The last time I wrote the blog entry for the Board of Trustees was just before the pandemic began to rage in earnest, and not long after Rev. Mark Ward announced that he planned to retire (for the first time). Not being clairvoyant, I had nothing to say about the pandemic; so I went straight to the issues of transition. Having been active in the UU movement for many years, I had seen three separate ministerial transitions, up close and personal. To briefly summarize that blog entry, I was trying to say that my experiences gave me faith that, while the ministerial transition was going to require work on our parts, it would reward us with a growth-inspiring, re-invigorating and exciting time for UUCA.
Fast forward to today… The pandemic raged, calmed a bit, raged very wildly, then calmed greatly as vaccinations rolled out, and now is raging wildly again, mainly amongst the unvaccinated. Our beloved Rev. Ward stepped up and took one for the team by “unretiring,” and then ably guided us through that scary, uncertain time. We’ve now said our goodbyes to Mark, and have welcomed Rev. Cathy Harrington, our new Interim Lead Minister to UUCA.
But “transition,” I believe, is still the watchword for UUCA. The pandemic has thrown us a devastating curve ball, so the transition to normal life (or maybe “new normal” life) remains much further off in the distance than we’d hoped a month or so ago. How do we as individuals respond? How does UUCA respond? On the ministerial transition front, Rev. Cathy has been on staff for less than two weeks, and the congregation’s work with her is yet to really begin. What’s life at UUCA going to be like with Rev. Cathy? Are we going to be okay? So, transitions still abound; and I’m compelled (or, constrained by my lack of originality) to write about it once again.
The angle I want to take today, though, is through an analogy. (Anyone who knows me knows I just love a good analogy…) In The Parable of the Trapeze, author Danaan Parry analogizes an acrobat’s leap from one trapeze bar to the next trapeze bar to how we make personal transitions. Perhaps you’ve heard or read this – I was introduced to it by a sermon at another UU church. While I recommend reading Parry’s actual words (follow the link above – a short read!) for the is the fullest and best description, the analogy roughly goes like this: You are swinging on a trapeze bar, tightly holding on, but basically comfortable dealing with your current life. Then off in the distance, you see another trapeze bar, and you just know that that is where you are supposed to go. It’s frightening thinking about making that transition – letting go of the “safe” bar you’re currently on, not knowing fully what the “new” bar you’re headed for will mean for you, and deathly scared of that period of time when you are in mid-air, not holding on to anything at all. Parry’s thesis is not just that personal transitions are like those periods between bars, but that those periods are incredibly rich, and even further hypothesizes that “[maybe] the transition zone is the only real thing and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real growth, occurs for us.”
What a great way to look at our transitions at UUCA! And that goes not just for our own personal growth as individuals, but for UUCA’s institutional growth. Each of us as individuals will of course deal with the pandemic and the ministerial transition – as well as our own personal transitions – in our own individual ways. But if we all can embrace these transitions as true growth opportunities and can be brave about getting to that next bar when we know we just must go there, I believe that some great things will happen at UUCA in the coming years.
I, personally, am already excited about working with Rev. Cathy. I believe that the Board is excited as well. And I trust UUCA as a group to figure out how to deal with new and future pandemic realities. So, I’ve got the resin on my hands, and I’m swinging harder and holding tightly onto my current trapeze bar, and getting ready for that magical time when I leap off into the void. See you on the next bar!
Clyde Hardin, VP, UUCA Board of Trustees