Sunday Reflection: Each of Us

ground group growth hands
Reflection Sunday with Charlotte

I don’t have a reading for this morning.  I had one.  I had the whole reflection almost completed when I started overthinking it.  Was it too deep?  Was it too ‘geeky’?  Was it too personalized or too interpretive?  Would I offend someone?  Would I bore someone?  Do I even know what I’m talking about?

I went on a long walk.  That’s a pretty good solution to an overactive mind.  I had lots to think about and lots to say.  I realized what I was saying wasn’t what I wanted to say.  Or what I needed to say.  

I believe we all seem to be thinking a lot.  We all seem to have something to say or would like to say.  I know this because I’ve been listening.  And talking.  

My favorite reflection recently was Nate’s reflection on what this church and community means to him.  I don’t think I was the only one.  I remember listening to him and thinking:

  1. Wow, that’s beautiful.  Just what we need to hear.
  2. Wouldn’t it be lovely to do a series on what this church and community and space means to each of us.  And not just those who show up on Sunday.  All of us.  Those who “just” come or work at the Holly Fair, those who “just” come for Christmas Eve and Easter, this who “just” come for yoga or the 5K, those who “just” come to a supper.  

I remember we all talked a lot after Nate’s reflection.  There were little groups talking and inspired and reminded of why we love this little building.  

It was beautiful.  Connecting.  

One of things this church holds for me is history.  Memories.  Memories.  It’s not just my memories, it seems.  Right now, emails are funneled through me and I got an interesting message from a woman looking for information on her ancestors from 1854.  Someone she believes got married in this church.  To be honest, my initial thought was wow, that’s so cool and also I don’t have time for this.  

But what a beautiful gift.  

This place doesn’t just hold our history and memories.  It holds community history.  The memory of others—people we don’t even know. 

Closer to home.  This place holds my history.  My memory.  Marriages.  Baptisms.  Deaths.  The simply gift of sitting in the kitchen.  OK let’s get real, running around the hall, while the pies baked, and jam gelled, and cookies cooled.  It holds crafts and quilts and lace.  Things that still happen here.  

When I first moved back here, I thought “Of course, the church is still here.  It always will be.”  AND an element of “Wow, the church is still here in a world where churches are struggling and dying.”  

I also did not want to “get sucked into” the church.  Especially the kitchen and I was terrified of that.   And yet, there was always this nagging thought: “If I don’t step up (in some way), who will?”  “If I don’t do it, who will?”  Why is it “someone else’s work”?

There’s an old church I remember walking by and it sticks in my head.  I think it was in Quebec.  It was just this stone shell.  Pigeons were diving in and out of broken windows.  It was hauntingly beautiful and…sad.  

Do I want to be responsible for that?  Ten years from now, do I want to think: bummer about the church with all that memory and potential and community where I did nothing because I was afraid of ‘getting sucked in’.  I imagined myself driving by and watching the building decay and slowly collapse.  

I actually enjoy saying yes (most of the time).  I LOVE brainstorming new ideas and revisioning old ideas.  I love the way eyes light up at a new idea (or a revisioned old idea) and we say: “yes, let’s do it”.  It’s good to remember that, behind every idea someone, a group of someones, or someone else came up with there’s eyes lighting up (I know this, because I see it) at the idea.  And then there’s the ‘let’s do it’.  Every single idea holds someone’s passion.  

The suppers.  The coming together of committees to get something done.  The first Village Fair.  And let’s not forget that came out of a desperate need to repair the building.  Someone said, let’s try (blank).  Lighting up eyes.  Vision.  Passion.  Leaps of faith.  

I’ve also found that no one, no one, has a problem with me (or anyone) saying nope.  No.  That’s enough.  That’s more than I can handle.  That’s out of my comfort zone.  And the beautiful thing?  There’s usually someone who step up and say, “well, I can do that part”.  (asking for help is helpful, as well).  

The point is, we all have our ideas and our visions and our thoughts of what this community means to us, as Nate so beautifully expressed.  I think about each of us holding our own vision and what that is.  What are the surprises?  What does someone dream of that we don’t even know about for our space?  Again, whether it’s this group, people who “just” come to fairs, or suppers, or 5Ks.  A visitor.  A yoga student or one of those other faces of someone who doesn’t feel like their voice is important or doesn’t feel like they are a part of this church.  What are the dreams of the people sitting here now?  I imagine there are many surprises that we don’t know.  

