Simone Monique Barnes

This summer at Wildflower our focus is on REST. 

We’ve got a lot of healing and restoration to do as a congregation. That’s hard to do when operating in overdrive. It’s also hard to focus on nurturing our relationships as a community when we don’t have the time nor bandwidth to.

What does rest mean? Here’s some guiding words from the book Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey. She says:

Rest must be practiced daily until it becomes our foundation.

Resting can look like: 

  • Closing your eyes for ten minutes. 
  • A longer shower in silence. 
  • Meditating on the couch for twenty minutes. 
  • Daydreaming by staring out of a window. 
  • Sipping warm tea before bed in the dark. 
  • Slow dancing with yourself to slow music. 
  • Experiencing a Sound Bath or other sound healing. 
  • A Sun Salutation. 
  • A twenty-minute timed nap. 
  • Praying. Crafting a small altar for your home. 
  • A long, warm bath. 
  • Taking regular breaks from social media. 
  • Not immediately responding to texts and emails. 
  • Deep listening to a full music album. 
  • A meditative walk in nature. 
  • Knitting, crocheting, sewing, and quilting. 
  • Playing a musical instrument. 
  • Deep eye contact. 
  • Laughing intensely. 


  • We Heal Together: Rituals and Practices for Building Community and Connection by Michelle Cassandra Johnson
  • You Are Not Alone by Alphabet Rockers (picture book)

Both titles are available at your favorite online and local bookstores, the UUA bookstore, and the public library (including its Libby App). These are slow reads, to be read a little at a time, process, journal, reflect, and discuss with others.


  • In the month of June, CYRE will be collecting supplies for our unsheltered neighbors. In early July, children and youth will assemble the supplies into packets that the congregation can give out to those in need of care. Here is the list of supplies that we are collecting if you’re interested in contributing!
  • Keep our community hydrated. Be it unhoused neighbors, service and utilities workers, pets, elderly, family, or friends, a cool drink of water is a summer kindness. We encourage everyone to keep spare bottles of water to share with the people and pets in our community as needed. (Bonus: freeze a few bottles to give away so you can offer a cool drink during a hot day or night).
  • Pick up trash whenever you are outside to help keep our rivers, lakes, and streams free of debris.


Sunday worship services held at 11:45 am (Zoom link is available of our website’s home page):


Our worship services will explore the theme of JOY OF COMMUNITY. 

Our  Wildflower band’s music theme for the month is “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga (Orville Peck version).

  • June 2:  “Higher Love” a celebration of Queer Joy! We welcomed back the Extragrams for a Drag Church Service.  We’ll also read and be inspired by the picture book You Really, Truly Do Belong written by Gina Casazza and Illustrated by Lia Ampleva. With our potluck social in the Community Room, followed by our congregation’s annual meeting.
  • June 9 (on Zoom): “Part of the Whole.” What happens when we struggle to find our place in a community, to balance our individual journeys with the needs of the whole? Bettina Lehovec will lead us in an interactive lay-led service.
  • June 16 (blended): Flower Ceremony. Sometimes referred to as Flower Communion or Flower Festival, is an annual ritual that celebrates beauty, human uniqueness, diversity, and community. In this ceremony, everyone in the congregation brings a flower. We collectively bless the flowers, and they’re redistributed, with each person bringing home a different flower than the one they brought. Our flower ceremony coincides this year with the celebration week of Juneteenth. Joy is our human birthright and this month we celebrate the palpable joy felt in our Texas communities and beyond. We celebrate Black Joy as one of the beautiful flowers that makes our bouquet of Wildflowers complete.
  • June 23 (blended): Singing Bowl Sound Bath for the Summer Solstice. We celebrate this time of reflection, nourishment, and rest as guest worship leader Sandee Conroy aka the Singing Bowl Lady offers a chance to “be bowled” with a crystal singing bowl sound bath.
  • June 30 (on Zoom): The joy of our connection to the wider UU community, join us for a virtual watch party of the Sunday Worship Service of the UUA General Assembly (our denomination’s annual conference).


Our services will have a noticeably different feel for the summer, with an intergenerational focus centering our services on Time for All Ages and music to guide our personal reflections and connections to the themes of the month (TFAA and music are our summer sermons). 

