It’s always a treat when I get to experience the gifts of the many voices that shape our Unitarian Universalist worship services. The testimonials, the open-hearted sharing, the vulnerability and wisdom offered by both the designated speakers and the participants: always, Sundays allow me to participate in something essential and nourishing.
And as a bonus, I get to carry these gifts with me into the week ahead.
During the third Sunday in April, we received the gift of a visit to our worship space by Unitarian Universalist Association staff person Rev. Evin Carvill Ziemer. As “primary contact” (think: cheerleader, troubleshooter, and coach) for congregations in the region, Rev. Evin has close knowledge of what’s trending in our religious communities.
Rev. Evin believes we’ve all been impacted by a kind of collective series of traumas. Even before the pandemic, most of us have been showing up with hearts, minds, and bodies burdened and ungrounded by climate change, as well as deep and ever more apparent social fissures. The effects of the pandemic have only compounded the stresses we each carry, sometimes below the surface of our awareness.
Because living with trauma affects our ability to carry out daily tasks – like the work to keep our beloved congregations robust and flourishing – Rev. Evin invited us to envision a new way of being together that doesn’t waffle back and forth between the two poles of “hard work” and “renewal.”
Instead, Rev. Evin invited us to explore transforming our UU communities into revitalizing spaces where letting go of trauma is fundamental to what we do all the time. The closing instructions were these:
Listen to bodies.
Make room for what’s real.
Keep each other company.
Make music and art together.
Move at the speed of trust.
And consciously help each other let go and feel safe.
From the spirited words many of you exchanged after the service, I know this message resonated. I also know I myself reached back to Rev. Evin’s words repeatedly this week, especially when facing deadlines, to-do lists, and all the other tasks that get woven in with caring for a community.
How might we change what we do – or how we ARE with one another – in order to truly become a people and place for renewal, at this time when life itself is exhausting and wearying? I’m intrigued, and look forward to exploring this here, together with you.
Curious to learn more about trauma and its impact on congregational life? Check out this short video made by the Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe, also a UUA Congregational Life Staff person: https://www.uua.org/leadership/library/multi-platform-trauma Or attend our May Think Tank (learn more about this elsewhere in the May Chalice) where we’ll reflect together on the takeaways from Rev. Evin’s service.
In love and service,