karen dill

The second week of March turned colder.  My husband became dangerously ill with a ruptured gallbladder and after a harrowing two week stay in the hospital, was transferred to a nursing facility to recover. I was immobilized by fear and doubts. Reaching out for help was harder than calling fellow congregants. I was raised to be independent, self sufficient, and secretive.  I told no one for several days.  Finally, I reached out to family, a few friends and my fellow UU Asheville Board members and staff. What did I say?  I wanted to say:  “Help. I think I’m drowning.” 

The last week of March brought rain.  And on the last Sunday of the month, a long time friend and former colleague from Jackson County tragically lost her two young sons in an accidental shooting at her home. What could I possibly say?  Every sentence seemed inadequate. When I did reach out to my friend, the best I could do was listen, say her sons’ names, and help her remember their love for her.  Saying: “I’m here in body and in spirit for you”. 

Just as I was reaching out to initiate conversation with members of our congregation, I also needed to reach out to UU Asheville for help. Just as the congregation was reaching out to me, I was also reaching out to my friend in need. This was a lot of reaching out for one month.  

Reaching out takes courage. A leap of faith is required to put aside old fears of rejection. Reaching out for feedback, for support, or for a friend in desperate need is hard work indeed. Yet, reaching out to others allows them the opportunity to reach back in that same spirit of love.

Reaching out to the members of the congregation through those phone calls brought connections I might have otherwise missed.  As we move forward in selecting a settled minister, I heard constructive ideas, helpful insights, and optimism for our congregation. Reaching out to my UUCA family in my personal time of need brought emails, letters, beautiful cards with healing words, a bouquet of spring flowers.  My spirit soared on those hard days.  Reaching out to my friend who lost her boys brought simple connection and the realization that words won’t fix a broken heart but friends will hold you close in those dark hours.  And each day, my friend was able to reach out in tiny ways to her friends who had opened that door.

Today I am sitting on my deck. The April sun is shining brightly as the cardinals sing crazy love songs.  As dogwood trees awake from their winter sleep, I watch their brown limbs with tiny green leaves stretch and reach for the sun. By reaching out, those leaves will grow with the sun’s warmth.  May we, as well, continue to reach, to grow, and to heal with the warmth of the sun and the power of human love.

Karen Dill, UU Asheville Board of Trustees