Oh, What a Wonderful World! Imagining a More Perfect World.

Sunday, September 25, 2022  In-person and YouTube
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
Join Rev. Cathy and members of Unitarian Rainbow Unity (URU) as we celebrate LGBTQ+ lives and commit to fight for their rights. As Barack Obama once said, “When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

Purpose and Possibility

It’s been 17 years since our congregation last searched for a called minister. That means many of us have never engaged in the work of a ministerial search, and for others it’s been a while. So now is a good time to reflect on what the search process is all about and what role we all play in finding our new minister.

First, know that the process is well underway. We’ve chosen a committee to help guide us through the search process, but you may be surprised to learn that the committee’s job is not to decide who the next minister should be. Rather their task is to find the minister who can help us realize our vision for UU Asheville.

We all have a role to play and the committee can’t play their part if we don’t play ours. Our committee needs to know what we want “church” to look like, what role we want to play in our community, the concerns we have, and what we see as UU Asheville’s purpose. In other words, we tell the committee where we want to go, and they find a faith leader who can take us there.

The committee is not looking for their minister, they’re looking for our minister, so they need to hear from us. To make that easy, they’ve laid out two tasks for everyone in the congregation. Let’s do both.

First, complete the congregational survey. This is your first opportunity to tell the committee your hopes for UU Asheville. Admittedly, the survey is a little long so set aside some time to give it some real thought. You’ll find that the survey will not only help the committee get a picture of who we are, it’s also designed to help you envision what we could be. It’s well worth the time investment.

Second, attend a cottage meeting. In these small group meetings, you’ll once again be thinking about the purpose of UU Asheville, but unlike the survey, you’ll be sharing your ideas with and listening to those of fellow congregants. It’s an opportunity to begin building the community you want to be a part of.

Those are the two tasks we can all do to help. Complete the survey and come to a cottage meeting. Pretty simple.

While the search process is a time for reflection about who we are, it’s also a time filled with possibility. May we approach the search process with excitement, curiosity, and openness to the possibilities a new minister can bring.

Gina Phairas, Ministerial Search Committee Chair

 

 

 

 

Serving With Grace

Sunday, September 18, 2022  In-person and YouTube
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister
Unitarian minister, Erik Walker Wikstrom wrote a wonderful little book called, Serving with Grace for church leaders that invites us to change the lens of volunteering at church as a job that needs to be done, to seeing leadership as a way of spiritually nurturing us, not a necessary evil.
He says when we understand leadership as spiritual practice, we can “stretch in new directions.”
Performing will be Emma’s Revolution.

Magical Moments and Grief’s Strange Journey

karen dill“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.”  Joan Didion
Death is inevitable and an undeniable fact.  Yet the grief that follows death can challenge facts.  In her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion chronicles her first year alone after the sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne. She questions reality and her own sanity in the aftermath of John’s death. Embarking upon a surreal and dark journey, Joan struggles to understand the death of her beloved husband and the sudden end of their remarkable partnership.
In the days, weeks, months after my husband’s death in April (and the subsequent deaths of a college friend, a beloved 95 year old aunt, and our own Mark Ward), like Joan Didion, I also questioned reality. The order of the universe is shuffled. Life changes in an instant and the rational mind searches for an explanation…a meaning to the madness. Magical thinking becomes a survival tool.  It is a way to navigate the unthinkable and is a beautiful diversion from the agony of living without the life partner who has anchored your life for so many years.
And the strange journey of grief begins.  Perhaps, in this world of magical thinking, my husband of 35 years will return.  Magical thoughts, though illogical, can be comforting.  My husband’s shoes are left by the bed. The hair brush he owned since childhood stays by the bathroom sink along with the toothbrush. His favorite coffee cup with Thomas etched on the side waits in the kitchen cupboard. None of this makes sense but neither does his absence.
This strange journey of grief continues with magical thoughts that he’s out there somewhere. Maybe he is in the wind chimes that move without a breeze at the same time every evening.  Or is he the sweet wren that appears on the deck railing every morning at 6 AM with the same lyrical song?  The bedroom lamp that blinks at odd times must be a message.  Surely those are signs that he is present, still lingering in this hopelessly imperfect world. But are they just desperate and magical illusions in this insane world of grief?
“Grief is the price we pay for love”, said Queen Elizabeth II after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Grief is the inevitable price for loving our partners, our families, our friends, our anchors. In this imperfect world, we love and we lose that love.
Joan Didion says that we keep the dead alive in order to keep them with us. And magical thinking temporarily makes the pain manageable. But slowly, in time, the human spirit rallies.  And magic of a different sort materializes.
For me, these are brief and unexpected magical moments. Sunday’s service when the beautiful music filled my soul was a magic moment. The lit candles that created a brief moment of light in the darkness. The kind word and the smile from a congregant that fostered a sense of belonging. All magical moments.
Occasionally the tentacles of fear and sorrow that have entrapped my battered heart loosen  and I take a deep breath.  My soul lightens for an instant and my mind is gifted with the beautiful clarity that I have loved and have been loved.
Love is not lost. And knowing that love is not lost…that is the magical moment that gives meaning to his strange journey of grief.
Karen Dill, UU Asheville Board of Trustees