It has been quite a year, start to finish. My overwhelming memories of 2017-2018 will be about the power of community. We talk about creating the Beloved Community, and we have lived it fully at UUCV this past year.
Truly, I can’t remember all that much before the Thomas Fire swept in, and I watched this congregation rise to the moment. We opened our doors, checked in with each other, supported our families, cared for each other, our children, and our four-legged companions. Since then, I’ve watched as we’ve grown in depth and in the ties that hold us together. Our tapestry of love is more beautiful and strong.
This is a congregation that shows up. Yes, lots of folks come to worship on Sundays. Yet there are so many places to show up – women’s and men’s groups, Open Mic Night, annual meetings, Cluster Camp at deBenneville Pines (this year Sept. 28-30), picnics, Sunday luncheons, city council meetings, covenant groups, committees and teams, Pub Theology with the minister, book groups, movie nights, late services on Christmas Eve, water-coloring, Women’s Marches, Park Outreach, and so much more. Including memorial services.
You all helped create a powerful moment at Cindy Camillucci’s memorial last month. Cindy was taken from us too soon and too quickly. Her death was particularly hard on her son, and this community showed up for him in so many ways. We organized the reception, created the program, rehearsed the music and so much more.
The minister’s main role at a memorial is “holding the space,” creating an open and safe place for grief, laughter, sorrow to arise as they will. It’s harder than it may look. In a particularly emotional moment for Cindy’s son and his father, I was holding that space as mightily as I could. Then, I looked up at you all and realized that you were holding the space with me, just as mightily. I got chills as I thought, “Yes, this is what we do.”
This is how we keep the feeling of a family even as we have grown to more than 300 souls among our members, friends, children and youth. That many people really counts as more than a family. We don’t (and can’t) all know each others’ names. Yet we can create a sense of home. This is a place where there is room at the table for all.
We show up. We pull up a chair, pull out an extra plate, show a newcomer where to wash it (because we try hard to be environmentally sustainable). We listen to stories. We reach out and reach back. We do our level best to create a Beloved Community.
With love, Rev. Dana