Thirty-five years ago, I met two of the most important people in my life: the little boy who would become my husband, Jamie; and the little girl who has been my best friend ever since, Emily. I met these two beautiful people as a result of the elementary school community that all our families were a part of. When times really get rough, Jamie & Emily are always there for me, to this day.
Communities are often built in this way, by good fortune and shared proximity. As Unitarian Universalists, though, we come together to build community on purpose, grounded in principles. And yes, when our UU communities lead us into bonds of lasting friendship, we can count ourselves fortunate. But this is a case where we have made our own good fortune, by choosing to be together, choosing to be vulnerable, choosing to go deeper together. We are co-creators with the Great Mystery, as we participate in the alchemy that transforms a room full of individuals into a beloved community.
I made this choice on purpose as soon as I became a mom. I knew somehow that I needed UU — that I needed YOU — even though then I’d never heard of Klamath Falls, and would never have imagined myself as a clergyperson. The beloved communities that are our UU fellowships had something that the nuclear family I was creating desperately needed. Humans are meant to be together, but our US culture of individualism, capitalism and white supremacy undermines our ability to meet our need to be art of strong, connected communities. The more I participate in beloved UU communities, the more I see that the act of community care is a radical act that helps us reconnect to our shared humanity. We’ve seen this prominently in the last year as the model of mutual aid has flourished in response to the pandemic.
It is in this world that I am becoming a clergyperson, and I’ve been so honored to be YOUR clergyperson for the last eight months. At the same time, I continue to be just another human held in this beloved community. Just last week, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I was able to fly up to Seattle (so grateful to be fully vaccinated just in time!) to be with him as we begin to negotiate what comes next. Every one of you in the UUFKC community who I have spoken with about this challenging time have affirmed the importance of me being with my father and participating in his care. You’ve held me in your prayers, even as you too are struggling, after a year of isolation and now a time of both rising vaccination rates and rising COVID cases. You’ve offered me grace as I make mistakes because there’s too much on my mind. You’ve given me space to be human. And, together, we keep moving forward, slowly but surely, to get the work of community done.
I’m back in Southern Oregon, and I’m still here for pastoral care, administrative support, and of course, Sunday worship, even as I help coordinate my dad’s care from afar. I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I do know that your support is what makes it possible for me, and for this fellowship, to flourish, in the midst of it all. Thank you for holding me. I, too, am holding you. That is the work of beloved community.