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Evolution as a Spiritual Practice…

Dear Friends,

March has been some kind of busy month with lots of strategic thinking, some dancing, a successful annual pledge drive with many of you increasing your pledge (thank you!), and the good news that Roberta Altamari will be remaining at First Parish in the role of Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry! This is great news that Roberta is staying for 15 hours a week but let us also be mindful that her role will be evolving as she makes way for a new Director of Religious Exploration. So many exciting changes, yet reflecting on last August I have to be honest and share that my head is spinning. We have come so far in seven months and I am very impressed, amazed actually, that when I hit the ground running that you have kept up with the pace and in many ways have outpaced me! You are an amazing congregation of loving and compassionate people! I am not sure about you but when I think back about the highlights of this last seven months I am blown away, we have literally come miles since August.

We are growing and evolving and with this we must also expect change, what you will read in this connector is that our Office Administrator, Donna Scalcione has decided that the time has come for her to transition in her own life. In conversations with Donna she explained to me simply that, “it is time.” I support Donna’s decision to make this transition out of staff and back into the congregation and wish her and her wife Bev all the happiness on their journey. As both Roberta and Donna transition please take the time to reach out to both and thank them for the important roles that they played during a time of significant upheaval in the life of First Parish! Not skipping a beat, the search teams have been chosen and we are imagining our evolving needs and the required qualifications of two new staff members, the Director of Religious Exploration – who will focus specifically on our younger children and a new Office Administrator.

Where do we go from here? We continue to evolve, however, let me assure you that the pace is going to slow down a bit starting April 1st. Our goal for the remainder of the year will be to continue to flesh out our strategic thinking based on the meeting we had on March 8th. We will review our financial landscape with the help of your stewardship committee, the Finance Committee and the Board of Trustees so that we can imagine a sustainable future. With 80% of the pledges in it seems that we will see a slight increase in pledges overall and friends if you have not turned in your pledge card as of yet I would encourage you to do so. Your generosity, as we sort out income and our budget, will be greatly appreciated. Ultimately, over the next year we will continue to evolve and debate the inclusion of solar energy on our campus, upkeep of our facilities and how we can best share who we are and what First Parish has to offer the larger metro west community.

As the buds break forth, we turn to tending the soil, and longer and warmer days arrive we will slow down a bit and shift our focus slightly. Yet nothing is static those buds have been preparing this entire time to burst forth, even without our attention, change and evolution is inevitable. Let us be truly hopeful! Let us be abundantly mindful! I offer this piece of Buddhist wisdom as we endeavor to finish out our church year strong, “permanence is an illusion” so you can either struggle against or embrace change. One thing is for certain if we desperately clutch onto a sense of permanence we will suffer. Instead, let us embrace the evolution of life as a spiritual practice of mindful witness and graceful fine-tuning.

Peace and much Love,

Rev. Marjorie

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Opportunities for Growth…

There is nothing like a beautiful sunset. Last week I found myself in Sedona Arizona watching the sun set against the red rock of the canyon walls. There is something in that moment when the colors blaze across the sky the pinks, reds, purples, and blues reflect in remarkable glory. There is something in that moment that compels me to hope and have faith about what will arrive even though the sun sets and the cloak of darkness descends. The stars they compel us to dream to think beyond the warmth of the fire glow to have faith that the sun will rise again and bring with it all of the opportunities that arrive with the dawn. This is what happens when I go on retreat I wax poetically about life and how amazing it is even though at times it can feel daunting. Heraclitus, the pre-socratic Greek pioneer of wisdom, once shared that, “The only thing that is constant is change.” That is what I realized hiking in the red rock canyons, meditating, and watching the sun set is that life is a gift and in that gift reside evolution the stuff that makes our lives meaningful. Whether a change is minor or major the uncertainty, anxiety, and opportunities that come do in fact evolve our lives, expectations, and outcome.

I know that I am preaching to the choir per se … You, the friends and members of First Parish, have been through a lot of change over the last few years. You have had to think about your identity as a community, you have selected a search team and taken a year longer than expected to find a settled minister. I hope that you are able to see, at times, that not all change is difficult and if it is challenging that good things can come from the effort. You may be wondering why I am writing about change as an opportunity for growth so soon after returning from my time away. Because our congregation is about to face another staff change, Roberta Altamari, your Director of Religious Education, has forwarded me her resignation effective at the end of July.  My initial reaction was sadness, Roberta is awesome and it is disappointing to imagine losing her so soon after meeting her. However, as you will read in her column she feels called to seek other challenges and opportunities in her life. Change is inevitable and an important part of personal growth thus I whole heartedly support anyones desire to follow hit or her dreams. With that said I am still sad about Roberta’s news and yet I am hopeful for her as she blazes a new path for herself.  We all love you Roberta you can be certain of that!

The future for First Parish is bright we have so much to look forward to as we imagine a community that is filled with energy and excitement. In February, I will work with Roberta to secure a reasonable job description and a list of her duties, I will work with the Religious Education Committee to define the search for a new Director of Religious Education (DRE) and I will work with the Board of Trustees to secure funding and commitment. February will be a time for us to imagine our future and then to strive to articulate our imaginngs in March as we begin the process of fleshing out our goals and the tasks that will be required to achieve our dreams. Will it be easy? I am certain that we will face some challenges but as my mother always used to say, “everything worthwhile takes time and effort to realize.”

My friends, I look forward to the opportunities that will spring from the changes that are undoubtedly coming our way. This life is a guest house as Rumi, the thirteenth century Sufi poet taught:

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. (Jelaluddin Rumi)

May we find moments of peace on this journey of discovery.

In Faith, Rev. Marjorie

 

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