Enter, Rejoice, and Come In

A Religious Education message from Gina

Dear Friends,

The ministry theme for December is “joy.” As I sit down to write this, just one week post-election, I must admit that I’m not feeling particularly joyful. Disappointed? Check. Angry? Check. Scared, disgusted, outraged? Check, check, check! But joyful? Not so much. Like so many of you, my heart is heavy with grief, like a tree whose limbs are bent with the weight of ripened fruit. But I am determined not to let the grief immobilize me. Instead, I will harvest the grief. In the same way a farmer harvests her fruit trees, I will harvest my grief, which is now ripe and ready for the picking. Now is not the time to ignore or run from my grief. It is not the time to let my grief fall to the ground to collect at my feet and decay. And so I begin the work of harvesting. I begin to pluck the anger, the fear, and the outrage like pieces of ripe fruit. And just as fruit is a source of nourishment, of sustenance, and even of joy, so too shall I make my grief.

How exactly will I do this? I’m still figuring that out. There is so much to be done that it’s hard to know where to begin. Racism, classism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, xenophobia, climate change denial . . . the list is long and the need is great. I can’t possibly address all of these issues on my own, and neither can you. But together we can. One apple does not a pie make. But if we put all of our fruit together, we have the means to create something beautiful. If we all work together to harvest the fruits of our grief, anger, and fear, we have the potential to effect real change. Together we have the potential to be allies, not just in words but in deeds. Together we have the potential to demand fairness and equality for the oppressed, and settle for nothing less. Together we have the potential to live and embody our UU Principles. Together we have the potential to provide nourishment, sustenance, and yes, even joy. Together we have the potential to forge a revolution—one piece of fruit at a time.

And so I return to the idea of joy. Is there room for joy in our hearts amidst all this grief? I say yes. And if not, we need to make room! In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that it is our responsibility to make room for joy, to be open to joy, to create joy, and to spread joy. We’ve witnessed an abundance of hatred. Let’s not allow for a scarcity of joy. Over the next month, I encourage you to intentionally look for opportunities to both experience and spread joy. Bake cookies and deliver them to neighbors. Write and mail a letter to someone who has touched your life. Take a night time walk with your child and look at the stars. Feed the birds. Invite a new friend over for dinner. Check out Christmas lights. Come to the meetinghouse on Sundays and be surrounded by beloved community. Volunteer for hospitality. Join us for caroling on December 16.

We have much work ahead of us. Harvesting grief and making it useful is not an easy endeavor. Ask any farmer and she will tell you. We’re going to need all the joy we can get to sustain us. Fortunately, the opportunities for joy are many, so seek them out, create them, and embrace them.

 

Gina Campellone, Director of Religious EducationBe well and be loved,

Gina Campellone