After the service on August 30, I made a brief visit to one of the few spots on our campus that is not currently being disrupted: our Memorial Garden. Each year I make a practice of pouring the water we receive in our Water Service onto the area of the garden where we inter the ashes of people in our congregation who have died. It feels to me like it completes a circle, offering a reminder that all things that come from the earth – soil, water, us – eventually return to it. This gesture also serves to remind me how we as a community continue to hold each other, even after death. I look over the brass plates and see names of people I remember, which brings to mind other people who may not be there, and I can imagine a crowd of witnesses around me.
It’s been amazing to watch the changes on our campus. This week was an especially big one, when construction workers took out the window and busted through the wall on the west side of the sanctuary to create a new, accessible doorway. The doors on the old foyer are gone, and suddenly we have a sense of the full expanse of the larger foyer. It’s pretty amazing, and, I have to admit, a little unsettling, too. It will take a while to settle into this new space, but now that I see it I’m more confident than ever that it will serve us well.
How will we grow into that space? What new possibilities will it open for us? These are among questions that offer themselves to us. And so, your staff has spent the summer working on ways to invite you deeper into the life of our congregation where we might answer those questions together. You’ll be hearing more about this soon, and keep an eye out for where you can bring your energy and enthusiasm.
Amid all these changes, there is much that endures in this outpost of liberal religion in the western mountains of North Carolina, this crucible of community affirming each person’s worth and dignity, celebrating our diverse and evolving understanding of the world and our place in it, awakening to our spiritual centers while working for justice and learning the lessons of compassion, tolerance and peace.
How great to begin a new year!