Making Space for Something New
During the short chilly days of January, I read plant catalogs and dream of lush gardens.
I skim the pictures, noting what each plant needs to thrive and imagine all the colorful things that might grow in my yard. This year I went a little nuts and ordered not just strawberries and a new raspberry, but also two banana trees. The bananas won’t grow fruit, but if they survive they’ll be ten feet tall and, I hope, block some of the fierce afternoon sun from a seating area. The only problem is, ten-foot-tall banana trees take up a lot of space that we don’t really have in our small city yard. If they’re going to survive we’re going to have to relocate a whole bed of established native pollinators to make room.
Later this spring I will conclude my ministry at ERUUF. I’m not retiring, just pressing pause to listen for what wants to happen next. And after twenty-six years of ministry, much of it spent trying to figure out how to create and maintain new systems, and especially after two years of pandemic, I desperately feel the need for some real downtime. So before I plant anything new in my daily life, I’m going to first prune back long-standing patterns of work, as well as some aspects of my identity.
As part of this, when I leave ERUUF I will stay away for a while. This is customary for Unitarian Universalist ministers and our close family members too, just as it is for other denominations. Even more, because the people are really “the congregation,” we don’t just stay away from the building—we also stay away from the people. We do this because it can take a while to establish trust in new relationships, and so the new minister has room to take root and thrive in their own vibrant way. If you and I see each other around town in the coming months it’s totally ok to say hello, and important to remember that I’ll no longer be your minister.
I’ve learned that ending a ministry goes so much better when it’s intentional, so over the course of the coming weeks I’ve set up times to meet up with people in public spaces. Anyone who wishes is welcome to pick a time to join me at a coffee shop, a public park, or online for conversation and the chance to say goodbye.
Tuesday, May 10, 2:00 - 3:30 pm, Caribou Coffee, 1408 E. Franklin St, Chapel Hill
Tuesday, May 10, 7:00 - 8:30 pm, Virtual (Adult) Beverage Hour, Zoom Link (TBA in e-news/website)
Wednesday, May 25, 10:00 - 11:30 am, Sandy Creek Park Pavilion, Durham
I don’t expect this will be of interest to everyone, but when people have been in relationship with each other, it can be important to share memories, say what the relationship has meant, and wish each other well. And so we’re also planning a larger gathering on campus on Saturday evening, May 21, and a brief ritual at the end of the Annual Meeting on May 22. I look forward to this chance to say an intentional goodbye in support of all the new things that want to bloom and grow in this beloved community.