A lesson from the birds

Dear UUCF Community, 

One of the things that my wife Michelle and I are loving about living in Michigan are the birds! In all the places we’ve lived before, we’ve never seen so many birds, especially close to where we live. Our apartment has a little patio on the back and two windows on the front. Believe it or not we now have SIX birdfeeders. Six. Never in my life have I ever had six bird feeders. Never say never, right? 

Well, one interesting thing that’s happened as a result is that Michelle has really gotten into taking pics of birds when we’re on walks or even just of the birds at our feeders. She noticed, however, that sometimes it was hard to see them because of either too little light, too much light, or the patio doors were dirty. 

I realized that clearly we couldn’t change the light that much, depending on the time of day, but we could clean the patio doors. Therefore yesterday I cleaned all of them off on both sides and now we can see out the doors much clearer than we could before. It was an odd ‘aha!” moment about being able to see things clearly based on action that didn’t require a lot of effort but really made a difference in our enjoyment of the birds! 

This one small activity – cleaning the patio doors – made me think of the ways we humans can begin to think of organizations or ways of doing things as “just the way they are.” It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that this one small difficulty is a huge stumbling block when in fact, there are things we can do to improve ourselves or our community. Sometimes they are small things that only require a few minutes, other things are bigger and require planning, and budgeting. But, when they are done, we can see the other side of the obstacle. If we can take a few minutes to step back and self-reflect, or community-reflect, we can see where problems are solvable or new ways of being are possible. 

This self-reflection is one of the things I love about Unitarian Universalism. It is in our DNA. We come from people who question theology and institutions. We come from people who were trailblazers in their careers and brought their ways of thinking to our congregations. Our challenge now, sixty-two years into being a denomination, is not letting the ways of being they created become the only way we see ourselves now. We, too, are trailblazers. Although we honor and respect the work they did, we can – and are expected to – question the traditions they created. Unitarian Universalism is always growing, always changing. As one of my ministerial colleagues puts it, we are “always in beta.” 

Sometimes the change is washing the patio doors, sometimes it’s singing a song at the beginning of worship services, sometimes it’s making sure our physical and emotional spaces are as accessible as possible for all people. We are grateful to our ancestors but we do not stop where they left off.

In November, our Soul Matters theme is Generosity. We will live into and practice being generous through our Sunday services, Chalice Circles, and the ways we support each other. Your generosity to UUCF and in the larger Farmington community matters more than you can know. I am grateful for each of you.

In community,

Rev. Karen