Nature’s Gifts

Nature’s Gifts

I was scrolling through social media on my phone on my son’s last day of school, catching glimpses of the graduation and happy student-on-their-way-to-summer pictures, when I stumbled across this poem from the Rev. Lynn Ungar, called A Gift. She writes: “The middle of June, and I awake / To rain-gentle, persistent, enough / to soak the ground and clear the air. / Isn’t this the best kind of surprise—/ the thing you wanted but couldn’t get / for yourself and didn’t know / that you could have? Already / the frogs are singing and the grass / stretches its roots in rejoicing. /And here am I, with my damp hair /and empty hands, and nothing to say /but, “Oh!” And “Thank you!” /Once again the world—my one /true love—has brought me flowers.” //

This poem itself felt like a gift, at a time of year when it feels like I’m already reflecting on gifts. The end of a transformative school year for my kid (sixth grade in a new school). The anniversary of my ordination. The luscious green (and other vivid colors) everywhere you look. The absolute gloriousness of the baby and child dedication we held the first Sunday in June, where we welcomed eleven young souls officially into the loving arms of our religious community. I had known it would be a great day, particularly since we had not been able to hold an in-person dedication at a worship service since December 2019. But as I stood there that morning, listening to all the baby and kid noise and chaos, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I hadn’t imagined how wonderful it might feel, particularly after all those quiet and empty weeks in the sanctuary over the long course of the pandemic. It felt just like that line in Ungar’s poem: “Isn’t this the best kind of surprise–the thing you wanted but couldn’t get for yourself and didn’t know that you could have?”

So many moments like these—both ordinary and extraordinary—have kept feeding my spirit and nourishing my soul in these days and over these years we’ve spent together. We’ve weathered some challenging times in our congregation most recently—pandemic fallouts and budget shortfalls and staff departures come to mind—and all of these things have shaped us, for better and for worse. I’ve had lots of big feelings, and maybe you have too. And still, our congregation and its amazing people keep on connecting, keep on worshipping, keep on living our faith, keep on singing, keep on saving lives, keep on tending to each other’s hearts and spirits.

Lots will be happening this summer—we’ve got great summer activities for our young people in the hands of our nursery and preschool staff, and capable volunteers. We’ve got a wonderful array of lay voices in our pulpit, along with myself. We’ve got fabulous musicians, calling on past (recorded) talents and present ones. Always, there are many ways to engage in the life of our congregation. I’ll be the only minister around until Rev. Roger Bertschausen arrives in early August, and I’ll be here if you want to connect in any way. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

That morning we dedicated all those young lives, surprised and grateful, I also found myself as Ungar did on the morning of the rain: “With my damp hair and empty hands, and nothing to say but ‘Oh!’ And “Thank you!”. As our summer unfolds in Unity Temple and beyond, may it be so for each of us.