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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

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

        

Childcare for our youngest is available during services.
                

All children are welcome!   

 

 

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