Not the most expected title for a newsletter column, I know. It’s more common to see, “Musings from the Minister” or “From the Minister’s Study.” But I’d wanted a title that would convey immediacy and excitement.
A while back, as many of you know, we spent a long, strange year waiting for my work visa to be approved. The way I remember it, part of what made it hard was that no one could say how long the wait would last, or even if we’d reach our destination — that longed-for visa approval.
While waiting, I was briefly out of work and needed to scramble to find another way to make a living. At your end, you kept on with the daily work of keeping your congregational boat afloat — paying special attention to how to maintain energy, enthusiasm and hopefulness in uncertain times. When finally everything resolved, I chose to call my column Here, Together as a way of celebrating my relief and appreciation for being finally able to be “here” (Plattsburgh) and “together” in close working relationship with all of you.
Now, close on two years later, the everyday world has been turned upside down and inside out. No surprise: those two words have also taken on new and unexpected layers of meaning. Where is “here,” when each of us is walled up in our own homes? How do we rethink what it means to be “together” when face-to-face contacts are now off the table?
I have to say, I’ve been overjoyed at how quickly many of us have been able to retool and experiment with virtual community. Speaking for myself, even from our first online Zoom (video-conferencing) training sessions and our first online Sunday service, I’ve experienced the warmth and immediacy of UUFP life in a way I wouldn’t have expected to be so effortless, online. I’ve also had the privilege of talking with many of you by phone, and, paradoxically, I feel more connected to more of you than ever before.
I know that there will be barriers to connecting via the internet for some of you. If this is true for you, please phone me, so that I can see how we can help tackle those obstacles. This is a time where no one should feel alone. This is a time for your UUFP community to especially be here, together with you.
In love and service,