Happy trails until we meet again

by | Jun 8, 2020

Growing up I remember our family’s old black and white TV set. It had what now seems like a very small screen in a large brown wooden box.  The set contained a ton of vacuum tubes which produced a prodigious amount of heat.

            But this machine was like a miracle to me back then. It may have brought us far fewer channels than the average household gets today, but it often held me transfixed. There was Walt Disney’s magical hour, not to mention the daily Mickey Mouse Club. One of my favorites was Winky Dink, which was a children’s’ show which had kids purchase a special plastic screen to put on the TV set. Then Winky Dink would have the children draw pictures—connect the dots—on the TV. The only problem was that many kids did not have the special plastic cover, and they just drew directly on the TV picture tube. Needless to say, Winky Dink was canceled by the network in short order.

            However, there was one show I looked forward to seeing on Saturday mornings, and that was Roy Rogers and Dale Evans’ half-hour centered on their ranch with various “cowboy” stories. Each week at the end of the show, Roy would sing:

Happy trails to you,

until we meet again.

Happy trails to you.

Keep smiling until then.

Happy trails to you,

Until we meet again.

            When I was doing weekly Facebook video posts for UCOT, with Mark Bryan, I would end the two-minute messages by saying: “And so to quote that great spiritual teacher, Roy Rogers, ‘Happy Trails to you until we meet again.’ And remember you are the hands, the heart, the feet, and the face of God.”

            Sunday, June 14 will be the last service that I will be leading at Unity Center of Tulsa as your minister. What comes to mind is: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again.”  Also, a very great modern rabbi once said about clergy leaving a spiritual community, “Our work will never be done or perfect.” Those words certainly apply to me and my time at Unity Center of Tulsa. Several other thoughts also come to my mind including these:

  • My years at UCOT certainly were different from how I had pictured them when I came to Tulsa four years ago. For example, I did not picture my wife, Debbie, making her transition.
  • Nevertheless, I believe that I grew more spiritually from the way things actually went than I would have if things had followed my script.
  • I believe that UCOT has made some real progress in terms of starting to get more Gen Xers, Millennials, and children into our spiritual community. This is so important if UCOT is to avoid becoming a museum.
  • UCOT has made some real strides in terms of our online presence. We have moved into livestreaming, online classes, Facebook, and podcasts. All this will be increasingly required if we are to reach “the spiritual but not religious.”
  • We have become a growing progressive presence in the buckle of the Bible Belt, and we have built good partnerships with many fine organizations in Tulsa including the Eastern Oklahoma Community Food Bank, Lindsey House, Circle Cinema, the HOW Foundation, Magic City Books, Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries, the Equality Center, and Public Radio Tulsa.
  • The transformation of our building is moving right along, and we are in good financial shape.

           But what I have been most touched by are the comments from so many of you about how UCOT has had such a positive impact in your lives. As one of my mentors has pointed out to me, at the end of the gospel according to Matthew, Jesus did not say to Peter, “If you love me then count my sheep.” He said, “If you love me then feed my sheep.”

            My one word of caution is: Do not declare ‘Mission Accomplished.’ Positive gains can unravel, and they can unravel quickly. So my advice is: Keep the faith, and boldly go where UCOT has not gone before,

           And happy trails to you, until we meet again!

 Love and blessings,

Rev. Rick