"With No Force At All"
A Unitarian Universalist Welcome
After I graduated college, with my family of origin in turmoil, I moved to a place where I knew no one outside of the job I was working. As I young person who didn't know myself well yet, I had some messy relationships, with no healthy models to hold up as a mirror. I was drifting, and in a lot of pain. In desperation, I recalled my Unitarian Universalist upbringing, and thought I'd take a risk and try out the UU congregation in my new town. I attended a Music Sunday, and was so moved I found myself weeping. I signed the visitors book as a gesture of thanks, not expecting anything to come of it. Much to my surprise, later that week my phone rang, and it was a member of the welcoming team, introducing herself and asking if she could answer any questions. I was touched, but still held her at a distance, and let her know that while I had enjoyed my visit, I likely wouldn't be coming back; I had been hoping to find new friends my own age, and instead saw a sea of gray hair. While everyone had been friendly, they weren't the hang-out-after-work crowd I had been hoping for. And gently, with no force whatsoever, she invited me to consider the possibility that there were other young people in the same position, and wasn't it a shame that none of us were willing to step up and be the first one to stick around and draw the others near. Her words hit me like a lightning bolt. I went back the next Sunday, and every Sunday after, as I helped them call a new young adult minister, started a young adult group, and through that felt my own call to seminary and Unitarian Universalist ministry. Sometimes small gestures really do change the world.