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Minister's Take on "Clutch Power"

This is Rev. David's column in our May Contact newsletter.

From the Minister: Building and Rebuilding

In third grade, my mother told me: “you have to stop building according to the directions that come in the Lego package and make new things.” A few years ago, taking that advice, I gathered every gray brick among the collection I’d kept all these years and built a Lego replica of the First Unitarian Church in Hyde Park.

Don’t let the finished photos fool you. Like our collective work in the real church, I spent as much time tearing down and rebuilding as I did building.

Ten hours in I realized I had made the sanctuary two bricks too narrow: I tore the pillars to the ground and rebuilt. After finishing the flat walls between arches on the sides of the sanctuary I realized the walls were off-white, not gray: I tore them down and rebuilt. I spent eight hours on three versions of the grand piano before getting the scale right and a lid that opened. Adding the library required tearing out the adjacent wall of the sanctuary: to be strong the wall had to be a continuous whole, not two unconnected walls standing parallel.

Through quiet nights in the spring and summer I built and rebuilt. I patiently removed my cat Milton whose favorite place to stand was exactly in the middle of the sanctuary. I built and rebuilt and petted Milton and built and rebuilt.

Early in the process, I knew it might not come out looking good. But I wasn’t anxious about it: the work and the joy (and the frustration) was in the building and rebuilding. Maybe it would come out and maybe it wouldn't -- but I could imagine it and I could work for it, and the pleasure was in the process.

It’s the same for the brick and mortar church. Of course, literally, this is what the Castle restoration was about: remaking spaces to keep the physical building serving the future of the church that gathers inside it.

But the reality of the continual rebuilding goes beyond the bricks. Committees form and do their work, and dissolve and get rebuilt into something else entirely. Leaders formal and informal contribute to the continual rebuilding.

Sometimes, you build the invisible infrastructure of the church which makes it mysteriously sturdy: direct and kind communication, making amends, stepping up to service, respectful disagreement. Sometimes a committee grows, shifts, or changes direction. Sometimes you take a program apart, back into bricks, and build something new with it.

The technical term for the stickiness of two Lego bricks as they grip each other is “clutch power.” No build holds together without clutch power. The whole is only as strong as the clutch power of any two bricks linked together. The sturdiness of the tallest structure is determined only by the relationship of any two bricks next to each other. The same is true for our congregation: the glue that cements us is our connections to each other.

In this present moment and the months ahead, we need clutch power! May the strength of those connections give us the confidence to build and rebuild our community as we go into our shared and unknowable future, together.

In hope,

Rev. David

"Ask for help when you need it; offer help when you can."

To help us through lonely days during these times of Covid, Rev. David's Contact column offers hope.  You can read the poem To the New Year that begins his article by clicking on the Contact link on the left of this page.

"The days are getting longer, but it’s deceptive: they’re getting longer by what feels like microscopic increments. The cold and the snow and the long slog ahead to spring may to suggest despair as a viable option. The wisdom for a moment like this is deceptively simple: Ask for help when you need it; offer help when you can.
I’m a practical person, and there’s some part of me that feels asking for help is a burden or an imposition – or, even worse, that I need to know just exactly what my problem is and just what the solution is before I reach out. Maybe this is your experience too: you feel crummy inside, and so you decide to wait until you stop feeling crummy before reaching out. But when the struggle is with isolation – whether in your head or in your house – it’s ok to just reach out. In fact, that is itself part of the solution.
Call a friend with a cat and ask them how their cat is doing. Email a friend and tell them the least funny joke you know. (Mine: why do you never see elephants in trees? Because they’re so good at hiding.) Call someone from church you don’t know too well and tell them Rev. David said to ask for their favorite cookie recipe because it is now, apparently, a religious obligation to eat cookies. You’ll get connection and cookies out of it: a win-win.
As much as the new year brings a new beginning it can be a difficult time. You don’t have to do it alone. We’re a community of care, and support, and bad jokes, and cookie recipes, and compassion. Ahead comes the walk toward spring, toward vaccination, toward hugs and handshakes and singing together again. We’ll get there, together: our hopes, such as they are, invisible before us, untouched and still possible.
In hope,
Rev. David"

Christmas Trees at the Castle - A Beverly Tradition

We SOLD OUT of our Fraser firs this season!

