Don’t be fooled

IMG_1353As February comes to a close, and we head into March and the Fort Collins not-quite-spring spring break, the year is doing what it always seems to do this time of year – flying by.

In church-life, we are starting to make early plans for the fall, and we are finalizing our worship plans through the summer.  We have had some changes in our staff team: with the departure of Young Adult Coordinator Chris Sharp (who we wish well with his new baby and busy life!), we are excited to be welcoming Christopher Watkins Lamb, who will be adding this position to his hours he works as religious education music coordinator.  Not to mention we are in the final stages of selecting a new assistant minister, hoping and planning and praying over the budgeting and stewardship drive process as we anticipate what we will or won’t be able to do next year, and putting in place some exciting long-needed improvements, like the new speakers for the sanctuary as Ryan describes.

In life-life, my kids keep growing despite my feeling that they could manage to slow down a bit and it would fine (especially fine for my grocery bill), and I caught myself the other day saying I was “new to town,” when I realized that actually, I’ve almost lived here two years. Amazing!

Isn’t it funny, when life is this full and this fast paced, how it can feel like the year’s already over – when really, it’s still only February!  It reminds me of the Republican view that the President’s term is too-nearly-over for him to nominate a new supreme court justice…even though he has nearly a full year remaining.  I suppose in that case it’s more wishful thinking than we might say about our own lives – none of us exactly “wish” to be already at the end, but more feel like poet Adrienne Rich describes in her poem, Transcendental Etude, “we take on everything at once, before we’ve even begun to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin in the midst of the hard movement, the one already sounding as we are born.”  Which is to say: a lot of life can end up feeling like an impossible game of catch up.

We spoke about some of this at the Board meeting the other night, inspired by our chalice reading from Denise Levertov – her poem, Beginners.  I brought this poem to the Board, because it fits well with our monthly theme of desire, and because I know that they too are feeling the momentum as we move to the end of the year, even as it is important to realize that in many ways – we are just beginning.  As the poem goes, “we have only begun to love the earth.  We have only begun to imagine the fullness of life….we have only begun to imagine justice and mercy….we have only begun to know the power that is in us if we would join our solitudes in the communion of struggle…”

Reflecting on the poem, and this idea of beginning versus feeling like we’re coming to an end, one of our Board members thought of the sign that most of us are familiar with – on I-70 coming east towards Denver, the one that reminds truckers that they aren’t down the hill yet.  It’s tempting I’m sure to think you are done, you can pay less attention to the speed and the turns, because you can see Denver in your sights.  But in reality, as the sign reminds you, it’s not yet time to set the cruise control.

I like this analogy a lot – for the church, and for life.  I think especially after all the ups and downs of the transition at church, and the positive feeling that many of us have about the future, coupled with the fast-forward-looking-nature of life right now, we might accidentally get ahead of ourselves, and think we’re further along the journey than we are. But really, we’re just beginning.  As Levertov also says – “so much is in bloom.”   We are learning, and discovering, and we still need to pay close attention to all that is right here in front of us.

And for life, it’s good to remember that it IS just February.  It’s winter time (despite the few sunny days recently), and more snow is surely headed our way.  Every day right here and now is so filled with possibility and opportunities to begin again, to practice, to become.  I’m grateful to join with you, and appreciate the ways we might all be for each other like a helpful roadside sign, reminding each other, “don’t be fooled – we’re not done yet.”  In fact, we’re just beginning.

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About Rev. Gretchen Haley

Gretchen Haley serves as the Senior Minister of the Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, CO. She's relentlessly curious about most things, especially the big stuff of theology, the beauty of creation and poetry, the magic of collaboration, and the great joy and often-great-depth of popular (and less popular) television and music. She and her partner of 17 years, Carri, have 2 children, Gracie (10) and Josef (8).
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