Dear Ones,

Our theme this month is resilience. With so many changes in our lives, so many new restrictions, so many new fears, discovering or rediscovering what we know about resilience seems like a good idea.

Taming the COVID-19 beast presents a uniquely individual challenge in the form of a question, variously asked as: Will I accept (and in deed, embrace) limitations on my individual freedom? Will I endure immeasurable discomfort and social isolation to ensure that our hospitals are not overwhelmed and the most vulnerable among us are protected? Will I have patience with those who, operating from a place of reasonable fear, do unreasonable things?

The individual nature of this particular challenge makes it seem as though it is up to each of us alone to find resiliency — as if it is a lone endeavor. But, it isn’t. For sure, resiliency is something that we can nurture in ourselves. And, intentionally working on individual resiliency can have profoundly positive effects in our own lives. But by the same token, as we intentionally reach out and share with others the internal resources we have developed, we can have a profoundly positive effect on others, as well as they can have on us.

UCE’s mission has been distilled into four precious words: searching, learning, connecting, and serving. Connecting is an important reason for our existence as a community. And, it is our connections to one another that pick us up when we stumble on our journey, that hold us so we can bend without breaking, and that inspire us to continue on our path by lighting our way during dark times. So, as we go through the month of October, let’s remind each other that resiliency isn’t only about personal resources, but is also about community resources — and our willingness to offer them and to use them.

As I close this message, I share with you the words of my friend and colleague, Mark Morrison-Reed (whose extended family hails from, here, the Northern Neck of Virginia). He reminds us that the task of a religious (Latin: to bind) community is to unveil the bonds that connect us and in so doing, strengthen us:

The central task of the religious community
is to unveil the bonds that bind each to all.
There is a connectedness, a relationship
discovered amid the particulars of our own
lives and the lives of others.
Once felt, it inspires us to act for justice.
It is the church that assures us that we are
not struggling for justice on our own,
but as members of a larger community.
The religious community is essential,
for alone our vision is too narrow
to see all that must be seen, and
our strength too limited to do all that must be done.
Together, our vision widens and our strength is renewed.

Blessings, Rev. Lee Anne

P.S. There’s a great little animation on YouTube that illustrates that it is when we are in community that we are best able to develop resilience. After the animation ends, you will see a logo from “Christian Aid.” There is no attempt to proselytize or to obtain money — just a great lesson.