“Don’t be afraid of some change, don’t be afraid of some change;
Today will be a joyful day, Enter, rejoice and come in.”
We sing this hymn on a regular basis – this is my favorite stanza. Those in our congregation who have come to know me as a fairly extroverted blabbermouth will be shocked to learn that I was once a painfully shy nonentity who regarded change as anathema. My father was a contract engineer in the aerospace industry in the 50s and 60s. Among other projects involved with rocketing folks into space, he worked on the Mercury program in Huntsville, AL, on the Redstone Arsenal with no less a personage than Wernher von Braun. I took dance lessons when I was five with his daughter Margrit.
All this “glory” was totally lost on me. I attended four elementary schools, one junior high and two high schools. I did not enjoy being uprooted so often, and when I landed in my second high school, I chose to fold my social tents and abstain. Change had just gotten too hard for me to bear. I attended my 10-year high school reunion in 1980 but still felt like such an unwanted fifth wheel in the tiny little town of Marion, VA that I have never gone back.
I married into a very loud family and had to get loud or die, which was very good for me!
Thirty -five years later, I moved to western North Carolina soon after my husband’s unexpected death at the age of 58. Now THAT was a change – and a painful one, but so much joy has come from it. I would not be a member of this congregation, nor would I have even discovered Unitarian Universalism, in all likelihood, were I still living in Baton Rouge with my husband. I have an adult daughter and a granddaughter living with me now, and I have the great privilege of helping to rear four-year-old Allita, who would almost certainly not even exist if our family had not been convulsed with my husband’s death.
I no longer regard change as an unmitigated evil but as an opportunity and an entrance to something good just around the corner and out of sight. Even if it doesn’t feel good initially, change is essential to the progress of life, as anyone familiar with the theory of evolution well knows.
Change drives discovery; discovery brings growth and, sometimes, I would say often, great joy and spiritual growth. People, singly and in groups, need to fully embrace change when it comes, as it always does, even when change is initially upsetting and seems to be a cause for unmitigated grief. Change, approached constructively, can be used to discover new insights, new people and more joy.
Don’t be afraid of some change!
Judy Harper, Board of Trustees