In the Interim: Reverend Terry Sweetser

 “I am here to see that my singular life is a gateway to countless possibilities. When I change, the world changes.” - Ma Theresa Gustilo Gallardo

After living March on the edge: the edge of our first Comedy Night, our financial Stewardship Drive, our annual RUMMAGE sale, April challenges us with the consequences of our daring. Comedy night was a profitable, joyous success. The Stewardship drive still needs pledges. And Rummage set financial and fantastic records.

Are we changed? We learned we could try new ways: a risky stand-up comedy fundraiser, Video pitches for the Stewardship drive and the running of the rummagers for Rummage!

Are we changing? We are bolder, freer and uncertain. Changing means our congregational life is less predictable and ironically more sustainable in turbulent times.

Welcome to transformation!

For Sunday Worship we use a thematic approach. This year we are focusing on the precious gift of our UUSWH community. Within it, are the values and questions we rarely encounter elsewhere in our lives. What do we find when we gather? And what can we share with the world? Each month we will explore a different aspect of building and fortifying people and possibilities in this beloved community.

September: Covenant
October: Healing
November: Story
December: Presence
January: Prophecy
February: Identity
March: Risk
April: Transformation
May: Embodiment
June: Zest

In April we consider what it means to be a community of Transformation.

Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God. -Henri-Frederic Ariel

Make a bit of room. Leave a little space. That may not sound like anything radical or revolutionary. But it turns out that it is one of Life’s favorite ways to make us into something new. Be cautious with those cultural messages about aggressively tilling and turning up your whole soil. Watch out for all the heroic talk about striving and perfecting, struggle and control.

Much of the time, transformation is a much subtler art. It’s about stillness, listening and waiting to be led, not fighting with yourself and others to make sure you are in the lead. In short, when it comes to transformation, the message of spirituality is “Be careful with what you’ve been taught and told because much of it takes us in exactly the wrong direction.”

Our challenge as a community of transformation is to remind each other to take a different tack.

More often than not, it’s about breathing rather than becoming better; patience not perfection; depth not dominance; attention not improvement. That part about attention instead of improvement is especially important. It’s so easy to get transformation mixed up with fixing. And fixing is transformation’s biggest foe.

Trying to purify or prove ourselves is the surest way to stay stuck. The pursuit of purity focuses us on our inadequacy and inferiority, causing us to overlook those unexpected guests that Henri-Frederic speaks of. And, friends, we don’t want to miss those unexpected guests! Those seeds brought by the wind and those passing birds are the partners that make transformation possible. They help us notice new paths. They invite us to walk with a new step. They awaken in us new songs. They remind us that transformation is not something we do alone. They assure us that transformation doesn’t have to be a long and lonely struggle, but instead can be more like learning a new dance with a new friend.

All we have to do is trust, take the hand of that “unknown God” and follow its lead. So, friends, this month, leave some room on that dance floor of yours. Keep your eyes peeled. And when that unexpected guest reaches out its hand, don’t be afraid.

Oh and if you want to try some interesting personal transformation, Patricia Ryan Madson, drama professor and author, suggests this:

 “This is going to sound crazy. Say yes to everything. Accept all offers. Go along with the plan. Support someone else's dream. Say: yes”; “right”; “sure”; “I will”; “okay”; “of course”; “YES!” Cultivate all the ways you can imagine to express affirmation. When the answer to all questions is yes, you enter a new world, a world of action, possibility, and adventure… It is undoubtedly an exaggeration to suggest that we can say yes to everything that comes up, but we can all say yes to more than we normally do. Once you become aware that you can, you will see how often we use the technique of blocking in personal relationships simply out of habit. Turning this around can bring positive and unexpected results… Try substituting “yes and” for “yes but” — this will get the ball rolling.” Keep it simple.

See you at worship!