You’ll also notice that some of the music and readings will repeat throughout the month, offering us a chance to deepen our experience with them. 

Our Zoom tech may also be a little different to accommodate for summer vacation and travel schedules, family needs, the heat of the day, and more importantly rest for the team. 

While we love variety at Wildflower, to make that happen means the worship team, mostly filled by volunteers, has a lot of busy, ever-changing work to do every week. (Did you know that there are over 20 roles/tasks needed every Sunday to produce our blended services?) We want to be able to function with a slightly smaller team, so that they have a little space to relax and be fully present enjoying the worship services for themselves. 

We’ll also pause our potluck and popcorn after services in exchange for popsicles and meaningful connections after Sunday services.

  • JULY: Our worship services will explore the theme of WATER. Our Wildflower band’s music theme for the month is “Happy” as performed by Pharrell. (Special water play after service on July 28.)
  • AUGUST: Our worship services will explore the theme of CARING AND SHARING. Our  Wildflower band’s music theme for the month is “Rise Again” as performed by the Urban Voices Project. (Special Back to School celebration on August 18.)

And SAVE THE DATE for the annual WATER COMMUNION held on Sunday, September 1.

In closing, I leave you with the wise words of the author and Nap Ministry Bishop, Tricia Hersey:

“You were not just born to center your entire existence on work and labor. You were born to heal, to grow, to be of service to yourself and community, to practice, to experiment, to create, to have space, to dream, and to connect.”

Tricia Hersey

I hope as we refresh and rest that this summer yields deeper relationships within our congregation, and that our nurtured spirits allow us to collectively heal and grow as a community.


~ Simone

Simone Monique Barnes
Director of Membership and Spiritual Life
Wildflower UU Church, Austin TX

From the Wider Community (Invitation to this sacred gathering for Black the Community)

The next ROOTED gathering, on Saturday, June 1, at DAWA HQ, 916 Springdale Rd, Bldg 4, Ste 109, in East Austin.
ROOTED is a bi-monthly Black sacred collective worship experience by and for black folxs of all faiths.

Our spiritual gatherings honor Black wisdom, music, rituals, ceremonies, healing, and text from many experiences and traditions.

Families with children are welcome.
Elders are welcome.
ROOTED is LGBTQIA+ affirming.

DAWA (Diversity Awareness and Wellness in Action) is a platform that invests in BIPOC community and culture.

This month our worship services explore the topic of CELEBRATION. 

Celebrations are important because they give us opportunities to:

  • Appreciate ourselves
  • Appreciate those in our lives and in our community
  • Take note of how far we’ve come
  • Make memories
  • Reflect
  • Be present
  • Inspire others
  • Find community
  • Mark the passage of time

Join us for our upcoming Sunday worship services held at 11:45 am (Zoom link is available on our website’s home page) and other community gatherings in May.

  • Sunday, May 5th, 11:45 am, (hybrid): “Joy of Joy.” Wildflower’s mission is growing spiritually together, spreading love, justice, and joy! Join us as we celebrate World Laughter Day with Laughter Yoga and other joy practices. We will also celebrate welcoming our newest members of the congregation. Stay afterwards for our popcorn social in the Community Room. (Speaker: Simone Monique Barnes)
  • Wednesday, May 8th, 7 pm (on Zoom and Livestream) DRUUM Public Worship Service, “Choosing Joy! Living with Intentionality and Purpose.” Discover how a joyful heart can be your sanctuary, even when spirits are tested. A celebration of resilience, purpose, and the healing power of joy. (Guest Preacher: Rev Ali K.C. Bell, Director of Music: Saunder Choi, Liturgist: Rev. Carol Thomas Cissel.) Wildflower is one of the sponsoring congregations of this public worship of DRUUM (Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries). For the Zoom link or Livestream, RSVP on DRUUM’s website
  • Sunday, May 12th, 11:45 am (on Zoom): “Celebrating Transformation on the Path” On this day, we look to Buddhist teachings and practices as a source of inspiration and celebration, as many Buddhists observe Buddha’s Birthday (also known as Vesak or Wesak) this month (Speaker: Sarah Riehl)
  • Sunday, May 19th, 11:45 am (hybrid): Milestone Sunday! On this day we gather together to celebrate the many milestones of our community, such as graduations, recipients of our scholarship program with Travis ECHS, career milestones, and much more. Want to share a milestone with the congregation? Complete this form. (Speaker: Simone Monique Barnes and others). Stay afterwards for our potluck (and bring your favorite dish, entree, or snack to share)
  • Sunday, May 26th, 11:45 am (hybrid): We celebrate joy with our guest preacher of the day, Rev. Krista Weber Huang

