Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: This might seem humorous, but to my family and others in the neighborhood, it isn’t. Our neighbor, who we’ve been friendly with since we moved next door 12 years ago, recently bought a half dozen chickens and a rooster. His claim is that raising his own poultry and having fresh eggs is the reason. That’s all well and good except at the break of day that rooster crows his head off. The neighbor owns the lot his house is on and the lot behind him where he has a hen house. I checked Los Angeles County regulations and having the chickens and the rooster is legal.

Seriously, sometimes I feel like wringing that rooster’s neck (though I really wouldn’t) and isn’t the neighborly thing to do. Is there a way I can change my mind about this? What would a spiritual solution be?
 ~ Very Irritated Neighbor

Dear Irritated Neighbor,
The challenging situation that you are living every day has altered your quality of life. This is the reason why you will want to be honest with your friendly neighbor and calmly explain to him in detail the challenge you are experiencing. Often when there is an opportunity for a person to remedy a situation that they created, they are more than happy to try to do what they can to minimize the effects of the situation.

It is also very possible that you are not the only one experiencing this quality of life issue. Bringing this to the attention of your neighbor, offering to peruse if this affects the other neighbors, gives you and him a better awareness and a real sense of understanding of the impact of having fresh eggs.

Your spirit should be heard and you will find some relief by expressing yourself. Hopefully your neighbor will be understanding and help you in calming your spirit each morning. Should this suggestion fall on deaf ears or be unsuccessful, the best thing for your spirit may be a set of wax earplugs.

Pastor Mark Yeager WEB
Mark Yeager, senior chaplain
Director, Chaplain Services
YMCA of the Foothills
Senior Lead Pastor
Verdugo Hills Church

Dear Very Irritated Neighbor,
Usually I answer these questions in a way that speaks from my own experience and then I feel like I have something valuable to offer. In this situation, though, I’m baffled. It seems as if your hands are tied regarding the rooster, his harem and your neighbor. The most spiritually centered notion I can pass on is the practice of radical acceptance. Sometimes situations are such that all we can do is radically accept them as being the way they are and then adapt our behavior to that situation. In this case, adapting your behavior would probably be having to go to bed earlier than you usually do in order to get the sleep you need and not be disturbed by the rooster when he crows at the crack of dawn.

For all of your cooperation perhaps you can get some fresh eggs and poultry out of the deal. Good luck!
Holly Stauffer WEB
Holly Stauffer
St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church

QUESTION: My friend of 30 years is deeply involved in her religion and has tried unsuccessfully for the last 15 years, at least, to convert me to her way of thinking. Although I don’t attend church, I find God in nature when I take my daily walks and I appreciate the beauty in the arts and music.

I really love and care about my friend, but I’m becoming impatient with her persistence. Lately, I’ve felt like I don’t want to be around her anymore.     Please don’t try to change my mind about going to church. I’d just like to know what to say to her to put this subject to rest once and for all.
~ Impatient Friend

Dear Impatient Friend:
There are many ways to experience spiritual consciousness in life. Religion is only one way. Feeling one’s unity with nature is certainly another way to feel this deeper awareness as is the power of love expressed in being of service for the common good. One does not need to be in a church, synagogue or mosque to have an experience of God or Spirit, however you define it. Spirituality is a universal concept crossing all religions and no religious affiliation, individualizing itself in each of us as we believe. It is a personal conviction of that deep creative urge within.

Many choose the sanctity of a formal communion or service. The ritual of mass or Sunday service, in the Christian religion, is comforting to many, but not necessary. It is a way to feel the unity that community brings.

You have the right to let your friend know that you are comfortable with the way you have chosen to believe. I suggest you pray and/or meditate about it. Also, trust your intuition. If she persists in pushing you, you may wish to release the relationship with love.

Gary Bates WEB
Gary Bates,

Center for Spiritual Living – La Crescenta,

Dear Impatient Friend,
I am sorry that your friend hasn’t been willing to accept your answer about becoming a part of her religious tradition even though I assume you have tried a number of ways of getting your refusal across to her. I am sure that one of the reasons she has been so persistent is that she really cares about you and wants you to experience the religious beliefs that have been so important and meaningful to her. Please let her know that you appreciate her concern for you but that you are absolutely not going to change your mind.

I know that you would not want to break off your friendship of 30 years. But if she is not willing to stop her attempts to convert you, you may just need to stop seeing her – at least for a while – after explaining your reasons. That may be enough to let her know that you are committed to your stance and are not going to relent to go along with her wishes in this area of your life. And she could just agree to stop her proselytizing.

Some people don’t seem to understand that there are many ways to experience God in your life. Just because you do not see things your friend’s way does not mean that you are without a spiritual anchor. I certainly hope that you will be able to maintain your friendship and I wish you every success. It would be a shame to sacrifice all the good things about your relationship over the years because of this issue.
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, minister
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills – La Crescenta bstaple4d@aol.com