Dear UU Church of the Brazos Valley,
As we embark on this season of holidays and holy days, I hold you and our faith community in deep care. This season will be different than any we can remember. We cannot gather in our sanctuaries and sacred spaces, bedecked with greenery and poinsettias. We cannot gather close together in candlelight and song. Our dearly held traditions that bring so much joy to this season of magic and beautiful darkness will be pared down, virtual, even canceled altogether. It’s heartbreaking to think of going through this season without the company of extended family and friends. And for so many of us who have lost loved ones, our grief will be heavier during the holidays—especially in a year such as this. It reminds me that it is more important than ever that we let the people in our lives know how much we care about them. We need each other now more than ever. I am grateful for the ways technology allows family and community and colleagues to gather and support each other across great distances. In this spirit, I offer this holiday video message to you and your congregation. I invite you to use it in an upcoming worship service.
Now is the time to lean in more to relationships of care and compassion, to lean in more to our interdependence. Gathering virtually, calling our friends, checking in on each other—it matters. One of the things keeping me rooted these days is remembering to take it one day at a time. It is so easy to focus on missing what cannot be or the difficult road still ahead in the pandemic. In staying attentive to the present, I am able to attend to my grief, while also being open to the affirmation of life that is still very much present. My hope for each and every one of us, in the midst of a season so often marked by hectic to-do lists and the recreation of some “perfect holiday,” is that we give ourselves permission to rest, to simply be, rather than always doing. To tend to the grief and the joy that is a part of our lives. To make room in our days for our spiritual care and renewal. Just as the earth takes time to rest in the winter, let us remember the gift of darkness that is part of this season—a reflective moment in the cycle of life. In the words of Buddhist teacher Stephanie Nobel: “Dark is the rich fertile earth that cradles the seed, nourishing growth. Dark is the soft night that cradles us to rest. Only in darkness can stars shine across the vastness of space... There is mystery woven in the dark quiet hours. There is magic in the darkness... We are born of this magic.” I send you all my love and many, many blessings during this holiday season. Yours, Susan P.S. There are exciting opportunities to UU the Vote in Georgia including partnerships with GA Equality to reach pro-equality voters and youth and young adult LGBTQ+ led voter engagement events. Check out UUtheVote.org for details to get involved. Here is the full reading “In Celebration of Winter Solstice” by Stephanie Nobel.
Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray spends her days strengthening the thriving mission of this faith. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family and playing with their dog, Hercules.