During our social hour after services on the 1st and 3rd Sundays in the Community Room, look for our new table talk conversation starters prompts, to help spark meaningful conversations on the theme of the day.

And, speaking of celebrating our community, our 2nd offerings this season will focus on deepening our connection and relationships with the youth, educators, and families of our neighborhood and the Travis ECHS community.

We will also have a special offering for DRUUM (Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries), which we support as a congregation, which aids in their good work, public worship, and much needed good trouble in our world.

Lots to celebrate!

In closing, the vibrations are still resonating from last month’s service celebrating the music and message of Prince, which was so rich with the diverse gifts of the congregation and the community, with LOVE being our master plan (love, not dogma, policies, politics, nor anything else that divides us; only love), and amplified by the many other iterations of love that we uplifted in April, I leave you with these simple, yet wise words of the Purple One:

“Instead of hate, celebrate.”


In joyful celebration,

~ Simone

Simone Monique Barnes
Director of Membership and Spiritual Life
Wildflower UU Church, Austin TX

A box multiple color pastel crayons and a red heart drawn by a red pastel crayon on a white piece of paper

This month our worship services explore the topic of LOVE. 

Love for ourselves, love for our friends, love for our animals, love for our family, love for our community, love for the earth. It’s all about love.

Join us for our upcoming Sunday worship services held at 11:45 am (Zoom link is available on our website’s home page):

  • April 7 (hybrid): “I am Loved.” Interreligious readings and musical reflections on love, including excerpts from the poem “You Are Who I Love” by Aracelis Girmay, and the song “Love My Life” by Robbie Williams.  We’ll also read and be inspired by the picture book I love you because I love you by Muon Thi Van. (Speakers: Simone and lay leaders). Stay afterwards for our popcorn social in the Community Room. 
  • April 14 (on Zoom): “A Sampling of Love.” In this lay-led service, we’ll hear from three different Wildflowers who will share their perspectives on different types of love and how that love has transformed them. (Speakers: Lay Led)
  • April 21st (hybrid): The Prince Mass: “Love is the Master Plan a worship service inspired by the music and message of Prince (Speaker: Simone. Special music by Goldie Pipes). Purple or Prince inspired outfits are encouraged. Stay afterwards for our festive potluck social in the Community Room.
  • April 28th (hybrid): “Love Poems for the Earth,as we celebrate Earth Day and National Poetry Month (Speakers: Lay Led – Wild Earth Team)

During our social hour after services on the 1st and 3rd Sundays in the Community Room, look for our new table talk conversation starters prompts, to help spark meaningful conversations on the theme of the day.

Speaking of love, the covenant workshop is on Saturday, April 13, with in-person and virtual attendance options. (You may register here.) A “Covenant” is Latin for “come together” and means a “solemn agreement” or “promise from the heart.” Our covenant is one way for us to think about what Love-in-Action is and could be in our Wildflower community. Be a part of the discussion as we begin the first steps in the process of reviewing, reimagining, and rewriting our Wildflower covenant.

And, speaking of love-in-action, our 2nd offerings this season will focus on deepening our connection and relationships with the youth, educators, and families of our neighborhood and the Travis ECHS community.

And, wonderful news: our Wildflower High School Scholarship Program will reopen this spring, offering 3 scholarships for $2,000 each. (Eligibility: Travis ECHS students who are Dreamers, Refugees, or Asylum Seekers. Applications will be made available through the high school.)

Lots of love!

