Donkeys and smartasses. A few days ago, I could not have predicted that they would feature as highlights of this week’s ministry.
“So, what do you actually do besides what we see when we gather for worship?” Over the years, we clergy grow accustomed to fielding this question. The answer varies from day to day and week to week, of course—one of the reasons I love the work is because it’s never boring!—but usually includes a combination of things like attendance at Board and committee meetings; one-to-one pastoral counseling; reading, reflection, and other worship preparation; facilitating a program for UUCC, like our current ongoing UU Wellspring sessions; participation in UU and/or interfaith clergy meetings and other community events; and so on.
And this week I enjoyed not just one, but two, less routine but wholly enriching activities, when I visited two different local retirement communities. Who could have guessed that these visits would feature donkeys and smartasses?
On Wednesday afternoon I was a guest at Miller’s Grant, where I had been invited to talk about Unitarian Universalism with their “Exploring Spirituality” group. Six members of UUCC were in that circle, plus about a dozen other individuals who were previously unfamiliar with UUism. We had a lively discussion about the UU tradition, its relationship to Protestant Christianity, the lyrics in our UU hymnals, and more. And their chaplain introduced me to the biblical story of Balaam’s Donkey (Numbers 22:21-38), which she says is her favorite, because, “If God can speak through Balaam’s a**, God can speak through you!”
Then on Thursday, staff member Sara Davidson and I visited the Residences at Vantage Point (VP), where there will soon be 19 UUCCers in residence—it’s like a mini-congregation of its own! Together we imagined ways for these congregants to be better connected with each other (gathering to watch UUCC worship and programming on Zoom together, instead of in separate apartments; forming their own reflection group; creating a UUCCatVP email list) and also better connected with UUCC (organizing rides and carpooling to OBIC; scheduling regular visits to VP by UUCC staff and leadership; ensuring that these congregants are adequately informed about the UUCC goings-on).
During the Vantage Point visit, we asked everyone to share a favorite UUCC memory, and we were touched and delighted to hear recollections of camping trips; variety shows; youth credo services; ocean and riverboat cruises; smartasses on the Board of Trustees; and the meaningful work of being of service, exploring Death & Dying, and teaching Adult OWL classes. All of these memories offered examples of the shared ministry of UUCC, as every congregant participates in ways that are nurturing and meaningful and transformative.
These relationships and this work, every bit of it, are precious—even when we resort to donkey stories.
I celebrate you, UUCC, for all you are and all you have been in one another’s lives … through laughter and tears and living and aging and dying and playing and laughing and grieving together. Bless you for all you are.