June 2015 Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our June ministry theme is restlessness. For a number of reasons, this theme feels very relevant to me these days. I suppose the most obvious reason is that summer is upon us. As I’ve said many times before, when I contemplate the spiritual characteristics of summer, words like ‘restlessness,’ ‘wandering,’ ‘journeying,’ ‘exploration,’ ‘creativity’ and ‘play’ come to mind! As a spiritual season, summer is an outward time, a time for experimentation, a time for trying new things, a time for transcending boundaries, a time for crossing thresholds. Summer is a season to embrace our restlessness, to follow where it leads. Where might your restlessness be leading you?

Another reason is that I feel restless relates to the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the past year this movement has been growing, building, developing and organizing all across the country. I find myself personally in a restless place in relation to Black Lives Matter. Certainly my restlessness is leading me towards the June 2nd nonviolent civil disobedience training at UUS:E and the June 8th Moral Monday CT action in Hartford (there’s more info about both of these events in this newsletter). Still, I want to do more. I want to make a bigger contribution. But I’m not entirely clear what that means. I know the answers will come. I know I will make my contribution. I know I will find my place. And I know we will find our place as a UU congregation that cares about racial justice in the United States. But until then, I feel restless.

Though it isn’t a comfortable state of being, restlessness can be a good thing. When we embrace it, it can lead us in new directions we might not otherwise pursue. It can help us cross thresholds we might not otherwise cross. It can move us to transcend boundaries we might not otherwise transcend. It’s important to pay attention when we feel restless. It’s important to ask, what’s behind it? What is its source? Why is that source calling to me? What new chapter of my life awaits?

On the other hand, restlessness can be problematic. Perhaps we are restless because there’s too much stress in our lives, or too much anxiety, or too little time. If our restlessness is generated from anxiety, worry, etc., it is likely keeping us awake precisely when we need to sleep. It may be keeping us unfocused precisely when we need to focus. It may not be something we need to embrace but, rather, something we need to soothe, to calm, to tame in order to live a more meaningful life. Our June 7th Sunday service is entitled, “How to Encourage a Restless Soul.” There’s a double-meaning here. Sometimes we want to respond to the call that lies behind our restlessness. Other times, our restlessness is leading nowhere, and we want to engage in those practices that will ease our anxiety and worry. How do we know which kind of restlessness it is?

For the month of June, consider this question: In which direction does your restless soul need encouragement?

With love,

Rev. Josh