Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme and the state of the church. This month’s post is offered by Betty Hartnett.
The theme for September is “Renewal.” Renewal is an everyday happening in our lives. We renew our prescriptions, our subscriptions, our driver’s license and licenses of all kinds; even girl scout outfits are going through renewal. We also renew our hopes, our dreams, our spirits, our efforts, our energy, relationships, acquaintances, commitments, responsibilities, vows, and so on. The root word, “new,” is an adjective and can be defined as “of recent origin, having but lately come or been brought into being.” The word, “renew,” is a verb meaning to take up again or resume, to restore or replenish. “Renewal” is a noun meaning the art of renewing.
While the idea of renewal is familiar, the process can be elusive and is seldom easy. That is because renewal assumes change is necessary, and change implies loss and also requires imagination, will, ideas, self-searching, sharing, re-building, vision, and more. Typically, many steps must happen in successful renewal.
Since early this year, we have been immersed in renewal. Firstly, we’ve lost the opportunity to meet in our building and be in three-dimensional space on Sunday mornings and in our meetings during the week. This loss has forced us to find another way of being together and supporting our community. Fortunately, Zoom was available. Zoom had been used since 2013 as a means for videoconferencing. It was founded by a Chinese American billionaire, Eric Yuan, an American citizen. Thanks to Zoom our gatherings have continued, albeit changed, and thanks to the dedication, know-how, learning, and plain hard work of a number of people who are part of our church, whom we all know and greatly appreciate.
While this renewal of how we experience our community has been amazingly successful, it will be interesting as COVID-19 is contained with vaccines in the future, how our life as a community will go on. In a way we will have to “renew” our old way of doing things. Or will our experience with Zoom help our renewal look different than our old ways of doing things? What kinds of things will be different? Will Zoom continue in our lives in some way? Will we remember this renewal period with Zoom as a bump in the road or as a springboard to things unknown, or as something to draw upon in other future challenges?
We’ve also been in the process of renewal with two other endeavors. One involves getting to know our new minister, Reverend Lisa. This renewal of minister-community relationship has been a joyful one from my angle, but I’m sure for Reverend Lisa it will bring its challenges as she learns about us and begins her developmental ministry with us. The other renewal endeavor is our work to grow in our understanding of racism and how we can identify and reduce our own racist traumas, tendencies, and behaviors. We have been studying Resmaa Menakem’s book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, a highly recommended experiential invitation to renew one’s personal relationship with racism. Here’s to our continued renewal in each new area life calls us toward.
— Betty Hartnett
Member, UUCM Board of Trustees