I am working to embrace the spiritual practice of flexibility.
I had planned to be at worship in person yesterday and to be your worship associate from the pulpit for the first time in my tenure as the lay minister for worship and arts. I was so looking forward to being in our sacred space again, to see some of you gathered together, to be able to look into your eyes even if I couldn’t see your smiles. I was looking forward to not having to worry about lighting or camera angles and whether or not I remembered to unmute myself before I spoke.
On Saturday afternoon it became clear that, due to some family circumstances, I would have to participate in worship on Zoom yet again. Let’s just say I was quite disappointed.
And yet, my being on Zoom meant I had the joyful experience of sharing the reading of the Time for All Ages story with my middle child, Elias – something that would not have been possible if I had been in the Sanctuary. Additionally, given some of the technological challenges of the morning, it actually worked a little better for me to be on Zoom rather than in person.
I certainly missed out on some things by needing to remain at home on Sunday, but there were unexpected gifts as well. I find myself deeply grateful that, thanks to technology and the hard work of many people, so much was possible even in the face of so many difficulties.
Life is like that right now. It all feels so precarious – our days can turn on something as small as a stuffy nose or cough (our own or someone else’s), plans are upended, events or connections we were looking forward to are changed or canceled. We are forced to bend and shift at a moment’s notice and it’s impossible to know how it will all turn out. We plan. We look forward. We hope. And then, in a flash, it can all be different from what we expected.
Life at UUCF is like that as well right now. So many are working so hard to live out UUCF’s mission – in worship, in community, in social justice work. We make plans without knowing how they will turn out or whether what we hope for will ever come to be. It has ever been thus, but right now it is even more so.
There is so much we are planning – Sunday morning worship with (we hope) gradually increasing ways for people to be together, weekly Religious Exploration classes, the Fall Festival (Oct. 17!), gatherings for musicians and memoir writers and parents and artists, community-based work to bring our values of love and justice into the world. It is unlikely that any of it will play out just as planned. The technology won’t cooperate, or we’ll have to shift from in person to online, or there won’t be enough communal energy for the cause that we care about the most.
Rev. David A. Miller preached on Sunday morning, “Hope is not a feeling, it is an action.” The community we hope to build won’t just happen; it will take all of us to hope it into being, and to be flexible and forgiving along the way, especially when, inevitably, it does not turn out as we imagined.
However it turns out, there will be gifts. Moments of joy and love and connection. Progress toward the world we hope to help create. Awareness of the sacred made tangible by our efforts. May we be flexible enough to embrace those gifts when they come.