She Was Beautiful

"She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful for the way she thought. She was beautiful for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn't beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful deep down to her soul."  F. Scott Fitzgerald

 I saw this quote, and it drew me in. I wondered how many of us really look at each other.  Do I even take the time, when I look people in the eye, to see who they are, how they are, or even gather them into my heart? We human beings are a strange people. Somehow we get into worrying so much about ourselves that we forgot that we came to be who we are by caring, communicating, meeting, playing, working, believing, and being with each other. Then, I look at the city, county, state, country, and world, and I think to myself, why am I surprised that peace seems all but impossible?  

Why does my heart ache when I read the news and see pictures of people in harm’s way who suffer daily without having what they need just to survive? How can any of us sit idly by and merely worry, or just talk about how senseless things are, - while condemning those who make laws, decisions and move in unjust ways - without at least making phone calls, writing letters or offering to listen to those who are working to make a difference? This is not to say that any of us, including myself, are doing nothing. 

Why are we so afraid of those who are different than we are, that in reality, we don’t have a smile or a hello for them? Are we so afraid of the unknown that we choose not to even read about different religions, other cultures, our history, or our politics? Fear shouldn’t stop us, and we don’t have to let it.

We just had a week where we relived the life of a man whom we choose to follow. Did He take away the sting of a crown of thorns?  Did He make the whips like noodles? Did He make the people choose Barabbas? Did He make the cross lighter? No, He said yes to the whole horrible experience. In the heart of His own suffering, Jesus had time for the others who were being hung on crosses. Can you imagine the strength and courage it took to do that?

My Easter Season will be spent being more aware of others, making a difference where I can, and acknowledging everyone I see, pass, and meet. I hope I can make it a habit so that when an injustice is done to me, I will hold my head high, have patience, not give in, and God willing, see whatever it is, through to a just and peaceful end.

What are you going to do this Easter Season?          -Chris L.

 

Women of Integrity

Women of Integrity

On the International Day of Women, I reflected on the women who have gone before me and helped make me who I am. I don’t want to write about the women who were famous “first” women or those who fought for and won rights for women. I know I owe them gratitude for a multitude of rights that I take for granted. I won’t even write about my mother and my grandmothers, or this article would get much too long. Instead, I would like to remember those “other” women who touched my life and formed me.

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TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO LIVE INTO OUR UCH & UCC VALUES

TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO LIVE INTO OUR UCH & UCC VALUES

1)   Make Time for Our Still Speaking God. God wants to be in conversation with us. There is grace to be found, especially when things are chaotic. Pray and meditate each day. Pray for our Nation and our Nation’s leaders. Pray for Rev. Jeanne and the Council. Pray for the Care Team and for God to show up in your life and give you strength. Come to Soothing Sanctuary.  Talk to God about what you are being called to do and how you can make a difference. Creating a daily prayer practice is an act of Social Justice.

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Hayward Day Labor Center Closes

Hayward Day Labor Center Closes

After serving Alameda County laborers for almost ten years, the Hayward Day Labor Center had to close on January 31, 2017. The Day Labor Center (DLC) lost its fiscal agent and, due in part to cash flow problems caused by how grants are awarded and when they are paid out, it could not find a new fiscal agent. This is a great loss for Southern Alameda County and Hayward in particular. Some statistics based on a report by Gabriel Hernandez, the director, follow.

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Seasons

Seasons

  The cold days of Winter are here. You don’t need to look out the window or watch the evening news to know that a dark cloud has fallen over our beloved community. Just down Mission Blvd. in Union City the Meyers Garden at Dry Creek remains dormant in the brisk breeze. But even with the chill in the air we can take comfort in the promise that Spring can’t be too far behind.

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Sittin' On The Dock By The Bay

Sittin' On The Dock By The Bay

Sandy and I occasionally take our daily walk at Marina Park at the San Leandro Marina where the spectacular beauty of the bay reminds me how lucky we are to live in the Bay Area. It’s particularly true at this time of year when hear about the East Coast getting hammered with freezing temperatures and blizzards. Here the smooth blue Bay waters, encircled by rolling green hills and the view of San Francisco is right out of a scene of Dorothy’s Emerald City.

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While We Wait

While We Wait

Waiting for the expected, no matter what it is, does not come easy for us.  We wait for the rain, and when it arrives, we want the sunshine.  We have the sunshine, and wonder if it will ever rain again.  Sometimes we ponder a memory and say, “Oh, if only I had appreciated it more when I had it.”  Perhaps the wisdom to gain from this experience is that NOW, while we wait, is also the time to appreciate what we do have.  As we approach the closing of Advent, what have you dreamed for during this time?  What have you needed?  What have you hoped would happen?

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Analog

My dad was an “old school” photographer. He didn’t use a cell phone, pad or tablet but rolls of either 20 or 36 exposure black and white film or an optical camera. We grew up in a home with a darkroom where dad, in addition to family pictures, would supplement his postwar income by photographing kids’ sports teams, youth groups and dance classes. In complete darkness and usually taking an entire evening he would remove the exposed film from his camera and transfer it into light tight containers and process the film with alternating baths of chemicals and water rinses. Photos were then printed by exposing photographic paper to the projected negatives and repeating the chemical process. I can still recall standing with my dad in the subdued red light and watching him poke and prod the sensitized paper with plastic tongs and watching as the images slowly and magically appeared in the shallow trays. The photographs were then removed at the perfect moment and dipped into a solution to halt the chemical process.

 

During the 1940’s and 50’s his photographic hobby also included movie making. He was a member of the Hayward Movie Club that met in Jack Hobson’s basement or downtown at Bill Bowman’s camera store on upper B Street. Dad, along with 8 or 10 likeminded members met monthly to critique the short 3 minute 8mm films that they shot during the prior month. Movie film processing was complicated requiring 3 - 4 weeks by Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York.

 

Most all of us still enjoy taking photos of families, friends and places (and ourselves). Once a time consuming craft, hundreds of billions of photos and videos are now taken each week and are distributed world wide in milliseconds. In a world of overwhelming digital visual and written communication maybe there is something to be said about recognizing the value of “old school” and its direct evolution in to today’s social media.

 

We still store most of dad’s photos, negatives, slides and movies, not in the cloud, on flash drives or on memory cards, but in cartons and albums awaiting organization, conversion, and distribution to the next generation of our family. It’s interesting to note that of the thousands of dad’s images we have never found a single selfie!  -Bill R.

 

(William C. Ralph’s movies of early Castro Valley and Hayward are part of a continuous loop of old films that are on display at the Hayward Area Historical Museum’s collection on Foothill Blvd.)