The gathered community here that I’m embracing is 130 Unitarian Universalist ministers and religious education professionals. We are the ones who were able and willing to travel and to gather in person (many more join us every day virtually). I thought long and hard weighing the risk of travelling versus the benefit of being in person, and made the choice to travel using all the COVID precautions at my disposal. This is the first in-person gathering of this kind since the pandemic began. The connection with fellow ministers from across the country is satisfying, grounding, and at times challenging. My colleagues reassure me that I am loved, they inspire me, and they call forth the best in me. Together we struggle to find the best way forward for this life-giving faith.
Welcoming growth here comes in the form of challenging messages I hear in our daily worship services, keynote speeches, and small group conversations. I grow in awareness of the breadth and depth of our UU movement; I grow in new ideas for worship and operations of our congregation; I grow personally through workshops and spiritual practice.
My connection to the divine on this conference and retreat is facilitated by the natural beauty around me. The conference is in San Diego, where it is warm enough to have our meals outside and to experience the plants and trees and water around us. Sunrise was beautiful this morning and the mountains are visible in the distance. I have extra time daily for meditation, sacred reading, and I am having my first experience of the energy practice of Qi Gong. The divine is present within me, between us, and beyond us, and I remind myself of that presence this week.
Great Spirit, I see your beauty in the snow-sprinkled pine trees of Michigan and the sunny waters of Mission Bay in California. I hear your voice in the wind, I feel your energy through me and I call that energy Love.
Bless this gathering of ministers, hospital chaplains, prison chaplains, community ministers, social justice ministers, and religious educators. May the virtual and in-person gathering strengthen our best intentions and practices for the beloved faith of Unitarian Universalism.
May all be well. May greater love flow through me, through you, through all living and non-living things. May Love bless the world.
Rev. Drew Frantz
February 3, 2022