Minister’s Column October 2021

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for October is cultivating relationship. I’m reminded of the 20th-century Jewish mystic and philosopher, Martin Buber, who said “all real living is meeting.” Of course, he wasn’t talking about committee meetings (in case you thought that was where I was headed with this). He was talking about honest, vulnerable connection with other people, the world and the self. He was talking about deeply knowing others, world and self; caring for others, world and self; loving others, world and self. For those of you who are familiar with Buber’s philosophy, meeting refers not to the I-it relationship, which inevitably turns the other into an object to be exploited in some way, but the I-thou relationship, which recognizes the other as a fellow being, worthy of respect, compassion and love.

All real living is meeting. Amen. Blessed be.

There are many ways to describe the value a congregation brings to our lives. But perhaps most fundamentally, congregations are places of meeting. Meeting for worship. Meeting to conduct the business of the congregation—board meetings, committee meetings, special team meetings. Meeting for religious education. Meeting for choir rehearsal. Meeting for special events—picnics, tag sales, auctions, concerts, poetry slams. Meeting for giving and receiving care. Meeting for community organizing, public witness and activism. Meeting for staff supervision and evaluation. At the core of all of it are people meeting each other, learning about each other, caring for each other, challenging each other, respecting each other, loving each other. Building relationships, many that last lifetimes. Yes, at the core of all of it is relationship.

All real living is meeting. Amen and Blessed be.

One of the hardest things to experience is the death of a loved-one, someone with whom we have been meeting in Buber’s sense; someone with whom we have been really living. In April we laid Andy Sebula to rest in our memorial garden. He was dear to those of us who knew him and “got” his quirky spirituality. In September we laid Lynn Chirico to rest. She was dear to so many of us who loved her passion for life. In September we also laid Sterling Heraty to rest. Most of us didn’t know him, though he had been a UUS:E member back in the 1980s. Those who joined us for his service loved him dearly, admired his artistry. And on Friday, October 15, at 3:00 PM, we’ll be laying John Crowley to rest, more than a year after his death. So many of us have “met” John over the years in so many ways. What real living he brought to us!

Feeling these losses so keenly makes the presence of new lives in our community so much more wonderful. In June we dedicated Nora, Sadie, Jolly, Sophie, and Violet—one of the most joyful moments for us during the pandemic! And congratulations are in order: in August Nora Alpers-Leon and Raul Mijares welcomed a baby into the world. I can’t wait to meet each of these children and their parents as they travel along their life paths. There is so much to look forward to, so much meeting, so much real living.

I’m reminded just how much UUS:E is a place of meeting, a place of real living.

And indeed, all real living is meeting. Amen. Blessed be.


Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

Rev. Josh