Reflections from Our Minister
My father was a magazine editor and publisher. I still remember days when he worked through the technical stages of his craft from home. He’d take over our dining room table with an air of deep concentration. For the occasion, his trademark tie would be loosened, and the cuffs of his neatly pressed dress shirts rolled up to his elbows.
The production revolved around a collection of items that were at once familiar, yet also mysterious: stacks of clean, white paper; long wooden rulers for keeping order on each page; large shallow boxes spilling over with semi-transparent sheets of dry-transfer typeface called Letraset, a time-consuming lettering system that functioned kind of like today’s temporary tattoos. Always, the powerful and toxic odor of rubber cement hung in the room, since only this stringy glue could be counted on to securely paste down images and columns of text.
Magazines require subscriptions, of course, and even in childhood I remember being called on to help with the mail-out of subscription renewals or other news for subscribers. My mother — ever the systems person — set us up with stations: one for folding the letters in three; one for sliding them into and then sealing the envelopes, each with their own address label; and the last for adding on stamps, which we moistened on a small bit of wet sponge.
These, of course, were only the later stages of a process that began with conversations between writers and the editor, each of them thinking, losing and finding inspiration, writing and rewriting, making a flurry of last-minute adjustments and then — well, doing it all over again the following month.
All of which is to say, I have a deep respect for the magic — but also the labor and the teamwork — behind the long tradition of the monthly newsletter.
At the same time, so much has changed since the days when newsletters were folded in three and delivered by mail. More and more of us receive our news online — that is, if we even have time to sort through the huge volume of information that congests most of our inboxes. Planning a month ahead has become increasingly difficult. And we know that for newcomers looking to learn about our movement’s commitment to love and justice, short videos and social media posts are far more likely to capture their attention than downloadable newsletters.
So, as your Communications Team wonders together about concentrating our energy on e-News and discontinuing the monthly Chalice, we’d like to hear from you.
Do you still receive a paper copy? How essential is the monthly Chalice to you? Do you actually read it from beginning to end? Either as a reader, or someone who regularly provides Chalice content, how would your life be impacted if the Chalice news arrived weekly, via the e-News, instead of once a month? By phone, at an outdoor gathering, or by email, let me know what you think.
I know this era is dense with changes, sometimes more than feels comfortable. And yet, even as our rituals shift to meet the times, I’m convinced we’ll still always find ways to share our gifts, sustain connection and celebrate the power of being here, together in community.
In love and service,
So much has been different this past year. I’m heading into summer trying to keep in mind that now and again, “different” opens the doors to unexpected blessings.
Those of you who were at our annual flower ceremony this past June will remember how we changed things up this year. Instead of exchanging flowers with each other, three of you offered up elegant blessings on behalf of the earth, each connected to a virtual flower: iris, rose, and gladiola. You gave us wise reminders about how much we need to be good stewards of this planet, helping to encourage — and not thwart — earth’s native resilience.
And then, we invited others to add their own wishes, until a cascade of “flower” blessings filled the online chat. What a virtual bouquet! I’m sharing your offerings again here, so that their gifts might linger just a little while longer:
I offer up milkweed, so long considered a weed but so important to the butterflies.
I’d like to offer a blessing of dandelion. Resilient and very useful.
I offer the tiny Johnny-Jump-Up as a symbol of appreciation for even the smallest things that bring us joy and beauty on the earth.
I offer up the rose. If you want the joy of the rose, you must risk the thorns.
I offer up all our peonies, bringing fragrance and freshness . . . such long-lasting blossoms in our vases in the house right now. Symbol of long-lasting love toward each other.
I also offer up the Johnny-Jump-Up for its resilience and coming back in surprising places.
I’d offer a blessing of lilacs that, though short lived, provide a beautiful aroma.
I feel as if I’ve been blessed with our community, each and everyone a beautiful flower/blessing.
Well, I have to say that I, too, am heading into my time away feeling blessed by the gifts of each and every one of you. Still, I’m hoping the rumours are true, and that by summer’s end I’ll be able to return in person to Plattsburgh. In the meantime, here’s my schedule over the summer, so you’ll know when next we’ll find ourselves here, together, again.
Rev. Nicoline Guerrier