It was a moment for remembering how very much has changed.
Our September fellowship retreat had wrapped up in the usual way: departing thoughts, the blowing out of our flame, the refrain from our closing song still lingering in some corner of my memory.
But it was only after the Zoom screens had blinked off — first one by one, and then all the rest in a sudden cascade — that I truly realized what was different.
There were no chairs to stack and put away, no errant crumbs to sweep up, no coffee urns to rinse out or forgotten leftovers in need of a home. Beyond all this, there was none of the easy camaraderie that surfaces, almost like magic, among people engaged in the all-important tasks of preparing for and cleaning up after an event. The things that happen in-between the moment the doors open and close, and the main event.
And though some of you might feel relieved your fellowship dishwashing days have been put on hold by our online meeting places, I have to say that I miss our in-between times. I especially miss gathering for a snack or a shared meal with all of you. Now, I love our Zoom gatherings, and spontaneous phone connections that don’t require you to seek me out by appointment. But there’s something hard to recapture when we don’t have opportunities to linger together.
This month — October — feels like an in-between time of a different sort. The time when cooling temperatures means our COVID-era outdoor moments with friends and neighbors are starting to wrap up. The time when the country (and indeed the world) gets ready to breathe its last breaths before the American election.
How is this in-between time landing, in your life?
I know that, for me, the time feels right for seeking out small moments of beauty — moments that too easily get eclipsed by the climate of this so very difficult moment.
Because of this, we’ll be paying special attention to offering up opportunities to highlight joy, solidarity and beauty in our October services. And right now, I’ll pass along this small poem for in-between times, from Edo-era haiku poet Uejima Onitsura:
Cool, cool evening.
Autumn wind blowing.1
Wherever it is you call “here” at this in-between time of year, I’m so glad that in one way or another we are still here, together.
In love and service,