Thanks to all our loyal customers and new customers for supporting the Castle Keepers: Members of Beverly Unitarian Church

MERRY CHRISTMAS - See you next year! 

Julia's Message

Julia's message is taken straight from the November issue of our church newsletter, Contact. It's worth reading, more than once.
"From the Ministerial Intern
There is a squirrel in my backyard; well, there are many, but there is one in particular that we see a lot of. First we saw him checking and rechecking holes in the flowerbeds. Then we saw him tackling the bird feeders. Lately he’s taken to sitting in the hanging basket we put squirrel food in and just chowing down. He knows a good thing when he sees it; he also knows that his search may get harder soon and he really is working hard to make it through the winter.It’s gotten me to thinking that many of us are going to have a more challenging winter than we’ve had in other years. And I wondered what we could do, following the example of the squirrel, to prepare. I think the answer to that is probably different for everybody, but I suspect that for most of us, finding ways to stay connected is going to rank pretty highly on the list of helpful things to do. Some wonderful folks here at BUC have come up with a few ways to make that easier that you’ll be hearing more about in the coming weeks; I encourage you to really consider taking advantage of those offers of connection. I’ve taken, in recent weeks, to buying a few greeting cards every time I’m out and sending a few out each week. It feels so good to reach out and I am already enjoying the return mail.What would help you feel plugged in during the coming months? Can you plan a little to make the colder time better? If I lived closer, I’d leave a bucket out for BUC folks –maybe chocolate or mints, greeting cards and notepaper instead of corn, but it would be good to see you there, gathering what you need.Be well friends. We can get through this together, even when we are apart.~ Julia"

Exciting Challenge for Castle Restoration Donors

We are thrilled to announce that an anonymous donor has offered to match every new gift dollar-for-dollar up to $30,000 during the month of August.
Meaning, the impact of gifts will be doubled this month!
More than $60,000 of work is still needed on the north parapets and the “baby turret” wall. This was only discovered after the restoration began on May 29th.We are compelled to complete this work this summer while the scaffolding is still in place and reaching this new and unexpected challenge will make that possible.

Gifts can be made online at givinsbeverlycastle.org or by checks to the Castle Restoration Fund delivered to the Castle at 10244 South Longwood Drive, 60643

Minister's June Message

"We lived in Minneapolis, Teri and I, when our kids were small. For three years we lived around the corner from the intersection where George Floyd was murdered. Every work day, I got on the #5 bus at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. I know that intersection. I know that convenience store. I know that gas station. I know the real estate ads on the bus stop benches. I waited for the bus on the same patch of cement where he was murdered. Our house was around the corner, but we never lived in the Minneapolis where George Floyd was murdered.

My Black neighbors and I lived on the same block but we did not live in the same city. That was Boston, too, when I lived there. That’s Chicago too: my Black neighbors and I live in the same building but we live in two different cities. In Hyde Park, in Beverly, in a scattering of other neighborhoods around Chicago, white folks talk a good game about integration, but we don’t yet live in the same city as our next door neighbors. Here’s the number of times I got hassled by a cop in Minneapolis: zero. I mean: getting off the bus at midnight, the patrol cars never even slowed down. I mean: rolling through the stop signs, they didn’t even shake their head at me. I mean: jaywalking downtown the cops called out the two Black men next to me and didn’t even notice me not break stride. The police were there to protect me from people who looked like them. The rules for white America and the rules for Black America are not the same. I lived three blocks from where George Floyd was murdered but we never even lived in the same country.

This system of supremacy that values white lives as if they matter more than Black lives flourishes in countless ways, large and small – but it isn’t inevitable and it can be undone. The Unitarian Pete Seeger said that if the world was going to be saved, it would be saved by ten thousand little things. We’re committed to doing everything in our power to undo it: learn, listen, protest, give, vote. The 19th century Unitarian minister Edward Everett Hale gives us the benediction—the good word that sends us onward—forward into the work: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
In hope, David

Buddhist Meditation

Reverend Marcia Curtis is temporarily canceling the Sunday evening meditation until further notice. For more information please click redlotussangha.org.
We hope to resume the meditation and dharma talks in the next few weeks.

Religious Education

        

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