I’m meeting the deadline for this newsletter at 10pm, perhaps because, as my favorite Greg Brown song says, “the spring wind blew my list of things to do away.” Despite some noble resolve to get it done earlier, all afternoon my eight year old kept tugging me away from my laptop, “Come push me on the rope swing!” and “Skip with me!” and “Look at the hop scotch I drew!” How could I stay inside? There’s an extra excitement to this Spring — a sense that we’ve made it through perhaps the longest winter of our lives. Let’s savor that.
Our goal for Lifespan Spiritual Exploration (LSE) this year was to keep our connections with one another alive, and to support one another in our congregation. Not having a road map to follow for congregational life during a pandemic, we tried to be creative and scatter as many seeds as the energy of volunteers and staff alike would allow.
Many adult programs have flourished. Our several Chalice Circles (Small Group Ministry, Seasoned Souls, Soul Matters, Owning Your Religious Past, and Beloved Conversations) have been a lifeline for those living alone or craving deeper connection with both self and others. Many of you have been astonished at how nourishing the sacred act of listening and being listened to can feel even online! Some of you acknowledge you still prefer in-person, while others urge us to consider hybrid offerings going forward, since it has been much more inclusive of those who live further away, or do not drive at night, or worry about winter conditions.
For the younger set, it’s been hard not even having masked gatherings outdoors, something that sustained many families’ connections with us in the Fall. I’d had dreams of meditative snowshoe walks and soulful snow sculptures. But some seeds took root for families even in deep Winter, like beautiful ice lanterns so many of you made, with notes that these will be a new tradition! Some seeds from the Fall took time to germinate but are now consistent and thriving, like the weekly pre-worship Children’s Chapel, or the monthly 4th-6th grade Coffee Hour time. But these are all on Zoom, which just doesn’t work for MANY kids, and even some adults.
Therefore, the LSE Committee and I are optimistically scheduling some in-person, outdoor LSE events, tentatively, for a month from now, hoping the state guidelines open up for those craving outdoor, socially distanced, multi-household gatherings. Since these events will be outside, a big focus will be on our 7th principle of caring for the Earth, our home.
Keep an eye out in the e-news for these in-person outdoor programs:
- April 25th — Tree Planting with MotherUp Montpelier/350 VT
- Green-Up Day
- May 29th — Seedling Swap / Giveaway in the church yard, morning of Saturday, May 29 (let Liza know if you’re interested in growing some seedlings for this)
- Camping weekend for the high school youth in June!
Despite Zoom fatigue, it does prove accessible for many people, and likely something we’ll continue to use for some LSE programming into the future, including Chalice Circles (recurring small groups grounded in deep listening).
Highlights of upcoming online spring programming, with details to be found in the weekly e-news:
- A Mindful Cup of Tea, Friday March 26th, 9:30am (Multigenerational)
- Big Reveal Celebration for March Mystery Madness partners, Sunday March 28th, 4:30pm (see email for Zoom link)
- Early UU History, Mondays April 12th and 26th, 6:30-7:30pm. Meet fascinating and bold liberal religious thinkers, like Miguel Serveto, born in Spain in 1509. (Adult LSE)
- Online Earth Day worship service featuring kids’ illustrations (sign-up here) and interactive art in the church yard on Earth Day (Thurs. April 22nd)
- Mud Season Movie Night — short films for young and young at heart. Mid-April (Multigenerational), date TBA.
- Grief Workshop with Rev. Joan, in late April (date TBA)
Many questions are still to be sorted about the Fall, but a big focus will be community building. If you’d like to share in this effort, reach out to Liza or others on the LSE Committee and we’ll find something to match your interests.
With thanks for any of the ways YOU have stayed connected to UCM this year,
Liza Earle-Centers, Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration