At first, I attended church the way you might visit Urgent Care. When my heart ached, my spirit was tangled up and needing space to stretch, I would sneak into church. Right before service started, I would sit in the back row. I’d listen, then sing loudly, cry quietly, and sneak out of church before anyone noticed my soulful triage. This kind of spiritual practice is not recommended, yet it did provide a temporary salve on my soul. Those visits gave me a reprieve from my week and a safe space to feel, wonder, and seek truth.
Years later, I was a public-school teacher in a small city in Wisconsin with older and more conservative colleagues. I was surrounded by good people who nonetheless did not want to reflect on how oppression could be minimized or what efforts needed to be made to conserve the Earth’s resources. I felt alone, idealistic, and paralyzed by anxiety for the world. My liberal heart needed nourishing. Seeking a community that would challenge and cherish me, I returned to the place I had found solace, a Unitarian Universalist faith community.
There I found people who named oppression, who worked to expand horizons for everyone and wanted to widen the circle of love in the world. Unitarian Universalists at our best, remind me of the song by Greg Greenaway, “What Must Be Done,” he sings:
I learned as a child there are two ways to see
The world as it is and the way it should be
Some people say that’s just not my problem
Some people do what must be done
Today, I get to help widen the circle of love with, and to, our families, children and youth, and all of you.
February 1st marks the halfway point between winter and spring solstice—we are halfway to spring! We are resilient and we will continue to do what must be done.
And I hope you will join me in March downstairs in religious education, we need volunteers to widen some circles and even scribble inside.
Rev. Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson, Minister of Religious Education