By Reverend Diana L. Smith
The last few days of February and first days of March brought new plan after new plan and change after change. As soon as we thought we had a plan that would be protective we’d find we needed a new plan – sometimes a couple times a day.
I know that even as this was happening at WUUC, it was happening in the rest of your lives and workplaces, too. Our minds and hearts have been swamped and struggling to keep floating and swimming for a month. I’ve been amazed, over and over again, by how people are keeping each
other afloat and together across distances. This gives me hope.
Many of us like to have plans and stability. They give our life frameworks and comfort. Much of what we have known and planned for has been swept away, even as much still remains. We’ve experienced grief, fear, and chaos. And in the midst of this we’ve been forced to be loving,
flexible, and creative in ways we’d never have imagined. This is a gift, but it also takes a toll as our minds and hearts are numbed and tired, which makes it hard to tap into stores of creativity, flexibility, love, generosity, and dynamism.
In the midst of this, I’ve been reminded, over and over again, of several questions:
Where am I/we drawing from?
In the midst of all this, it’s been tempting to draw from my own self, rely on myself and my planning and flexibility, my own resources. But when I do that, I start to sink. I can’t do this alone, and I certainly can’t find the creativity, flexibility, laughter, and love that I need to do this by myself. But as soon as I start reaching out and working with others, those things have a
chance of beginning to appear.
I’ve also found this to be a useful question as I look at my spiritual resources. Early on, I wondered if I needed to drop the worship series we were doing on Unitarian Universalism’s Sources. But over the past few weeks I’ve been ever more grateful that we were doing this series. It’s challenged me to look at our sources anew and discern how they can help us in these times I’d never envisioned – at least not in this way. Being able to delve into the different Sources, each in their turn, has been extremely valuable for me, and I hope for you. It’s helped me appreciate, again, why we as a faith movement have many Sources – not just one or two – and are invited to engage deeply with them.
Why am I/we doing this?
It’s been tempting to recreate everything we were doing before, just online. But these times call for new and different things. So asking why we’re doing something, what our goal is, and how it will create more resilience in multiple ways is crucial.
What do I/we need to keep the same?
At the same time, in times of chaos keeping some things the same is crucial. We need a sense of stability and comfort in our lives. Humans are incredibly good at creating these things, and we feel even more lost when we can’t.
What is this liminal space teaching me/us?
The answers to this change each day, each week, and sometimes each hour. Sometimes they’re about patience, listening to my body, why I need to do spiritual practices each day, how to reach out for help, something new about love, or how to lean into learning new things about technology and being patient with myself and others as we learn.
Where am I/we being called?
The language of calling isn’t used much outside of religious settings, but it’s important language. It speaks to a heart- and spirit-centered sense, combined with the mind and intellectual sense, of being drawn to some work, some ministry, that is greater than yourself.
Calling grounds us, centers us, inspires us, and connects us. It beckons us.
As you know, I’m here at WUUC as your Interim Minister. I will be moving on in June and you will have a new minister, with whom you will co-create your next chapter. Only a month ago I had all sort of plans for how we’d navigate this transition together. Now those plans have disappeared and I’m beginning to imagine – with partners both within this congregation and in the wider Unitarian Universalist faith – how we will navigate this transition differently.
During April much more will become clear to me and to us as we create new plans, have them messed up, learn again to be flexible and adapt, and make and live more new plans. As we do this, may we all lean into new ways of doing things, together, and listen carefully and with an open heart for what our hearts, bodies, minds and spirits need, and for where we’re being called.
Love and Blessings,