I’ve just emerged from the first-ever-All-Virtual UUA General Assembly (GA)! Almost 5000 people gathered online to worship, learn, reflect, vote, and be with one another for five days.
As with moving from live to virtual worship on Sundays, there were pluses and minuses. It was the third biggest GA in history, because so many more people could afford to go than are able when attendance includes travel, food and lodging. People with accessibility issues, fragrance sensitivity, hearing concerns could attend more easily and get their needs met. And hundreds of people attended things like the budget hearings and business meetings who may have ducked out if we’d gone in person, where conversations with folks we met in the hallway might have led to coffeeshops instead of business.
We had great worship (some of which you gathered to see on Sunday) and speakers and thoughtful business meetings. All went well, and people were patient with the inevitable technical glitches. I will say though that by the end of the five days I was physically aching to see the bodies of people I love. I felt skin hunger, the need to hug and smile and gaze at one another. This was my thirty-fourth GA (!!!!) so I have now met hundreds of people from all over that I only get to see annually. Alas. Their names in Zoom boxes were hardly enough.
For me, now, time in the garden with my hands in the dirt restores me when online connection becomes too thin, too inadequate. The Monday morning after GA it had stormed all night and was lightly raining—a perfect time to gather plants for a new perennial garden I am putting in. I put on rainboots and went to a corner where they are preparing to build a new house. The old one is torn down and eventually the plants that are left will be bulldozed into a new yard. So I was able to sneak over an orange plastic fence and dig up butterfly weed, astilbe, lilies, tansy, I went by a few friends’ houses who gave me additional perennials. I came home wet, filthy, and absolutely happy, with the plants I needed to start plant my boulevard, not having spent a single cent. I felt the kind of simple happiness I associate with childhood adventures.
Some other folks from UUCM were at General Assembly, too, and I hope you’ll ask them how it was for them and what they learned! Some of the events are available online to see, and I encourage you to take advantage of them.
With warmest wishes,
This weekly pastoral message by the Interim Ministry Team comes out on Wednesdays. Rev. Meg, Rev. Terri and Arif will take turns writing or recording a video.