Enter, Rejoice, and Come In

Dear Friends,

February’s ministry theme is brokenness. Most of us have experienced feeling broken at some point in our lives. I can clearly remember a time I felt that way. It was June 2006. I was 36 years old and had three children between the ages of one and eleven. I was struggling with an extended bout of postpartum depression and recovering from a bad case of shingles. My one-year-old was covered from head to toe in an alarming red rash, which turned out to be an allergic reaction to birthday cake frosting. My five-year-old’s fear of “loud, scary night noises” meant that she’d been sleeping between my husband and me in our bed for the better part of a year, rendering us chronically exhausted and irritable. A recent fall on the school playground left my eleven-year-old with a broken arm and no chance of dancing in a long-awaited upcoming recital. And then I suddenly found myself in the hospital having emergency gallbladder surgery. I felt overwhelmed. I felt distraught. Most of all, I felt broken. I’d even begun to wonder if my own “brokenness” was “breaking” the rest of the family.

And then the doorbell rang. Literally. It was someone from UUS:E, bearing a pot of warm carrot ginger soup, a hearty salad, and a loaf of homemade bread. We were told not to worry about cooking or buying groceries, as meals had been lined up for us for the next two weeks. Sure enough, night after night the doorbell rang. Folks from UUS:E took turns bringing us dinner. In the beginning, they would drop off the meal and leave, but as I got better sometimes they would stay and enjoy the meal with us. In addition to the meals, my mailbox filled with cards from people wishing me well and letting us know they were thinking of us.

At the time all of this happened, my family had been attending services at UUS:E for just about 8 months. We’d been part of the community for less than a year, yet the outpouring of kindness and generosity was such that we felt as though we were being held in the arms of a loving extended family. And indeed, we were.

The night the doorbell rang is when the healing began. It took some time, of course, but gradually we all started to feel better. The baby’s rash cleared up, the five-year-old eventually moved out of our bed, and the eleven-year-old’s broken bone mended. And I too improved, both physically and emotionally. As I regained my strength, I discovered I was no longer feeling quite so broken. In fact, I was feeling pretty darn whole!

The support of a loving community is the antidote to brokenness. I am sure of that. The power of love to heal and make whole is even greater when shared in community. There is no shame in brokenness, and there is boundless grace in the act of a community holding someone in kindness and love until they can make themselves whole again.

 

Gina Campellone, Director of Religious Education

 

With much love and gratitude,

Gina