Invisible Partners

img_0131We had been hiking straight up hill for nearly two hours.  Unlike the day before, it was sunny, not raining – but the remnants of the rain were everywhere – mud, and deep crevices along the trail, trees fallen along the path.  It was hard climbing, sometimes dangerous, and glorious.  I was hiking with a few of my colleagues – we were together for a retreat for senior ministers in large UU congregations – new friends whose words and work I had long cherished and now we were climbing a mountain together.
There was content in our week together – learning and reflecting and an official agenda. Yet, as always in these sorts of gatherings, it is the in-between times, the breath, the unplanned conversations, and the long walks to an unknown places that stay with me long after our time together.
So often in our congregations, and in our lives, we can start to feel isolated.  Like we’re facing all the struggles and challenges all on our own, and that there’s no one that quite understands, or shares the same longings or is working towards the same goals.  But then…you find yourself debating faith, and evil, and the popular misinterpretation of Universalism by way of overly-optimistic theological anthropology, all while navigating a rocky cliff and a rushing river…and you think, we’re all in this together! 
OK, I know, that’s not likely your specific example of discovering common ground.  But – we all have these stories.  Where we realize that where we thought we were going it alone, there’s actually a bunch of others out there, working alongside us – not always totally visible to us, but there nonetheless.
In these days where the work of repairing the world can feel insurmountable, let us remember the many partners who are out there who we cannot see, yet are with us nonetheless.  And let us give thanks for each of them, and for the visible ones too, and let us be faithful to our partnership, and the good work that calls all of us on.

About Rev. Gretchen Haley

Gretchen Haley is relentlessly curious about most things, especially the big stuff of theology, the beauty of creation, the magic of collaboration, and the great joy of pop culture (reflected in this blog by random posts on Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Scandal, Orphan Black, or the latest Marvel movie). She has an audacious ambition for the liberal church, believing in its capacity to transform lives and our world by way of hyper-local relationships and partnerships that inspire the unleashing of courageous love. She's all in on adrienne maree brown's emergent strategy, and finds solace in the trails in and around Fort Collins Colorado where she serves with the brilliant Rev. Sean Neil-Barron as one of the ministers of the Foothills Unitarian Church. She and her amazing partner of over 20 years, Carri, have 2 children, Gracie (14) and Josef (12) who both relish and resent being PKs, and who keep her grounded, frustrated, inspired, and humbled, everyday. She is basically obsessed with her puppy, a large sized mutt, Charlie.
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2 Responses to Invisible Partners

  1. Tyler says:

    There’s probably a better way to contact you but for the sake of convenience I’m asking here:
    I just found Unitarian Universalism (my parents are Conservative Republican Anglicans, and that’s how I was raised) and I think that I may have finally found a good place, except I still have deep roots in Christianity.
    I’m not renouncing those beliefs for anything; for the most part, my faith in God (as a personal being) and Jesus (as an entity that is distinct and separate from God) are very strong. I pray. I take Communion. But basically every other doctrine and aspect of the Christian faith I disagree with: I don’t think the bible is infallible, I don’t believe in original sin, I don’t accept that a merciful God would damn anyone to hell. I don’t take many of the stories in the bible as fact. And for those reasons (along with others) I think Unitarian Universalism would be perfect for me.
    I love to learn from other religions, I take wisdom from anyone willing to share it with me. But would my other beliefs, my Christian beliefs, make it difficult to join a UU congregation? Would my beliefs conflict too much with what is believed by others? I’m sorry this is so long, but I’ve been listening to your sermons and researching UU and it’s mostly amazing, it just seems like I might be rejected. Thanks so much if you answer, and bless.


    • Hey Tyler – are you in northern Colorado? Because if so we’d love to have you at our Maundy Thursday service this Thursday – seems like a great fit! To answer more generally – it depends on what church you attend. In ours, I hope that you’d feel 100% at home and welcome. In others though there can be a suspicion about Christianity because of past wounds people have experienced. Send me an email at and we can talk more. Thanks so much for being in touch.


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