In closing, I leave you with the wise words of the activist Mel King:

“I believe that change is inevitable and possible. And that love is the question and the answer.
As long as there are folks who understand the power of love, I’m definitely optimistic.”

Mel King


~ Simone

Simone Monique Barnes
Director of Membership and Spiritual Life
Wildflower UU Church, Austin TX

Simone Monique Barnes, Wildflower’s Director of Membership and Spiritual Life, hosts an annual gathering of artists and creative thinkers for virtual living room style conversations, in the tradition of the Harlem Renaissance. This six-week salon series of artist-led, artist-centered conversations uses a mix of art, music, poetry, dance, essays, film, current events, and/or spiritual texts as springboards for dialogue and community.

Salons are open to anyone, especially those who self-identify as an artist (in any visual, performing arts, literary, or other creative expression), art lover, or as a creative thinker. You do not need to be a professional artist to attend a salon.

Held on Monday evenings,
February 19 through March 25, 2024,
on Zoom.

This year’s theme is The Painter and the Poet’s Fire, inspired by the poetic words of Phyllis Wheatley (b. 1753 – d. 1784) “…may the painter’s and the poet’s fire | To aid thy pencil, and thy verse conspire!” which are lines from the poem “To S. M. A Young African Painter, On Seeing His Works

During these salons we focus on the artist, rather than solely on their artwork, engaging in conversations that artists want to discuss, such as imagination, creating during hard times, survival, rejection, criticism, racism, oppression, the creative process, fear, artistic expression, developing new work, spirituality, faith, religion, and more.

Join us for one or more of the six Monday Virtual Artists Salon dates, held from 7pm – 9pm Central Time, on Zoom.

(Note: The first 30 minutes are for checking in, getting settled, and socializing. The salon topic of conversation begins at 7:30 pm CT.)

Register in advance for these Zoom meetings:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Salon dates:

  • February 19, 2024  – The Painter and the Poet’s Fire
  • February 26, 2024 – The Artist’s Lent: fasting, temptation, sustenance, and sacrifice.
  • March 4, 2024 –  Identity and Activism: finding inspiration in the life and work of Jean LaMarr (Northern Paiute/Achomawi)
  • March 11, 2024 –  Living room conversation with artist Lynda Coleman*
  • March 18, 2024 –  Living room conversation with poet Joe Brundidge*
  • March 25, 2024 – Don’t Get Lost
Lynda Coleman
Joe Brundidge

Why Lent and Why Artists?

In many Christian traditions, Lent is a solemn forty-day period of self examination, reflection, spiritual discipline, fasting and prayer leading to Easter. The word “Lent” comes from the Old English “lencten,” referring to Spring and the “lengthening” of days that occurs at this time of year. 

In the book The Cross and The Lynching Tree, Black Liberation theologian James H. Cone writes about how it was artists who pushed the Church into social change during the Harlem Renaissance. “Most black artists were not church-going Christians. Like many artists throughout history, they were the concerned human beings who served as society’s ritual priests and prophets, seeking out the meaning of the black experience in a world defined by white supremacy. As witnesses to black suffering, they were in the words of African American literary critic Trudier Harris, “active tradition-bearers of the uglier phases of black history.””

This Lenten Artists Salon Series honors artists, as a whole, as society’s ritual priests, prophets, and tradition-bearers who demonstrate our understanding of people’s experiences. In this series, the Artist’s Lent is an inter-religious, spiritual season of creative reflection, self-examination, reading, meditation, and connection.

As Cone notes, “More than anyone, artists demonstrate our understanding of the need to represent the beauty and the terror of our people’s experiences.”

“Artists force us to see things we do not want to look at because they make us uncomfortable with ourselves and the world we have created.”


Examples of past Salon topics:

  • Into the Light: The role of artists in times of dread (see Toni Morrison’s article “No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear.”)
  • Without honor: The artist as prophet
  • Bread, water, and wilderness: the Muse requires
  • Raisins in the Sun: Parables of our talents

Notes for Artists and Creatives:

The artist salon is a day off, not a day on for artists. There is no expectation of performance or art exhibition. There is no expectation to talk about “the work.” The salons are an invitation for artists to participate in conversations with other artists, art lovers, and creatives about topics they are interested in.