by Lay Minister for Caring & Wellness Linda Zack.
“It is in community that we come to see God in the other. It is in community that we see our own emptiness filled up. It is community that calls me beyond the pinched horizons of my own life, my own country, my own race, and gives me the gifts I do not have within me.”
– Joan D. Chittister
When I first visited UUCF in January 2010, I was with my husband and son, and my sister, and we were looking for a faith community that made sense to us. We loved the inspiring words, the beautiful music and the openness that gave us space both to believe and to question our beliefs. What has kept us at UUCF is community.
One of my earliest experiences with community at UUCF was a Women’s Spirit Circle I joined in fall 2010. My beloved sister, who was quite ill when we began attending UUCF, had just died in August. Although her death was expected, my emotions were raw and I was processing so much. Through the safe space of the Circle and the themes we explored, I began to heal. I think I cried at some point in every meeting that first year. The wonderful women in the circle accepted me for who I was, with no attempts to change me or the process I was going through. They allowed me to be in the safe space of community, both to hold me and to give me space to move forward.
We enter into so many types of community every day. At UUCF, sometimes community is just two of us, working together or holding each other when the need arises. Sometimes it is a covenant group or other small group – or a committee meeting – where we check in with each other, explore issues and work toward a goal. Or community can be all of us coming together in worship to make sense of our ever-changing world, to realize that we are not alone in our hopes and fears, and to inspire each other to take action to make our world a more just and compassionate place. Many of us have deep faith or strong principles, but our growth is limited when we practice these things alone. Our faith and our principles need to be explored, debated, lived, created and encouraged, and we do this best when we are together.
This holiday season, I hope we are able to take a moment to connect to those around us. For some, the holidays are full of joy, family and comforting rituals. For some, like my neighbor who lost his wife in the past year, the holidays may bring pain and memories of loss. When we think about what we want to leave behind in this world, it almost always focuses on our connection with people and our desire to do something bigger than ourselves. For this, we need community.