Ponderings of our Spiritual Life Director 5-20-20

I continue to hold you, your community, and all of our people in my heart and in my prayers. I know adjusting to this new reality is heartbreaking. I also believe congregations who continue to lean into their mission and life-saving ministry will find ways to thrive in this time. Ministry is so deeply needed. As is moral leadership rooted in community care and in science. May we keep offering this to our communities.

–Yours in love and gratitude, Susan

(Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President, https://www.uua.org/pressroom/press-releases/message-uua-president-updated-guidance-gathering)

This past Sunday, we talked a bit about the UUA’s new recommendation about how to continue with church during this pandemic. They are suggesting, and with good reason, to keep things mainly virtual until May of 2021 (please click on the above link and read).

As Rev. Susan says, “Take a moment to breath. I know this is significant.”

I miss you all SO much. I’ve had to do a lot of breathing through this, especially every time I step into our sanctuary and I see our new chairs– symbolic of our pulling together– and I think about all the wonderful and sacred times we’ve created together in that space we call our “spiritual home”. I miss the buzz, the hugs, the tears, the smiles, the food, the stories, the creativity, the singing, the Spirit of Life moving between us.

So, I ask myself– how do I (we) move forward with hope, joy, and our deepest values? How do we persevere as a community?

There’s a few places of creativity that I’ve been working from and I’d like to share two of them with you in order to encourage you to join in this creative process with me!

First, let’s lay out a purpose for worship. We come together on Sunday mornings because we give each other what we cannot find alone- community, yes, but also encouragement to spiritual growth, explorations of how our principles and our mission can be lived, and we lift up our deepest values together, reminding us of our value as agents of change. On Sunday mornings, we can sense the power of we, and it launches us into ways of doing good deeds and changing the world.

This is holy work, and that is why worship is created and crafted with such care. That’s why we care for our physical space and tend to the way in which a worship service is presented. And it is a joy, an honor, and a blessing to be able to do that work together.

Thus, one of the places from which I’ve been working is in honoring the work we did before this pandemic to create a safe, spiritual space. It may seem like a challenging task, translating an in-person gathering to a virtual one, and indeed it is! We’ve stumbled through a few things, I’ve asked you to embrace imperfection (and you’ve been so gracious!), and we’ve just been grateful to be together. But, as it seems that we’ll be on this virtual journey for a while, I’ve realized that I need to refine it.

Remember (how could we forget?) how we sung ourselves into worship? As soon as we start singing, we are working together to create that sacred space, center ourselves, and begin our spiritual work. It’s beautiful! But, singing together on Zoom, well it doesn’t work so great. This Sunday, however, we’ll start something new because I have been working on a way to come into our virtual sanctuary with intention and care. Can’t wait to try it out!

I’m also working on different ways to do chalice lightings, joys and sorrows, offertory, hymns, and meaningful and engaging ways to deliver our message. Have an idea? Let me know!

The other way I’ve been managing to keep hope alive, the hope of us being able to persevere as a loving community through this pandemic, is by envisioning our first big gathering-back-together event. I’m dreaming of a flower communion. Keyno is dreaming of dancing together again! I’m imagining a day long celebration in which we can honor the challenges, the sadness, the loss that we’ve experienced, embrace the joy and the blessing of being together again, and stir up hope for all of us as we move forward.

What do you envision for our first big gathering-back-together event? Tell me! It may seem a long ways away, but it’s never too early to start planning!