Jan. 28, 2019.

By Senior Minister Rev. David A. Miller.

I went to work out on Friday and the gym was full of furloughed workers. People were talking about the ridiculousness of the whole situation and then a discussion about the logistics of insurance broke out among the five workers waiting for class to begin.

As I listened to these furloughed workers, I guess because of my calling in life, I wanted to ask them much more than how they are going to figure out the logistics of their insurance. I wanted to ask them how they were doing spiritually, what might help them through these times, if they needed any financial assistance, if they are a part of a community of spiritual support. Then, class started and we went our separate ways.

Sometimes we understandably want our religious institutions to be a refuge from the ridiculousness of politics and the trials and tribulations of the everyday world – a place of peace, beauty and serenity in the ever-swirling outrageousness passing as American politics these days. And yet, how can we separate religious life from the spiritual damage being done to our country, our institutions and our people?

It is a fine line to walk: Our need for comfort and solace and the call of our faith to create heaven on earth, to practice deeds not creeds and to make sure our moral voice is heard. These needs cannot be separated from the other parts of our lives. We are whole human beings. Our public lives, our private lives, our work lives, our hopes, our fears, our joys, our sorrows – we bring all of that into our Sanctuary, our small groups, our committee meetings and all the associated aspects of our congregational life. And, on any given Sunday, or any other day of the week for that matter, we all will need to tend to different parts of that wholeness depending on what is happening in our lives and in the world.

We often have no idea what is happening in the lives of those sitting next to us on Sunday or any other day for that matter. We won’t know until we ask and listen. I am guessing most of us would welcome being asked on days when life is a little hard to take. And, it also is nice sometimes just to be, sitting, breathing and grateful in a community of love and support, accepting of our wholeness.

These are challenging times. There is no one clear path, no one right way to proceed. How wonderful it is that we can be there for each other through all this messiness. And although the furlough is behind us (hopefully for good), maybe you know someone who could use this kind of support for any number of reasons. Please, invite them to join you some Sunday.

Sometimes this kind of reaching out feels against our UU grain, but here is the thing: You never know how doing so could help someone – maybe much more than you could ever know. Maybe that invitation shouldn’t be about how we feel about inviting someone; it should be an act of grace – of offering someone in need a place of spiritual refuge.

We never know what is possible until we try.