Transition is in the air. We are moving back to in-person church and Religious Education. We are shifting into summer mode with free and open days during the week and guests in our pulpit on Sundays. And we are changing over from one Director of Religious Education (DRE) to another.

Transitions are always a bit tricky. Like passing a baton in a relay race, there is always the danger that someone might drop the stick. Karen Magoon Pearson, our incoming DRE, Jacques Kilchoer, RE Committee Chair, and I have been in communication these last few weeks before my departure to ensure that things go well.

I hope my ministry with you as your DRE has made visible the importance of nurturing the spiritual lives of our children and youth. And how that enriches and renews our whole congregation. It has been a joy to work with so many dedicated and talented people: Our staff Rev. Sian, Sarah Jones, and Beth Syverson. Our volunteer Board who have funded and supported the RE program. Our RE Committee: Jacques and Elizabeth Kilchoer, Maria Goode, Briana Malone, and Gabrielle Block and all our volunteer teachers too numerous to list. Thank you all for you kindness and generosity toward each other and our children and youth! You are a blessing.

As Karen Magoon Pearson takes the reigns, the summer RE program for children and youth will continue in Estancia Park. What a great opportunity for a nature focus! “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” wrote Albert Einstein. And that’s just what we will do.

Circle of Trees is a multigenerational program that nurtures our deep connection with trees, nature, and all living creatures. During the pandemic many found solace in nature. Across many cultures, trees are recognized as a symbol for life on earth. We will begin to understand trees as sustainers of life, purifiers of the air we breathe, and providers homes and resources for ever so many creatures, including humans.

Through stories, games, crafts, and meditation children and youth will meet the goals of the program. They include identifying threats to trees and the web of life, finding a spiritual connection with trees and nature, living out our 7th UU Principle, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”, and affirming that stewardship of the earth is an explicit act of our UU faith. Youth will concentrate on putting our UU faith into action as they research local groups that promote saving and planting trees, making sustainability the focus of their summer.

I leave you with this quote by an anonymous author, “Every part of the earth is sacred; every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect is holy.”

May your heart be in a holy place.

Rev. Judy

Rev. Judy Tomlinson was Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church's Director of Religious Education from 2018 through 2021.