This place has magic for each of us.  And memory.  We each look back and we each dream forward.  What are those dreams?   

Each of us had this vision for the future.  I’ve heard some of your thoughts, ideas, and dreams.  Each of us has a vision whether we vocalize it or not.  Whether we even realize what it is ourselves, or not.  This space means something.  Each of us wants that meaning to move forward into the future and grow.  

What is your vision for this space going forward?  (see grow, stay, new)

This is your moment to maybe close your eyes and imagine what that vision might be.  

As I was walking yesterday, I thought about Vision.  

I took it a step further.  I have a business.  I have a three month plan/vision.  I have a one year plan/vision.  I have a five year plan/vision.  I have a ten year plan/vision.  I also have a plan and vision for each of these stages for my life.  It’s color coded, of course.  

I thought about what the 3m, 1y, 5y, 10y plan was for this church.  I realized I didn’t know what it was.  Or if there was one.  The color coding side of me was scandalized.  

These visions make sure that we know what our short term goals are and what our long term goals are.  Very important for a business or you spin your wheels and end up getting no where with no idea how you got there or where you wanted to go in the first place.  This happens in life too.  Where are you going?  Where do you want to go?  Are you spinning wheels and/or just hoping it all works out?  

It’s important to know that your STGs are feeding those LTGs or you flounder in the short term and get lost in the long term.  Perhaps you wait for someone else to figure it out and you end up wandering aimlessly.  Hoping it all falls into place.  You end up somewhere that might be great, mediocre, or not so good.  Sometimes, it’s a form self preservation: if I don’t make a plan, it can’t go wrong…

What are we doing now?  Where do we want to go?  

Think back on the vision you just had a moment ago.   

Take a moment right now to expand that.This is brainstorming. There’s no right or wrong answer.There’s no “can’t”.If you suddenly have a vision for a zoo in the back yard of the church that’s just fine right now.If you want a carousel, that’s OK too.If you want tropical orange trees, sure.  What makes your eyes light up when you think of the church, meetinghouse, grounds, etc: (do anything, have anything…DREAMING TIME):

–in the next ten years
–5 years
–1 year
–3 months

What does it look like for you?   

We are the church.  The people.  Collectively.  We should have a collective long term goal and short term goals.  We should know where we deviate from one another and figure out how we work with that.  You all may not want that zoo…so how do we compromise?  What DO we all want?  Or can agree to want?  

So we are all moving in the same direction.  It makes life easier:  

If we have concrete STG and LTG, we can answer:  “does this meet our goals?” with as close to a simple yes or no answer as possible.  There’s clarity!!

Council can ask: will this support our LTG or not?  Does this act help or hinder where we want to be?  Should we do it?  The answer should be an easier yes, no, or not now with concrete goals.     

At the annual meeting, we can explore whether we on target for our LTGs?  What STGs did we reach?  Where did we deviate and do we need to make changes to our LTG?  

The search committee, with the long term goals in mind, knows what kind of minister will support our vision.  Do they have the same vision?  Can they get us to our STG and LTG?  Are they on the same page?  If we have no vision, if we haven’t talked, we are searching for a leader who doesn’t know what we want…because we don’t know what we want.  Or, we aren’t clear on what we want.   

It doesn’t mean we agree on everything.  It doesn’t mean that what’s lights up your eyes lights up mine.  It does mean that when we light up, we can decide does this meet our vision?  Does it go against our LTVision?  Or is it neutral?  As long as it supports collective vision (or doesn’t go against it) we know to support it.  

I know we all have a vision.  I know we all think we have the same vision and that’s probably true.  But we all have to be clear.  What is our vision? 

What does each of us enVision?  

How does that unfold into our Collective Vision and concrete short term and long term goals?  

1st step: what are our dreams and visions.  No rules.  Zoos, and carousels and tropical trees are a go…

2nd step: Note what stays consistent for us all and discover what are our Collective and concrete long and short term goals are.    

There’s a dry erase board in the hall divided into 3 months, 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years.  Please write what thoughts came up for you.  Your voice matters!!!  

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