been experimenting, working with printing presses and coming to love the beauty of these machines. The first job offer came from Colorado Printing in Grand Junction, so they loaded up the truck and headed our way (though most of us weren’t yet here).
     After finding a place to unload their stuff, they found a small floundering UU Fellowship. Shari found life lacking without church groups to participate in. She missed the connection to church that she’d had most of her life. She needed community. She needed hugs and handshakes, small-groups and choir to throw her arms around. She needed a place to help nurture her children. She needed to congregate, UU style.
     Shari brought her contagious enthusiasm into rebuilding the local Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and with the help of the Oswalds, the VanDuesens, the Cummings, and many others, created a vibrant community. Within a few years the defunct UU Fellowship rose from the dead to become an energetic congregation, teeming with young families and a thriving religious education program. A few of Shari’s first UU converts were friends from her homebirth class. Yes, Arlo in utero was responsible for the resurgence of Unitarian Universalism in the Grand Valley! And then Rudy came along a few years later, running around with his nonstop energy to keep everybody hopping! The congregation received the Rising from the Ashes Award from the Mountain Desert District of the UUA. Woohoo!
     Along the way there have been ups and downs within the congregation. The most uplifting experience for Shari was witnessing the growing support for gay and transgender people. So cool! Shari had a big hand in the transition for us to become an official Welcoming Congregation. And it was wonderful to be involved in hosting the yearly UU Mountain Desert District (members from Texas to Montana) meeting. This was a huge undertaking, especially for a small congregation, but the UUCGV pulled it off with accolades. We rented the Two Rivers Convention Center, and it was filled with a multitude of UU people attending various events taking place over a three-day weekend.
     In 2009 Shari and David divorced. It was about as amicable as these things can be. The weekends were happy times, spent with her teenagers Arlo and Rudy. Then, the following year Shari and Robert McDonald rediscovered one another in a new way, with an aura of romantic music playing in the background. They linked arms and slid easily into loving, contented cohabitation. And a while later Billie Sage became a roommate, and then Connie Murillo and her boys took up residence in the upstairs apartment. It was a happy rollicking household.
     And then, suddenly, there was a black hole in the backyard. Connie Murillo passed on, became an unbound big-hearted spirit. And though Nicolai and Cohen are now in good hands, their absence was also strongly felt. Grieving hit the household hard. They are just now beginning to resurface, and learn to dance with Connie’s beatific big-hearted spirit. Connie lives on in their experience of the (sometimes gut-wrenching) beautiful everyday.
     Church is a big part of Shari’s life. Over the years she’s been enmeshed in UUCGV leadership and an unceasing doer of tasks. Shari is looking forward to the coming school year as the staff coordinator of the children’s Religious Education program. It’s always a joy to see the wee ones running around, the teenagers becoming adults. And with autumn around the corner, be sure to enjoy all the eye-popping flowers, all of the colorful flower art surrounding our building. Shari is the planter and caretaker of the beauty! She also has a hand in the beautification inside the building.
     Shari is an artist extraordinaire. Throughout her lifetime she’s worked with about every imaginable art form – painting, sculpting, felting, photography, gardening, etc…  Shari’s desire is to create and share beauty, to bring beauty into people’s lives. “Open your eyes, look around and recognize the beauty of the world!”
Life goes on… in endless song…

<![CDATA[​Revelations - August 2017]]>Sun, 30 Jul 2017 19:49:49 GMThttp://grandvalleyuu.org/blog/revelations-august-2017Picture
This is a monthly column helping us to get to know our friends and members in a deeper way. We thank Monte High for taking the time to do these in-depth interviews for us every month.
     John and Ellen left Denver on a November morning, their new travel trailer in tow. Excitement was in the air. It was the beginning of a three month journey throughout the Southwest, searching for a new home, for a place where they could retire and grow old together. They spent some time along the way in public libraries, relaxing and resting up – doing research. They wanted a location with, among other things, jobs, good scenery and recreation; yet, above all else it needed a college and a Unitarian Universalist Congregation. (John and Ellen had met at a 1996 weeklong UU camp in Carbondale. They fell in love the first day. They have been an item ever since.)
