On August 17, 2014 I will return to the Congregation full time and am ready and grateful for another year of congregational life.
In June I left for Providence, Rhode Island to attend General Assembly along with thousands of other Unitarian Universalists. I was appointed by the UUA's Board of Trustees to serve as a Commissioner on the UUA's Commission on Social Witness last year. I tell you this because General Assembly is very different for those of us who serve. Our week is packed with meetings, follow-up and preparation for plenary sessions where delegates vote on the business of the UUA. Though I'm glad to serve it doesn't leave time for workshops and other gatherings. It's simply the nature of the work. I did have a chance to attend the Barre Street and Ware lectures and worship. You will hear many themes from our pulpit that originated in Providence. I then visited our home in New York and spent some time with family in New York and Canada. After a few weeks I decided that I was well rested and wanted to return home for the remainder of my time. I truly missed Florida and being among you.
Oh I must not forget my husband, Richard! Of course I missed him as he remained in Florida. I returned home with my youngest son, Robert. Robert lives in New York on the border of the U.S. and Canada. We helped Robert move from Massachusetts to New York when Richard and I left Rhode Island for New York. It was nice having him close. Then life happened and I realized I wanted to serve a congregation in Florida and was invited to serve. You may have heard of this incredible Congregation. Richard and I decided that we would move south leaving Robert very far north. Our family is very open with our lives. You may know that Robert has schizophrenia and has been healthy for years. Our family decided during Robert's recent visit that we would all enjoy being closer. Robert has decided to move to Florida and we support him. It wasn't an easy decision. We are accustomed to the services Robert requires in the northeast -- particularly progressive and on the cutting edge Massachusetts.
We were concerned and dismayed with what Florida had to offer Robert. Having been required to be advocates as well as parents for our sons for many years we didn't flinch. We, including Robert, have chosen services and clinicians we are comfortable with. This means Robert will be living with us until we all feel he is ready to transition into a home of his own. Richard and I forget that this may all sound concerning to some. We've successfully transitioned both of our sons many times at different milestones in their lives. When you share your life with someone with a disability it sometimes becomes the typical way your family functions. We make sure everyone has what they need just like any other family. It becomes unconscious routine.
This is how our family works. So no worries. This is simply another day in our lives. We are grateful to have Robert near and share in his life. Our oldest son, Antonio, is perfectly happy remaining in Massachusetts where he has friends, a job, a girlfriend, and the UU church where he was raised as a boy and now serves on committees and sings in the choir as an adult.
Back to my summer! I am leaving for Minneapolis on August 11, 2014 and returning to our pulpit on August 17. I will be working with four other Commissioners to develop and write Statements of Conscience, the UUA's official position, on Reproductive Justice and beginning our work on Escalating Inequality. I'm positive we will change that title. We wouldn't want anyone to think that we are working to bring forth more inequality!
My summer was one of discovery. I discovered just how attached I've become to Florida and the Congregation. I was elated to return to the Sanctuary and be held by this generous community. Richard and I are thrilled to be living in North Palm Beach.
I discovered that I am at a different place with my children. They have grown into amazing adults. I have to remember they are adults. I discovered that we all realize we share more than we thought. We laugh and cry retelling stories of our journey together. We enjoy one another more than ever. I've discovered that the man I've loved dearly for 24 years is strong enough and willing to make sacrifices for my calling and my happiness. He is quite happy to do so, rediscovers his passions and joys, and finally has the opportunity to feel that this is his Congregation and not simply the church that his husband serves. It's been a long time since Richard has been able to embrace and feel held by a congregation.
I've discovered that I am more vulnerable now than at any other time in my life. A myth about vulnerability is that it is a weakness. Being vulnerable, for me, is a powerful and authentic way to live. Author Brene Brown tells us "Vulnerability is the heart of meaningful experiences." Each of you have joined me in making our moments together meaningful thus allowing me to be vulnerable; to be open to your spirit, your laughter, your sorrows and living my call authentically. Thank you. I discover each day that our shared ministry is guided by escalating love, trust, and sense of mission. Thank you.
Soon Anozaire, our Coordinator of Religious Education, will unveil the RE program for the coming year. We have worked very hard on this program! We are excited by offering new ways of being in our Congregational life to our children, youth, and their families. I'm counting on many to step forward as volunteers to assist with the program. Please bring water from a place that has been meaningful to you this summer for our Water Communion in October when most of our snowbirds return. May the remainder of your summer days be filled with blessings and discovery.