Dear UCM Members & Friends,
Following our 2021 Annual Meeting last Sunday, May 16, and looking forward to the final few Sundays of our 2020-21 Church Year, I find my attention swirling, drifting, wandering … settling, being disturbed, then re-settling again …
I imagine my attention to be like a feather, being lifted and carried by gentle Spring breezes, then sudden urgent gusts of wind, then sort of dampened and ground into wet soil by downpouring rain.
At one moment, I may find myself feeling buoyed and lifted up by you all, held and appreciated, my attention focused on feeling hopeful, grateful, carried, and loved.
At other moments, I find my attention suddenly distracted, darting in unexpected directions, being called to attend to something surprising, seemingly urgent, or new …while at still others, I find my attention, this feather, to be just sort of depressed, ‘down in the muck,’ sloppy and messy and drenched!
These varying emotions and ebbs and flows of energy, focus, and attention are not only not the ‘fault’ of anyone or anything in particular … I am also sure that they are rather similar to emotions being felt by so many others of you, my fellow UCM community members and friends, near and far, close and distant … all of you who may still be strangers to me personally, but who are connected to each other through the ‘web of all existence’ that unites us all, as well as those of you who have become no longer strangers to me, over the past (nearly) four years that I have been working part-time here at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier!
It isn’t necessarily in my ‘job description’ to wax poetic about the work I do here, as the Congregational Life Coordinator, working closely with our growing, diverse, and multi-lingual Membership & Hospitality Committee and our committed, conscientious, and collaborative Communications Team … but this May in particular, I find myself thinking, “How can we do anything but wax poetic about what is good in our lives, in order to cope with and make it through everything else that isn’t so good!?”
So, I ask that you float along, just for a page or two, with this feather of attention …
The muddied brown soil smooshed around this feather finds itself slowly but surely dried by the warm sun and more gentle breezes that follow those frequent downpours … the nutrients in the soil soak into the ground and encourage seeds, long-dormant, to grow, stretch, and reach up to greet that sunlight and warmth … and the breezes gently nudge that feather free from that nutrient-rich soil, free from the muck, free to once again float gaily by the many trees, flowers, shrubs & bushes, animals, insects, birds, and bugs that are also alternately being drenched by rain, then dried and set free to grow.
The growth we find through rest, sunlight, warmth, tending, caring, and connection can genuinely only be possible when we are periodically drenched and soaked in the mud and muck! We all have this (and so much more) in common with all living beings.
Pain, struggle, sadness, and the like offers each of us something we really can’t live without — empathy. As we have all struggled through this past year with so many feelings of pain, fear, struggle, anxiety, sadness, hurt, and depression … from losing loved ones, to fearing being close with each other … from struggling to adjust to changes, to hurting from all the (seemingly constant) discomfort … we have also, all of us, had so many opportunities to learn and grow from these painful experiences!
We have all learned so much about viral transmission, public health, and safety … we have all grown so much through building networks of mutual aid and caring … we have all struggled with and learned so much about structural, systemic, cultural, and institutionalized racism – as well as conscious and unconscious biases – and the effects of that racism (and sexism, classism, and so many other -isms) on all of our lives, collectively … and through it all, we have had countless opportunities to empathize and grow with ourselves and each other.
I hope that you all can see how amazing you are! How strong, resilient, and inspiring this community is — and that this community is strong, resilient, and inspiring, in part, because of YOU. Each and every one of us is interconnected … and I hope that this Spring and Summer, you will be able to take so many deep, renewing breaths of fresh Springtime and Summertime air in these Green Mountains of Vermont, knowing that you are enough. More than enough! You are amazing. You are strong, resilient, and inspiring … to me, to each other, and to the world.
It is okay to let go, to step back, to allow others to take on the mantle you have been carrying. It is more than okay to encourage others to learn and grow (even to struggle a bit) as we all work (and play) together to build this Beloved Community!
It is necessary, radical, and essential — to rest. To care for ourselves, those we love, and each other as we are able, and to allow (and encourage) others to care for each other, those they love, and themselves, and us! You deserve love and care. They deserve love and care. We all deserve love and care.
Thank you, for being you! And for being an essential, integral, Beloved part of this community, the one we are all building together. Please, reach out any time! I may only work here 22 hours a week, but I will return your call/email as soon as I possibly can, and I would love to meet up with you in person (if and when it is safe to do so) outdoors, masked, and/or at a distance when and if that is comfortable, for tea/coffee and conversation about what our UCM community means to you.
In love & gratitude,
Elaine Ball ~ Congregational Life Coordinator
Unitarian Church of Montpelier | 130 Main Street | Montpelier, VT 05602
(802) 595-9801 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
“When I breathe in, I’ll breathe in peace (to & from my community) … when I breathe out, I’ll breathe out love (to & from my community).” — Sarah Dan Jones, parentheses added — watch video here