Spiritual Currents

Dwayne Eutsey

BIO: Who am I? Well, that happens to be one of life’s most vexing spiritual questions, isn’t it? Great philosophers have grappled with it throughout the ages with mixed results, so who am I to think I can answer it here? Ok, for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say I’m a local writer interested in spiritual issues. I live in Easton with my life partner Amy and our three children. We are members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton.

“Spiritual Currents” is a regular column that promotes and explores the Mid-Shore’s deep spiritual diversity—with “spirituality” broadly defined as our search for enduring meaning in life. This ongoing quest can unfold within religious traditions and without them, within our relationships and in solitude.

If you would like to share a local event or a personal story that reflects this journey on the Shore, please contact me here (put “Spiritual Currents” as the subject line).

A Memorial Day Remembrance

By Dwayne Eutsey

The holiday we observe this weekend, Memorial Day, was first enacted four years after the Civil War ended.

Originally called Decoration Day, the Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters designated the 30th of May, 1868, as a day for “strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

After World War I, the supposed “war to end all wars,” Decoration Day became the general remembrance of America’s war dead that we commemorate today.

The original Decoration Day order prescribed no particular form or ceremony but called on “Posts and comrades [to] in their own way arrange…fitting services and testimonials of respect.” I’d like to offer one such testimonial for one of my forebears who died in defense of his country during the Civil War. First, however, a brief family history.

The Anti-War Origins of Mother’s Day

By Dwayne Eutsey

“Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
‘We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’”

Although you won’t find these sentiments in a Hallmark card for Mother’s Day, they are the stirring opening words of a declaration for peace that initiated the holiday back in the 1870s.

Multicultural Festival Celebrates Diversity

by Dwayne Eutsey
Shortly after moving back to the Shore in 2002, I remember taking my then toddler-aged kids to the Multicultural Festival in Idlewild Park.

It was a beautiful early spring afternoon and I thought going to this free Festival would be a great way to introduce my children to their new community. I remember it being a nice experience, even though the Festival itself was relatively small then. People milled around a few tables staffed by local community organizations while a couple performed Irish music from the pavilion.

UUFE Calls New Settled Minister

By Dwayne Eutsey

By a unanimous vote on Sunday, members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton (UUFE) have called Rev. Gabriele L. Parks (Gabi) as the Fellowship’s new settled minister.

Currently serving Thomas Paine UU Fellowship in Collegeville, Pennsylvania as an interim/consulting minister, Gabi says she looks forward to working with the congregation to spread the good news of UUism throughout the Mid-Shore.

The Spirituality of Work

by Dwayne Eutsey

Despite some promising (albeit small) signs that the economy may be recovering, there’s one daunting obstacle overshadowing it.

“It’s still about jobs, jobs, jobs,” a recent article on MSNBC.com almost breathlessly begins. “Until the employment market starts showing signs of improvement, it will cast a pall over any ‘green shoots’ of growth poking up through the destruction left by the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression.”

The article, which says America is losing about 600,000 jobs a month, goes on to discuss employment as an economic factor. However, rarely do we see news stories that characterize the work we do as a spiritual matter, which seems to me to be of equal importance to our lives.

In the Cold of Winter, Talbot Interfaith Shelter (TIS) Offered Warm Hospitality

By Dwayne Eutsey

The invisible homelessThe invisible homeless

Although tent cities haven’t sprung up on the Mid-Shore as they have in other parts of the country during these tough economic times, homelessness is still an issue in our communities.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), there was close to 10,000 homeless people living in Maryland in 2007, which was a 20 percent increase from 2005. Throughout the state, 16 percent of that number were chronically homeless, while nearly half (48%) were families, and 4,000 were veterans.

Here Comes the Sun…

UUFE Holds Spring Equinox Celebration, March 20

by Dwayne Eutsey
The late comedian Bill Hicks once wondered why Western Civilization commemorates the resurrection of Jesus with a story about a giant rabbit sneaking into our homes at night to leave us chocolate eggs.

“I’ve read the Bible,” Hicks mused. “I can't find the word ‘bunny’ or ‘chocolate’ anywhere in the (expletive deleted) book.”

Yep. Try as you might, you’ll be hard pressed to find any references to the Easter Bunny hopping around in the Christian Bible. Nor will you even come across the word “Easter,” for that matter. Rooted as they are in the Pagan celebration of the Vernal (or Spring) Equinox, both the bunny myth and the word “Easter” itself pre-date Christianity in Europe by centuries.

On the Spring Equinox, which marks the seasonal change from winter to spring, the length of day and night are equally balanced due to the earth’s position in its orbit around the sun. This transition from cold to warmth, dark to light, remission to renewal has long been celebrated by many agricultural cultures around the world, including pre-Christian Europe.

Sharing a Common Meal; Sharing a Common Story Interfaith Passover Seder in Easton, March 30

by Dwayne Eutsey
PassoverPassoverIn this fast food era, eating is often just one more thing we have to multi-task.

It’s not uncommon for people to grab a value meal from a drive-thru window and gobble it down alone while driving, working at the desk, or watching television. In fact, taking time to share more deliberately prepared meals together has apparently become so infrequent that a cable network, TV Land, recently ran a campaign urging families to eat dinner together…and without the TV on. website

Eating together, of course, is also an important part of belonging to a faith community. Potluck lunches and dinners are essential to a congregation’s social life, while certain foods often hold deep symbolic significance in many religious rituals.

The Jewish tradition of table fellowship is an example of the dual role food can play in spiritual life. According to religious scholar Don Saliers, the meal at the heart of this ancient practice united the community (and even those outside the community) in celebrating and sharing in the blessings of God’s bounty. Saliers also points out that early Christian communities continued practicing this part of their Jewish heritage in gatherings called agape (or love) feasts.

As Economic Anxiety Deepens, a Local Group Says Give Peace a Chance

The Search for Peace begins WithinThe Search for Peace begins Within

By: Dwayne Eutsey

Personal budgets and retirement funds are not the only things taking a hit these days. As economic woes continue to rise, our psychological and spiritual well-being is also increasingly frayed.

In a recent study, 80 percent of people surveyed (ages 18-54) said money and housing concerns were disrupting the “harmony of their lives.” Aside from contributing to personal issues like depression, this anxiety can erupt in violence in the home and community, with hate group activity an especially ugly manifestation. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, as unemployment rates began to climb last year there was a 4 percent jump in hate groups around the country.

These bleak statistics can seem overwhelming when dealt with in isolation. However, joining others in an inclusive, supportive community can offset the stress and alienation that can lead to violence. According to psychiatrist M. Scott Peck: “There can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”

It’s that vital link between personal well-being and social stability that an Easton-based group wants to foster through sponsoring Talbot County Peace Week (March 15-21).

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