Lead in Love
“We shall be known by the company we keep, by the ones who circle round to tend these fires”, the trio sang. I had heard this song We Shall be Known by Karisha Longaker of MaMuse before, but it struck me clearly on this day. Sunday afternoon, May 15, I found myself worshipping and celebrating with the First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin as they installed their new co-senior ministers the Revs. Kelly Crocker and Kelly Asprooth-Jackson. I was in very good company—the sanctuary was full with members of the congregation and lots of ministerial colleagues and friends, none of whom I had seen in person in a couple of years. Speaker after speaker reminded us of the shared venture of ministry, the centrality of relationship in all that we do, and the importance of caring for one another.
It felt so hopeful and inspiring, and when the president asked the congregation if they were ready to install Kelly and Kelly, the “We Are” was immediate and thunderously loud and full of joy. “It is time now that we thrive”, the trio sang. This congregation has also been through a lot of transition, and after having done a lot of hard work, they are more than ready for the next phase.
I always find it nourishing to connect to Unitarian Universalism beyond our own congregation; it helps remind me that we are not alone. There are many of us, out there, with similar values, working hard to make the world a better place. Some of that work was (and is) hanging heavy in my heart and mind. I thought of all that needs to be done. I thought of the trans kids who are under attack. I thought of the legal protections forged by Roe vs. Wade now in question and how the lack of accessible safe abortions only leads to more harm and death, and how overturning such rights leads to other rights being overturned. I thought of the ten Black Americans murdered in a Buffalo grocery store (really a community center) in a premeditated attack by a white supremacist. It helped my weary spirit to hear these lyrics: “We shall be known by the ones who sow and reap the seeds of change alive from deep within the earth.” In a gathering like the one I was in on Sunday, change seems more possible.
There were colleagues at this gathering, some of whom I have known for a couple of decades, some for shorter periods of time but no less dear. There were, as I discovered, a number of lay people I knew from years ago when I served as District President and we happily reconnected that afternoon. These moments of gathering feel perhaps all the more precious because we have been physically apart for so long. Relationships are, indeed, central to all that we do, especially in our congregations. Saturday night, we had held our classroom volunteer appreciation dinner at Unity Temple, and our small but mighty group had a lovely time connecting and conversing.
This may be a good time for you consider building (or rebuilding) some relationships you have in our congregation. Smaller groups are a great way to do that at Unity Temple—some that come to mind are the Mindful Reflection Group), Soul Connections groups, MyHat Support (for those affected by mental illness), and a brand new group just forming called Pathways to Recovery, which is a UU principles based supplemental addiction recovery group.
For more information, respectively, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. There are so many ways to provide and receive sustenance from one another.
The singing trio ended the song with these words: “It is time now, it is time now that we thrive, it is time we lead ourselves into the well. It is time now, and what a time to be alive. In this Great Turning we shall learn to lead in love.”
May we lead our selves into the well of renewal, celebrate being alive, and lead in love.