July 2020 – Message from the DRE
Have you received enough messages about these challenging and unprecedented times yet? After nearly five months of coping with the pandemic and who-knows how many more to go, I think I’ll be happy if I never hear those phrases again.
So how about this:
In a groundbreaking opportunity to really sit with ourselves, our relationships, and our realities, we are faced with situations and decisions we never could have dreamed we would experience, and a chance to be intentional about the “new normal” we are creating for ourselves.
When I worked in management at a corporate restaurant , we were advised to say opportunity instead of problem when difficult situations arose. I always thought it was a little bit ridiculous to call an employee’s chronic lateness or a dozen broken wine glasses an opportunity, but now, however many years later, I see the wisdom in it.
Let me be clear that the opportunities that have come up because of the pandemic are not worth it. The cost of human life and dignity, the corporate greed, and the ongoing hardship and suffering should not be happening and are not worth it. And – should we fail to seize the opportunities presented by this undeniable tragedy, what did it all happen for?
Humans have a deep psychological need to make meanings of things. As Unitarian Universalists, we embrace the beautiful diversity of what we each find meaning in. There are no greater teachers of the meaning of life than our children.
From the child who brought their mom to Zoom show and tell when asked to share something that makes them feel safe, to the child who insists that the virus just needs a friend, to the ones who say, “the pandemic” each and every time they are invited to name a concern, our kids are showing us the meaning of life, the meaning in these big, ugly, unfortunate opportunities, every single day.
As we continue to face uncertainty and opportunity, I hope we can all take at least some moments to let them be our guides. Let us spend some time coloring a picture before we attend to the daunting task of being working parents during this time. Let us say yes when they ask for ice cream for breakfast sometimes. Let us find the energy for one more story before bed when we can, and let us give ourselves the same endless grace we give them when that’s just too much to ask.
We’re still in the thick of it, and your church community will be here for you through it all. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to check in, to vent, or for help finding some at-home activities specific to your child’s interests and abilities. Our Anti-Racist Parenting Group will continue every other Tuesday and begin a gradual shift to a more general Justice-Centered Parenting Group with plenty of time to connect and engage with other parents and caregivers in the UUCT community. I look forward to connecting with and sharing that space with you.
In Joy and Adventure,
Director of Religious Exploration
PS – Be sure to check out our RE @ Home Resources page, which is being continuously updated and now features a playlist of past Times for All Ages from our virtual worship services.
About the author
Helen Cassara, Director of Religious Exploration
Helen (they/them/theirs) comes to us from Knoxville, Tennessee, where they worked with children of all ages and abilities in clinical and recreational settings. They studied social work at East Tennessee State University and is currently a Master of Divinity student at Starr King School for the Ministry. They are particularly interested in community ministry and the places where social work and ministry intersect. At UUCT, they manage the children and youth programs, focusing on faith formation through fellowship and fun and encouraging young people to engage with social justice as a way to live their UU values.
Helen’s hobbies include keeping up with their wildly adventurous child, trying to make the world a better place, and writing. Their portfolio includes several pieces that have been featured by the UUA.