I hope that you have had time off in recent weeks or will have some soon. This has been a brutal stretch of months. It is essential that we take time to rest and renew our spirits, because we deserve time to care for ourselves and because shepherding religious communities and working for racial justice are long haul endeavors.
Personally, I was grateful to spend some undivided time recently with my family, playing games, cooking together and even celebrating a birthday. My heart and soul needed it! My family needed it.
As I reflect on what we all have been navigating together over the last five months, I am astounded. We have created new ways of gathering, new systems and practices, new ways of working and being in relationship. In our daily decisions at the UUA, we returned frequently to a core question: What is essential?
Now that we are contemplating a longer horizon of virtual gatherings, along with the vital work of pastoral care and organizing for justice, the core question remains, even as our answers may change.
What is essential? What are your congregation’s goals and what might be the best way to achieve them? Are the tools and practices you developed under pressure still a good fit for the long haul?
If I am honest, the idea of a whole year like the last five months is overwhelming. As a parent, as the beginning of the school year looms, I am wrestling with the anxiety, uncertainty and complexity of trying to figure out what this coming year will look like and how to manage working and parenting. This is alive for so many UUA and congregation staff who are caring for children. Similar uncertainties and demands are alive for staff and households for a whole host of reasons. I find myself asking what is essential and what is realistically possible.
This is a good time to check in with your leadership teams to ask whether what you have been doing is sustainable. This is a good time to pause and reflect anew on your core mission and how best to embody it, with care for one another and the world at the center of your conversations.
Recently Jan Gartner, the UUA’s Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager, noted that the stresses of our times restrict the very creativity these times require of us. So, take time for yourself, dear leaders, and support those around you in taking the time they need. Rest and joy are sources of our creativity and critical for our spiritual strength, resilience and survival. We and our faith will be better for it.
Yours in love,
P.S. As part of my President’s Report at Virtual General Assembly, I shared this short video, Stories of Impact: The UUA’s Response to COVID-19. It is a testimony to what it means to pull together and attend to what is essential.
And for all who are parenting: Resources for Parenting During a Pandemic.