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Pillar and Cloud

As November gets under way I am feeling slightly overwhelmed, in a good way, by the richness of my life and what the future may hold for me and for our community. There is so much going on in November that my head is filled with all sorts of emotions. Feelings of excitement, apprehension, anticipation, reflection and wonder.

I am writing this column just a few days before heading east for a week to see friends and family, and for my ordination into Unitarian Universalist ministry. Yikes!

What a journey the last six and a half years has been.

In many ways I am still very much the same person I was when I decided to give up my law practice and enter the ministry. I still over-analyze things. I still offer up opinions irrespective of whether I have been asked to do so. And I am still my own worst critic.

But in many ways, I have grown and changed during my discernment process. Colleagues and teachers and mentors have helped and encouraged me to focus on listening first and asking questions later (yup, still a work in progress!). More importantly they have supported me in my ongoing need for spiritual growth and nourishment. I shall never forget one of my supervisors criticizing me during my training for NOT spending more time walking in the woods. It took a long time for it to sink in that that is now part of my job description. It is so different from my prior professional life, and a joyous one.

This month brings the long-awaited mid-term elections. Whatever the results may bring, I suspect that many of us will feel relieved simply in knowing that they are behind us, as they seem to have dominated the news for the last several weeks and months. My hope for our members and friends is that we will be strengthened by the opportunity to participate in our nation’s flawed, but not broken, democracy. That our commitment to being in right relationship with each other, with our community, and with our world, will be stronger than ever no matter what happens on November 6. I believe that it will.

We Unitarian Universalists are people who chose our faith based on science, reason and our own individual spiritual resources. We share that in common with those who came before us long ago. People like William Ellery Channing, Theodore Parker, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the later transcendentalists and humanists on whose shoulders we now stand.

No matter what transpires in the November mid-terms, or in 2020, or the years ahead, Unitarian Universalists will continue to challenge authority, and will continue to work for the common good. Our history of working to end the institution of slavery, of working for women’s suffrage, of opposition to the Vietnam War (including ensuring publication of the “Pentagon Papers”), of working for Civil Rights in the 1960s, leaves no room for doubt that we will continue to show up for justice no matter what the future might bring. For that, I am deeply grateful.

In this month of Thanksgiving, I feel extremely grateful to be a part of our movement. For me to be able to share my talents and skills as part of something much bigger than myself is both a privilege and a joy. To be able to minister to the Granite Peak congregation, even if it is only for a short time, was worth the effort of training for the ministry. For all of these things, I feel deep gratitude.

And I am deeply grateful for my family, my friends, and for all of the incredible experiences that make my life so rich and meaningful. My life would be quite empty if I didn’t have the people I love to share it with me.

(And, this month of November will bring my 64th birthday. The old Beatles’ song, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me.....,” has also been playing aloud in my head for a couple of weeks now.)

November is also the month in which your search committee will complete the first stage of its work by finalizing the information that will be provided to ministers looking for a new congregation. I am feeling excited that the process of identifying your next settled minister is about to enter its next phase.

And, as the month of November draws to a close, I too will begin my search for my next call.

As I survey the list of other congregations that will be looking for a minister next year I am feeling joy, anticipation and excitement at the wealth of possibilities.

We all often have mixed feelings and emotions as we get ready for Thanksgiving. Having many emotions welling up inside us at one time or another is part of the experience of feeling alive. It is also part of the process of creation. An opportunity to connect with the holy. And that is good.

I hope that all of our members, friends, and neighbors have a safe, warm, and happy Thanksgiving holiday.