Here, Together: June 2021

Yes, it’s finally the growing season. Although – as someone who used to believe I had a “brown thumb” – I didn’t always appreciate the magic of this season. Having spent too much of my life being in transit between one place and another, I typically didn’t stay still long enough to notice when plants needed my attention. Until, of course, it was too late.

Surprisingly, two aspects of this pandemic time have grown me into a bit more of a “plant person.” First, spending so much time at home has given me the space to pay more attention, to check on – and to appreciate – my plants every day. No surprise: they, in turn, seem to be appreciating this attention! Also, our big experiment in moving fellowship life online has given me way more tolerance for trying new things.

Somehow, this all translated into modest success last year with a variety of herbs and vegetables, along with a wild card – an unfamiliar and gigantic climbing plant called Madagascar spinach.

This year I’ve graduated to growing plants indoors from seed and replanting them in my balcony garden. I can hardly believe it: somehow I’ve grown into a person who is able to grow a small amount of food, and who might – finally – be entrusted with the care of plants!

But there’s something else on my mind, this season. Before I transition into my own time away in July, I wanted to make sure to share my appreciation for three individuals who have their own special connections to the growing season. Ulrike Galasinski, Jo El Miano, and Kerriann Richards are the staff team at the fellowship, and how grateful I am to be able to partner with such amazing collaborators!

All summer long, Ulrike – your Religious Education Coordinator – lives for her backyard garden. Through the long winter and spring, however, she’s offered gifts of imagination, creativity, and deep commitment to the spiritual growth of families and children as she’s helped to regrow your RE program. Remarkably, she did this 100% remotely, having had no opportunity to meet members of the fellowship community face to face until the wonderful and celebratory RE bonfire she hosted this past May. We’ll release Ulrike to her garden at the end of June, and will look forward to welcoming her back in the fall!

Jo El – your Music Director – has been on a steep learning curve this year. Many of you may not know that because your services and congregational activities are now held over Zoom, strict copyright laws regulate all of the music you hear online. With Jo El’s help, the fellowship purchased subscriptions to two music licensing programs. Still, she has to do careful checking to make sure each piece of music is cleared for performing or streaming. Often permission has to be sought directly from writers and performers. In addition, Jo El is tasked with forwarding modest financial contributions to musicians whose videos we use, and with reporting all music we perform to the licensing companies. I’ve heard Jo El is in training to become a Master Gardener, and I know she’ll be looking forward to a welcome summer break in her own garden!

Kerri was still settling into her position as Office Assistant when she had to quickly transition to working from home, after the Palmer Street building was closed down in March, 2020. Kerri has two main spheres of responsibility. She manages bookkeeping and record-keeping for the fellowship, and in addition takes care of bill payments, payroll, bank deposits – all the hands-on financial and administrative tasks that keep the organization running. Kerri has a special gift for updating systems to enhance efficiency and flow, so thank you, Kerri! She also wears a communications hat: she produces and distributes the E-News, the digital version of The Chalice, and promotes fellowship activities via social media. You may not know that Kerri chooses all the stunning flower and nature images you see in your E-News each week, bringing welcome glimpses of the living world into what has been – for many of us – an extremely barren year. Kerri’s responsibilities continue through the summer, though we hope she will still find time to appreciate summer outdoors in the North Country.

Remembering to pay attention, to offer appreciation, and in the end – receiving the surprise of growing into someone new and unexpected: just a few of the many gifts I’ve received this year from being here, together with all of you.

In love and service,
 Rev. Nicoline

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