Time is Art

Time is Art

I started working at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, MD in September 2011. I vividly remember applying for the position of Administrative Assistant, having reached a clear point of desperation to leave a job where I was most certainly working for “the man” (something I have no business doing). I was at my cousin’s wedding when I received the call that I had gotten the position, and felt such a sense of relief and joy that I’d be working in a place that would (way) better align with my values and interests.

I’ve been working in a UU setting (and of course now at UUCC) since that time. And lately I’ve been reflecting on how my sense of spirituality, community, and self has evolved over the years, and how I have so many Unitarian Universalists to thank for it. All of these years of very human experiences, relationships, sermons, poems, readings, tender moments, not-so-tender moments, and yes, meetings—they’ve all shaped me, and I now don’t know who I’d be without them. And I don’t wanna know. 

My recent reflection and gratitude most certainly is tied to me being raised Baptist. Raised Baptist in Vermont, of all places. So for me, that means that I grew up with a firm fear of hell… and frankly, God. We were taught that you don’t make it to heaven unless you ask Jesus into your heart as your savior. We were taught that your belief in Jesus ultimately outweighs your deeds, and that your interest in making it to heaven eclipses interest in how to live here on earth. A fear of hell seemed to swim through all aspects of the faith, as far as I could tell. And so, fear swam in me. I remember so many Sundays while driving to church with my grammie, aunt, and sister, that I’d (almost obsessively) be asking Jesus into my heart, while feeling pretty clearly that if God was all he was cracked up to be, that he’d know that it wasn’t a heartfelt act of belief. It was an act of fear, because I never believed that Jesus was my savior. And I was prettttty preoccupied with the implications of that reality. God knows I couldn’t tell my grammie! Nut uh.

So, as I look back on my Baptist childhood, and all of those unpleasant Sunday school classes, Bible camp experiences, stressful coffee hours, stifling sermons, full-length dresses and Easter hats, and all of the fear it instilled, I now recognize that it all has been largely washed away over the years. It is only a small part of me now, and usually is just a distant memory. Unitarian Universalism, and specifically the people and moments that it has led me to, has helped me grow into who I am, to learn how to embrace love as a way of being, to strive to make much of my life’s purpose about trying to embody love, rather than fear. 

So, thank you UUCC, for this opportunity to learn and grow with you all. I know I’ve not been here even a year yet, and that because I started this job when the pandemic hit in March, that we still have yet to connect fully—something that can best happen in person. Yet, I am so grateful for ways I connect with you all now, and look forward to a stronger connection in the future. I look forward to continuing to be shaped by you all, and to continuing to be changed by this faith. 

Love,
Sara

P.S. I wouldn’t dream of referring to God as a he at this point.

13 Comments

  1. Carol Zika

    Sara,

    Thank you for sharing. Most UUs have a story of their path to our faith tradition. Not as many are lifelong UUs. The youth that grow up in our fine RE programs may change that.

  2. Norman and Sylvia Hazzard

    Thank you, Sara, for sharing your story. Our family became UU’s when the new Owen Brown Interfaith Center opened in the fall of 1984. For the previous 15 years we had been active in, and raised our sons in, the St. John United Methodist-Presbyterian congregation in the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center. For the most part, that was a good experience, yet we eventually felt a need for something we could not quite identify, so we started looking for a new church home. One of the new services we attended was the last meeting of UUSHC (the old name of UUCC) in The Other Barn in Oakland Mills Village Center. I seem to recall that Inge Hyder was one of the greeters that day, and she warmly welcomed us. We heard the Rev. Stephen Kendrick preach an off-the-cuff sermon answering questions placed in the offering plate, and we were almost literally blown away! We realized that we had identified what we had been missing and that we were actually Unitarian Universalists, and that we had been for a long time.

    • Sara Davidson (Author)

      Thank you so much for sharing! I love the mental image I have now of Inge greeting your family, and love that you have such a vivid memory of the day (means it was meaningful).