     They headed south toward Walsenburg and Trinidad, then on to Albuquerque, Los Alamos, and onward to the Tucson area, where they celebrated the 2000 New Year. They got married in Sedona along the way. After being fused forever together by the powerful beauty of Sedona, they finally ended up visiting Grand Junction.
     John and Ellen liked what they found in Grand Junction. They sold their house in Denver and moved to Grand Junction in their camp trailer to begin looking for jobs and a house. They eventually found their place up Unaweep Canyon.
     It is a gross understatement to say that John Mayo has lived a varied life. His work history alone rivals the length of War and Peace. After graduating with an electrical engineering degree in 1967, he worked for a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. He met his first wife Karen while managing a food co-op in Madison, Wisconsin: they got hitched and moved to Texas. The family was living in a rented farmhouse and John was working as a cooperative education teacher when their two sons were born.
     In the mid 70’s he started work as the Chief Media Engineer for a college in Dallas; while there he also returned to the university to work on an MFA in broadcasting and film. Then he took a job at the public television station in Dallas where he did research for his thesis, which examined new technologies for television distribution that were then coming about – cable and satellite TV. Because of the contacts he made doing his research, John eventually gained employment working on the main Dallas cable TV system. He moved on as the senior engineer for studios and computer systems for another cable TV company in west Texas.
     After several years, John and Karen decided to move to eastern Colorado, near the ranch where she was raised. There he was the plant engineer and IT programmer for a vitamin manufacturer. After six years, John moved on as a senior engineer for a medical equipment manufacturer in Denver. A couple years later John and Karen parted ways.
     Then in ‘99 the medical equipment manufacturer was bought out and John was laid off. So began John and Ellen’s journey toward Grand Junction. After they were settled into their new home in Unaweep Canyon, John was unable to find a suitable engineering job in Grand Junction, so he went back to school at Mesa State College (Colorado Mesa University) to study Environmental Science and Geographic Information Systems. This education led to John’s final  job (for pay) as a Hydrologist at the US Geological Survey researching water quality, which involved a lot of data analysis. He worked at the USGS for 10 years. (During this time Ellen was working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service designating endangered plant species.)
     It takes an uncommonly sharp and elastic mind to navigate and adapt to so many different environments. We are fortunate to have that mind in play for John’s new, far more important position of volunteer employee for the UUCGV.
     John’s largest undertaking for the congregation was designing and installing the sound and video system during the remodeling of our amazing new building. He and Ann Litke did hard labor installing new wiring throughout the sanctuary ceiling, floor, and sound booth. The sound and video system in the Sanctuary is still evolving. He enjoys this project because it takes him back to the public television days when he was engineering the sound and video for various shows. Engineering a worship service is a lot like putting on a show.
     John has also worked on many smaller projects as head of the Property Team, of which he is still a member. He is also heading up the Long-Range Planning Team, which is currently mapping out the possibilities for the next five congregational years.
     Since John retired two years ago he spends more time working on his favorite hobby, as an engineer of a different sort – building a model train layout. But you’ll need to expand your idea of model trains to understand the immensity of the project John is undertaking. It is modeled after the 1950 Denver Rio Grande Railroad in Western Colorado. It has intricate orchards and rivers and an oil refinery, etc. The train is run by a computer. The ongoing project is on his mind wherever he goes. When John and Ellen are out traversing the land in their camp trailer he will see, for instance, a small creek and think “perhaps I could use that in the model”. And when they’re traveling, John and Ellen are always on the look for unique “real” trains to ride. Engineering, construction, history and art are all involved in the project. Not to mention, a gentle loving hand. These are the qualities that John carries with him throughout the moments of his life.
     John has also been busy helping Ellen dig and plant in the yard. They are planning more trips in their “newer” camp trailer – as long as they can stay one step ahead of the mountain lion that has visited them recently in Unaweep Canyon.
Life goes on...          in endless song…