|From the Executive Director|
This is my eighth week in a row of being on the road somewhere doing UUMA business - only four more until I get a full week home. I love my job and I love the travel but when I sit down to share a few words each month, the whirlwind of my travels make it difficult to choose what to tell you about. Almost every meeting or visit I make leads to exciting conversations about the future of our ministry and our faith. It’s hard to know what to share. Should I tell you about the exciting new goals/strategic plan our Committee on Antiracism, Anti-Oppression and Multiculturalism worked on in Chicago, or should I write about our plans for the new Ministerial Formation Network or Wake Now Our Vision legacy challenge campaign and how those will, hopefully, transform the future or should I go on about the amazing speakers who were at the last Beyond the Call - Entrepreneurial Ministry program intensive at Babson College outside of Boston?
Last night as I was flying home from a visit with our Pacific Southwest Chapter colleagues to talk about the Peer to Peer Congregational Advisor they will be piloting in the next few months, I meditated on what I wanted to share this week. I was surprised by what came to me - The Velveteen Rabbit! It’s been many decades since I read that book and many years since I used the words below as a prelude to a sermon. I suspect these words came to me because they speak to what it is to become a minister. In the last few months we have had a lot of heartbreak in our UUMA and in our world. Beloved colleagues have suddenly died, parish ministries have ended badly and the endless cycle of violence and unnecessary/unexplainable death and destruction continue with no end in sight.
One of the reasons I mainly love traveling is that it gets me out to be with you. It’s easy to forget the joys and sorrows of ministry (and life) working in my home office in Durham, North Carolina. Hearing your stories, whether they are in my zoom room or in person where I can add a real (and not virtual) hug fuel my passion and sense of urgency for our work and mission. So enjoy these words and remember that - perhaps more than anything else - the call that we have chosen to follow allows us the chance to keep becoming, and being, Real.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."