  3. Celonia A Walden

    Hi Sara! Sooo glad to have gotten to know you, even if it’s virtual reality! 2011 was a big year for me, tooo! Good and Bad. I lost my Big Brother Tom that year. He was diagnosed in 2004 with stage 4 colon cancer and was given 6 months at best. But being a doctor, he got all the aggressive treatments available and managed to survive for 7 years with his illness. In those 7 years, he saw his daughter Angela graduate from college and was the best man at his son Tommy Jr’s wedding! He packed a lot of living in his time left and his family and friends were grateful for it Although ten years later, I still grieve. But also in 2011, I got my current job as a staff RN at a nursing home in Baltimore. I looove my job! I looove my patients! And I looove my coworkers! I’m grateful for the ten years I’ve been there. Of course with COVID-19 it has been a very difficult time for everyone involved, patients and staff. We’ve had several outbreaks and I, myself, contracted COVID-19 in April. I’m well now. And still grateful for a job where my talents are desperately needed. In fact in February last year, I was named NOTM: Nurse of the Month! Whew, I said a lot but mostly I thank God (neither “He” nor “She” nor “They” but “It”) for blessing me each and every day. Peace and Blessings, my friend. You make UUCC a welcome home. I’m better for having gotten to know you!

    • Sara Davidson (Author)

      Awww, thank you for this, Celonia 🙂 You’re such a good one. Thank you for sharing. I love our check-ins and as you know, love how fulfilling your work is for you. I hope your drive to/from work was safe in this snow! Hugs.

  4. Elaine Pardoe

    Sara, that was beautiful. It made me realize anew why being a UU is something to be eternally thankful for. It also made me look forward to meeting you!

    • Sara Davidson (Author)

      Tapping into (and staying connected to) gratitude is such a transformative experience. I very much look forward to meeting you! Perhaps we could chat on the phone this week or next!? Email me 🙂

  5. Elaine Pardoe

    Guess I’m not understanding the format here: I thought what I wrote above was my “comment.” In any case, wherever it appears, I meant it!

  6. Linda Linton

    Sara – I can’t wait to be with you in person! I don’t think I told you that I was raised in an American Baptist Church in Hartford, CT. No fire and brimstone or anything like – ABC is as liberal as Protestantism gets. People are often shocked when I mention my religious background (many people jump immediately to Southern Baptist), but it wasn’t much of a stretch when John and I became UUs many years ago. Two of my three siblings are also UUs . Be well, and thanks for your sharing, Linda

    • Sara Davidson (Author)

      Linda! I can’t wait to hear more about your experience. I now no longer understand what “Baptist” really means haha. And, I hope you know I have such a tall lady hug in store for you!

  7. John Guy

    Good Sunday afternoon Sara – Having read your essay several times I am prompted like Linda Linton to share some of my Baptist experiences ,too . I grew up in a very small village in the Shenandoah Valley in the 1930s. The local Southern Baptist Church was the only church in town that met every Sunday ,although our minister was shared with three congregations in adjoining villages. The Sunday School allowed me to find other boys in town with whom to share growing up time together . Later in life I departed Baptist life style with my lovely lady friend Segar whom I met at U of Richmond in 1953 . She found All Souls Church Unitarian in DC in late 1960s right after the city burned and Rev David Eaton ,the first black minister there just started. We joined and I’m still UU for more than 50 years. Two of the joys of Baptist are still practiced in UU churches I attend: the love of singing and the form of democratic governance by the congregation. On the other hand I was very grateful to free myself from Original Sin ,as I considered it way too suffocating for a free thinking and ambitious human being . I still think that Original Sin was a tactic that preachers used to maintain control over their flocks. It certainly worked in my hometown village.
    Looking forward to more quality time with you. You are so vital to UUCC’s future.

    • Sara Davidson (Author)

      John, thank you for sharing your story so I can get to know you better! You know, I almost wrote about original sin vs. original blessing in this post! Enjoy the snow, and very much looking forward to quality time together.

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