Ministers Column – November 2010


Dear Ones:

Up until our building rededication service on September 19th, I confess I was so focused on the details—and there were a lot of details—that it was difficult for me to slow down and look at how beautiful our new space is. I knew that the Architect, Construction and Engineering Committee was working with building professionals who understood that our building needed to express a certain elegance and grace. And I knew that, starting last year, the Project Aesthetics Team was spending countless hours (not to mention hearing countless opinions) figuring out where the furniture ought to go, what we ought to hang on our walls, how the hanging ought to be done, etc.

At the building rededication ceremony Mary Anne Handley brought greetings to UUS:E from the Connecticut General Assembly and presented us with a legislative citation. The citation congratulates UUS:E on the success of our project, on our efforts to build in environmentally sustainable ways, on our efforts to make our building accessible to all, and on our efforts to create a beautiful sanctuary. I’m so glad those final words were included in the citation.

In my rare free moments at 153 West Vernon St., I’ve recently taken to wandering through the meetinghouse. Just wandering. Just looking. Just breathing. It is a beautiful space. It invokes in me a sense of peace and comfort. On late afternoons the autumn sun beams through the south-facing sanctuary windows; little islands of light rest on the oak floor. The whole room is warm, quiet, soft; the interplay of shadow and light touches something in me that is beyond words. That’s what beauty does.

Throughout the project there was talk of reducing the carbon footprint, installing geo-thermal, being accessible, creating enough parking spaces, expanding the square footage, adhering to the fire codes. I don’t remember much discussion of beauty. There must have been, because it didn’t get that way by accident! I offer my heartfelt thanks to those who paid attention to beauty. And I offer my heartfelt thanks to Lesley Schurmann and the Project Aesthetics Team who’ve done so much to make “each casual corner bloom into a shrine,” as the hymn says. What a remarkable effort.

Our theological theme for the month of November is faith. As I wander through the meeting house in these mid-autumn days, as the sun rests softly on the oak floor, I am learning to put my faith in beauty.

With love,