UUCA Connections, our monthly newsletter, includes service descriptions, columns from the Minister, Board of Trustees President, the Director of Lifespan Religious Education and the Assistant Minister. It also includes upcoming events, timely articles, and one page that is devoted to our Earth & Social Justice Ministry discussions and program offerings. Read Rev. Mark Ward’s column below, or click here to read the entire newsletter, and get a better feel for our congregation and how you would fit in!
I can’t remember when I first bumped into Laurey Masterton. It might have been at a concert of some kind or a social justice witness event. In the 25 years or so that she was active in the Asheville area it seemed like any event that had compassion for others at its center had Laurey as one of its important supporters or sponsors. Her restaurant on Biltmore Ave. was a crossroads for the Asheville community, and her courage in telling her story of working to overcome childhood obesity and then cancer was an inspiration for many. And, what’s more, she was a delightful human being.
So, as far as I’m concerned, all that you have been hearing and reading after Laurey’s death on February 18 about what an amazing force for good that she was in our community is well deserved. Amid all the memorializing, though, I want to take a moment to reflect on a lesson I take from Laurey’s life that I think can apply to any of us. I’ll frame it this way: meaning in life comes from how we leverage our gifts.
Much has been made of the adversity Laurey endured – and there was a lot of it – but what stands out from her story is how she made use of what she had to build a wonderful, compassionate life. Her struggles with food gave her insight to healthy eating. Her cancer deepened her personal compassion. The bumper sticker she handed out to whoever would take it – “Don’t Postpone Joy!” – tells the story. There is joy available to any of us, even amid pain and crushing circumstances, if we will give ourselves to it. And we find it by engaging with life, with others, with our deepest hopes and values.
That perspective is at the heart of this community as well. Here we hope to leverage our gifts to create a community that helps us live our best selves and realize those values that make our lives worth living. We make meaning in how we give ourselves to that work, in how we use the gifts we are born with and blessings of our lives so far. We here provide many ways of doing this, in opening ourselves to the deepest sources of compassion, wonder and hope, in finding ways to create and deepen community among us, in organizing and acting as agents to make a better world.
Our budget drive this year is lower key, but the need is no less. A lesson I take from Laurey’s life is when approached by a cause, a movement that was life-giving, she said, “Yes,” without hesitation. Say “Yes.” You can bring your gifts that we as a life-giving community might help realize our hopes for each other and the world.