My dear folks,
The day before the Winter Solstice, the power went out all across my neighborhood. I’d had some plans to do some work on the Internet - but, with the power out, there was no Internet on my computer. Instead, I figured I would just get some things taken care of around the house. So, I went and got the vacuum cleaner and plugged it in and just before I hit the power button I realized, “Oh, right. This is not going to work!” So, I set that aside and then went to make myself some tea - and then I realized, “Oh, right…” (We have no gas range, sadly…)
It occurred to me that this was the day before the Solstice and that maybe this might be an opportunity to take some time and stillness, to think about the year past and the year to come. So, I did some of that. But as night fell and the light faded and the power still had not come back on, it occurred to me that there might be yet more opportunity in this. So, I went for a walk in the neighborhood.
As I walked around, I discovered the borders of darkness: the next block north of us still had electricity. Ten blocks south of us still had electricity. Two blocks west of us still had electricity. But, aside from those relatively distant lights, all that I saw was illumined by a nearly-full moon and some lingering and passing headlights. All that I heard aside from the passing cars was the squeaky creaking of the trees in the wind.
And I thought. And I remembered. And I felt.
It’s been a challenging year for me in a lot of ways. My health issues. Travelling more than I would like. Difficulties with housemates. Moving yet again.
And it’s also been a beautiful year for me in a lot of ways. Moving with some lovely folks into a wonderful house. Diving more deeply into long-lasting friendships and developing new friendships. Exploring ministry here. Relishing the seasons of the Salish Sea Basin.
And, in the light of all that has been over this past year, next comes the discernment of what is to come this coming year: Of what shall I let go? Onto what shall I hold more tightly? What is ready to fall away? What is ripe to be plucked?
I will be out of the pulpit for a few weeks, so I very much look forward to giving some careful thought and consideration to these questions in this delightful interim between the Solstice and the New Year. After an Autumn of self-reflection (the “Waking Up To Life” worship series and the first half of Alan Lew’s book) and re-orientation (the “Re-Membering” worship series and the second half of Lew’s book) and grounding (the “Loving Fully” worship series and the first half of David Deida’s Blue Truth*) - now, when the light is about to grow progressively greater each day - now, when, the predominant question becomes, “Given all that we have learned through that self-reflection, re-orientation, grounding: how shall we mindfully put our values into action in the world?” And, in the light of our congregational conversations about how we organize ourselves (convened by the Congregational Organization Task Force on Saturday, October 13) and about what it means to be a “liberal religious home” like it says in our mission statement** (convened by the Board Of Trustees on Sunday, December 9), how shall we join together on this?
So, how might you respond? Through your careful discernment, how shall you mindfully put our values into action in the world? And how shall we as a community do so?
This holiday season is one that celebrates the rebirth of the Sun and commemorates the birth of “the Son”. What is has been gestating within you that is ready to be born into the world? What has been gestating within this Fellowship that is ready to be born into the world?
* Unfortunately, the post-worship discussion about this reading had to be cancelled for scheduling reasons. But, if you happened to pick it up and read it, I’d love to talk with you about what you thought of it!
** “Our mission is to provide a liberal religious home where people find a welcoming community, a stimulating place of learning and worship, and the challenge and support to live the Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes.”