Holding Story

It’s hard to believe we are already into November. The days have turned colder and I have begun the work of putting garden beds to sleep. As we turn back the clocks this Sunday, we are also invited to turn back time with this month’s theme of Holding History. How do we hold history? Sage advice I have heard from a UU minister tells us to “Look back, but don’t stare.” The wisdom of the past is only as good as it’s meaning in the present and what we can learn from to create our future.

This month there will be real opportunities to hold history together. We will reflect on the legacy of care in our congregations, explore what it means to re-member difficult truths, and- on November 14th- welcome new members and ordain a new minister. A new member ceremony and ordination both represent a commitment to continuing- to welcoming and sharing the flame of Unitarian Universalism. Both include a reciting of promises- a covenant- between individuals and congregation. Some rituals- signing the book in a membership ceremony, laying on of hands in an ordination- are time-honored and meaningful. But not everything old is worth keeping; we can also change traditions and create new ones. My process of ordination planning has led me to careful discernment of traditions I wish to hold onto, and ones I wish to change- and the use of multi-platform technology has created a new kind of service altogether.

Our times demand change. As I write this, world leaders have begun to meet in Glasgow for the COP26 Climate Summit; they have just announced a decision to end deforestation by 2030 to protect the world’s lungs. The need for change is immediate- and we must make commitments rooted in accountability together. So let us look back at history that we might learn from it; may we keep what inspires and empowers us. But we may also look with critical eyes upon legacies that have caused harm- whether that is the consumption of fossil fuels, or racism, colonization, and other systems of violence- and seek change where change is needed.

In peace,