1993 Starr King Graduate
I grew up in a community church called the United Church, in Los Alamos, New Mexico. For a while it was the only Protestant church in town, and then various denominations broke away and left behind a Presbyterian/United Church of Christ sort of mix. I didn't attend a Unitarian Universalist church until I was raising my own kids (back in Los Alamos again), and it seemed the best place to take them for religious education. I continued to go to church myself because I liked the community, the minister and the social activism. During this period, the thought of becoming a minister first occurred to me.
I came to Starr King School in 1991 at the age of 49, seeking a "redemptive educational experience." When I first found out about Starr King, I yearned to go there but could not rationalize spending the money unless I intended to become a minister. So I talked myself into that goal and enrolled.
Now, 12 years after graduating, I feel grateful for my two years at Starr King, even though I have never completed the UUA's required steps for ministry. (My biggest disappointment was finding out all the hoops required beyond my M.Div., hoops I was not willing to jump through at the age of 51 after a full career in counseling, teaching and writing.) The knowledge and insight gained through the deep, engrossing and challenging courses I took and my experience of the Starr King community continue to sustain me personally and professionally.
I think I had the best of all possible experiences at Starr King. Because I chose not to pursue Unitarian Universalist ministry, I could concentrate on such gems as Joanna Macy's course in Deep Ecology, Claire Fischer's courses in Feminist Theology and Pilgrimage, and a tutorial with Bob Kimbro. Dr. Rebecca Parker mentored me in a self-designed course in "contemplation," in which I read, meditated and journaled every Thursday morning, just as if I was attending a regular class. These courses influenced a book that I published in 1993, Growing Whole: Self Realization on an Endangered Planet.
Moreover, the course with Joanna Macy guided me into a whole new realm, Deep Ecology, which remains a key dimension of my work today. In 1997-8, I co-authored a book with Joanna, Coming Back to Life: Practices To Reconnect Our Lives, Our World.
Today I continue to struggle with balancing my calling as a teacher and writer (you might say, my ministry)-and making a living. To provide a base income, I work part-time as a high school English teacher. For my "true calling," I offer courses (on-line and residential) in ecopsychology and psychosynthesis, a spiritual psychology I first studied in the 1970s. I present occasional workshops in both areas, consult with individuals via phone and in person, and write. I recently co-authored a book, Consensus in the Classroom, with Linda Sartor, and published Unfolding Self: The Practice of Psychosynthesis, a revision of a book first published in 1983. (I invite anyone interested in my work to visit my Web site.
Within the Unitarian Universalist tradition, I especially appreciate the seventh principle (respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part); the notion of finding/creating one's own spirituality within a supportive, open-minded community; and social/political activism. As an intellectual, I both appreciate and feel impatient with the emphasis on reason. My impatience comes from my desire for a deeper, meta-rational connection to Spirit. My own spiritual path these days includes communion with nature, Buddhism and practices from indigenous traditions.
Rob Eller Isaacs
Mary Ann Maggiore
Judith Brown Osgood