Dear UU Church of the Brazos Valley,
This week many of us are marking the one year anniversary when nearly all of our congregations and the UUA moved to virtual operations. As I have been mindful of the anniversary, the words of UU minister Max Coots came to me:
“When holidays and holy days and such times come, When anniversaries arrive by calendar or consciousness, Mark the time.”
Anniversaries invite us to remember, and in a year like this, that is a heavy reality. I’ve noticed the way grief is coming over me more this past week. Grief and forgetfulness and exhaustion. If you are feeling this way, know you are not alone. Know that this is expected. We are all mourning the collective trauma of this year. And we are still experiencing it. We still have loved ones getting sick and too many people dying. We still live with distance from loved ones, isolation, and the myriad stresses of our circumstances. Many of our leaders and members (many of you!) have been on the frontlines of the crises this year. As doctors and nurses and essential workers, as chaplains and caregivers and pastors, as first responders, as religious educators and teachers, as organizers and community leaders, as artists and musicians, as loved ones and family—we have, in a year of incredible loss, continued to nurture the bonds of care and love, community and hope. It is my hope that as we mark this anniversary, we remember not just the sorrows, but also the ways we have shown up for each other, for our communities and for our values. We learned more deeply what it means to center collective care and compassion in our ministries. We learned to more fully recognize our interdependence and prioritize the needs of those most vulnerable within and beyond our communities. We’ve helped people survive. We’ve cared for our children and young people. We’ve created reminders of beauty and grace to sustain us. We’ve been present to those in their dying moments and to their loved ones in saying goodbye. So many of you, and your communities as a whole, have done so much to nurture life and care and hope in this time. May this have a lasting impact on our lives and ministries, reminding us always of what is most important.
As we mark this anniversary, I offer this video message to you and your congregation to share my reflections on all this past year has brought. Please feel free to share it in an upcoming service or through your communication channels. Anniversaries, whether we acknowledge them consciously or not, take their toll. May you have moments over this week of rest and love and beauty to renew your spirit. May you be gentle and compassionate with yourself and may others show you compassion and gentleness. May you be held in the same grace and generosity that you offer others. Yours in love, Susan P.S. The UUA’s Loved into Being stewardship service is now live. This is an offering from the UUA’s Worship Web and Stewardship and Development teams to support congregations in their annual stewardship drives. It can be used in whole or in part for an upcoming service.
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.