From the Board: January 2021

Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme and the state of the church. The theme for January is Imagination. This month’s post is offered by Becky Halat.

Keeping Imagination Alive

What a year 2020 was. As we look back, we certainly see that 2020 put us in places we never expected. And now that we’re in a new year, we know that even after 2020, there’s no returning to normal, because normal changed, and so have we.

We’ve watched in doomscrolling amazement as crises have stolen the open spaces of our imaginations. COVID-19 has changed and taken lives across the globe. George Floyd’s murder turned our hometown into ground zero for a global racial justice protest movement. And on top of that, we had a contentious election in an incredibly divided nation and this week, a violent and anti-democratic attempt to undermine that election at our nation’s capital. It’s a lot to process, and all of it has changed our world.

I’ll admit, this has not been a year where my imagination has been particularly active. When reality seems more fantastical than fiction, I found it a challenge to daydream. Instead, I worried. With less stimulation, there’s much less to spark imagination. As someone who typically thrives on routines, I’ve found out what happens when life is entirely made of up sameness, day in and day out. It’s a struggle, and yet I’m one of the lucky ones who can stay safely home most of the time.

But now we’re in a new year. And while the reality of our situation didn’t change when the clock turned to midnight, we see a light at the end of the tunnel with access to a vaccine on the horizon, which will help to get us somewhat back to our lives from before.

Despite the 2020 challenges, we can be more open to imagination than we were before. We’ve worked to reimagine social justice, public health, work life, which categories of economic activity are “essential,” and we’ve learned quite a bit in the process. What could our imagined future look like?

And, what work should we as UUCM do? How can we change our collective future by living into our UU principles? What does that mean for the social justice work of our congregation, most notably around homelessness, anti-racism, and climate justice, areas we’ve chosen prioritize? And how can we turn our imagined reality with these topics into real, meaningful action?

These are big questions, ones which we don’t have direct answers to. I do know that our congregation has already started this work, with a long list of initiatives to educate ourselves and improve our community. But of course, there’s so much more to be done, and I know we have tenacity to continue with our efforts. If we can do all we’ve done amid a pandemic that disrupted the fundamental ways we interact with each other and the cadence of our lives, we can do anything we dream of!  Don’t forget though, taking time to dream and to rest is critical. Without the time to recharge, we can lose that imagination.

Lately, I’ve been trying to imagine what life will be like once we shift into a world where most people are vaccinated. What will that look like? What will work look like, what will social time look like, what will church look like? I imagine joyous reunions—seeing family and friends, colleagues and UUCM congregants again after over a year apart. At the same time, I hope that some of the slowness and stillness of life remains, giving us more time to daydream, as well as time to consider the tough questions we’ve been faced with throughout this year.

In my current daydreams, though, my post-COVID vaccination world is as grandiose and bountiful. Will my imagination match with the reality? Probably not. We’ll probably still need to be careful for quite some time to keep our community safe. But for now, it’s wonderful to think about. Imagine that.

Becky Halat
Member, UUCM Board of Trustees

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