I remember a time as a teenager, riding on the tailgate of a pickup, gazing backwards as the truck drove forward up a hill. Watching the fields and trees disappear behind me, I experienced a strange sensation… it was as if the landscape I was leaving was doubling in on itself, folding itself up. And, because I was looking backwards, I could not see the world that was opening up in front of me.
I am reminded of how, in Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer suggests that when a door closes, one might turn around and see the vastness of the horizon that expands in front.
It is common to hear that the universe is unfolding as it should. I’m not convinced that there is any ‘should’ about it, but rather that it is unfolding as it will… as a cumulative result of all that has happened, AND in response to all the awaiting possibilities. The universe is unfolding, and our lives are unfolding, both as a consequence of the past AND as an invitation into possibility. We have a part in determining how our lives will unfold.
Many are describing this moment in Unitarian Universalism as a time when we are poised at a precipice…in the liminal space between what has been and what could be. It is a moment when we can shape our future and move more fully into the people and communities that we say we want to be. In order to do that, we need to take stock of what has past, and be honest with ourselves about who we have been. We also need to take courage…and leap!
And so, on May 7th, we are taking another step deeper into the possibility of becoming a truly welcoming and inclusive congregation. We’ll examine the systems of ‘whiteness’ that permeate our culture. We’ll talk about things that will be uncomfortable for some, or maybe even make some angry. And, we’ll imagine the new possibilities that await. I’m excited and hopeful about where this will lead.
Through it all, we’ll remain committed to the search for truth and meaning in the service of more love, more justice. And, we’ll remember our covenant to ‘cherish each other as friends,’ knowing that each one of us is on a personal journey of learning and discovery that is always unfolding. There is so much possibility!
In hope and faith, ~ Rev. Julie
Three months. Ninety days of taking chances. Over three thousand hours without the safety net of ‘the usual.’ Somehow, we survived. And, here we are, arriving back in a place that is both familiar and different…returning to what we know while at the same time knowing all kinds of stuff we didn’t know before.
Did you enjoy your sabbatical? YOUR sabbatical, I mean…the one that offered you a break from the expected and familiar…the one that perhaps called on you to do/be something more…something out of your comfort zone?
During the past three months, we all took some risk. I know; risk is usually associated with the dare devils and thrill seekers, and perhaps we don’t see ourselves in that way. Yet risks are presented to us every day in very ordinary ways. It is risky to step outside the lines. It is risky to sit with or live in the unfamiliar. It takes guts to try new things and put ourselves in vulnerable situations. Every time we make a commitment to something or someone, we are taking a risk. It can require courage just to talk with people we don’t know, especially if they represent something different. Heck, just stepping off the curb can be dangerous!
As Janet Rand has been quoted, “The person who risks nothing…simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love – live.” As I look back on my sabbatical, I realize it required risk. I took some big chances and walked into a few uncomfortable situations. I did things I have never done before. I will soon be publishing a sabbatical report in which I’ll tell you about it. But for now, let me say that while it cost a lot of money, caused some sleeplessness, put a big burden on UFP’s leadership, and created some tensions, it resulted in, for me, gifts and lessons well worth the cost.
I trust that over these three months, you also were blessed with gifts and lessons that would not have come your way if it were not for the ‘risk of sabbatical’ that we took together.
I look forward to hearing your stories of the winter of 2017!
Returning again in love,
~ Rev. Julie
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