|4 years ago :: May 27, 2009 - 7:18PM #1|
I picked up the latest UU World last night for what I thought would be some pleasant bedtime reading only to encounter the obituary of someone who was a bright light in my UU past. So, it is with mixed feelings of sadness and joy that I write this memorial.
Rev. Webster Kitchell's name may be familiar to those of you who've heard of or read his Coyote sermon collections--God's Dog, Coyote Says... and Get a God!--three slim little volumes available online from the UUA Bookstore, each of which is a joy and a delight.
I was a member of the Santa Fe UU church nearly a quarter century ago during the early years of Web's ministry there.
One thing I will always remember of him was the humor he interjected somewhere into the service, typically in his sermons. The Coyote collections are wonderful examples of his rollicking sense of humor and deeply felt connection to the Earth and nature.
A rotund man who rather resembled Colonel Sanders of KFC infamy (or fame, depending upon your viewpoint), Web was the quintessential UU minister as far as I'm concerned. He rarely concluded a service without his traditional closing, "May God the Mother, God the Father and God the Child be with us as we go our separate ways." The next Sunday, it might go, "May God the Child, God the Mother and God the Father..." and so forth. Occasionally, God was implored in somewhat unexpected forms, relative to that service's theme. It wasn't unusual for the congregation to head for the coffeepot still laughing.
One of my favorite memories of Web was the Sunday that it was announced that he had been selected that year by the ministerial alliance to give the opening and concluding prayers for the annual Crop Walk. Someone asked him jokingly which of his "UU generic" prayers he planned to use. He grinned and said, "Goddess knows," with a sassy wink. (And the prayers he delivered were quite suitably non-denominational and thoroughly UU generic.)
Most of his Coyote sermons were delivered after I'd finished graduate school and gone back home to Kansas. These years later, however, I read them and visualize his puckish grin and twinkling eyes. What fun he must have had composing and delivering them! He will live on for me in these words which capture, I think, the best of Unitarian Universalism.
Web Kitchell, you are loved and remembered.