Monday, December 4, 2006

Religious Hospitality, Aloneness, I'Hare and a Minister Installed

Sunday was a great day of enlightenment and thoughtfulness. Our new minister, Don Southworth, was installed in a beautiful, enlightening and electrifying service late Sunday afternoon. I'd never been to anything like it. I left knowing the congregation made a great choice and that there are things that which we have no idea that are on the horizon. Don is a self professed UU evangelist, two concepts you might think wouldn't mesh. He's opened my eyes to the idea that evangelism can be a positive word. I'm sure I'll be writing more on this later.

For the regular Sunday service Peter Morales, a former classmate of Don's at Starr King, the theological school that many Unitarian ministers attend, delivered a wonderful sermon on Religious Hospitality. I wasn't sure what message I would take home from this sermon. He spoke of things that I did expect, like reaching out to visitors. However, he tapped into something that has really been hitting home for me lately. He quoted some statistics(that I'm totally blanking on right now due to chemo brain!!) from a study that was published in American Sociological Review One fact did stick out though. The study reported that in 1985 the modal(most commonly reported) response was that Americans had 3 people(kin and non-kin) that they confided in. The shocking part was that in 2004, the modal response was ZERO confidants! How incredibly sad it was to hear that statistic.

During that sermon, I started thinking about how this applies to my life. How many people to I truly confide in...other than my therapist(and that's even debatable)? I guess, honestly, two and 1/2...again debatable and up for discussion. Since the whole Cancer thing, I've opened up more and I'm learning to ask for more, but it's still incredibly hard to be real with people. Something I need to explore more.

The installation service for Don included an awe inspiring performance by the Eno River Singers that was actually the world premiere of the piece. The music was entitled, "I'hare" (ee har ay). In the composer's note, she states, "I'hare is a Pawnee word that is invoked when calling people to be fully present, to enter a state of thoughtfulness and reverence." In my opinion, it was the perfect choice to be performed at this ceremony. I noticed many gaping mouths and teary eyes as the music swelled and exclaimed the word, I'hare!

The remainder of the ceremony was as thought provoking and invigorating as the morning ceremony and the performance of I'Hare. The Charge to the Congregation garnered a standing ovation for Gini Courter, moderator of the UUA. I wish my chemo addled brain remembered the 3 points she laid out for us. (Here's hoping there's a transcript of the service available at some point. Peter's Charge to Don was full of love and compassion and both men were in tears. Peter's final charge to Don was "To continue being Don." From what I've witnessed as a member over the past few months as Don has settled in, Peter was absolutely right. Don, just keep being Don and things will grow in ways we can't even predict. Personally, I'm looking forward to growing right along with the fellowship with Don and Mary's guidance, partnership and love for Unitarianism.

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