In the Meantime,
I had a great idea for this week and sure enough, the moment I sat down, I forgot what it was. Don’t say it was a ‘senior moment’ because I have been like this my whole life. There are so many things happening in my head that truly there is no way to keep track of them all.
This is both a blessing and a curse. Having lots of ideas means I am never bored. When my kids were young and complained of being bored, I said, “Enjoy it! Once you’re grown up you will never be bored.” But it also means I am often confused and torn between ideas.
Why tell you this? Because congregations are very similar. They have lots of things going on, each one worthy and interesting, and impossible to keep track of. When I saw the list of committees and groups here it seemed there were as many as there were members. And you’re not unusual. Most congregations are like this. And one reason is because it is hard to say no. All the ideas in my head are exciting. All the programs in a congregation are exciting. It is natural to want to support them all. We both know that this is impossible but saying no to something is hard. In a congregation it means saying to someone, a person or persons. That is especially hard. What to do?
Last spring, when I retired and before I got this job, I spent a lot of time in my yard. Something that gave me great satisfaction was weeding. That is a form of saying no, isn’t it? “Not this, not here.” Church life rarely afforded me the luxury of plucking something up so definitively. But as I thought, it was my vision for the yard that helped me. To say no meant I had already said yes to this plant in this place.
What does VUU say ‘yes’ to? What ‘no’ will that require? This is what mission statements, vision statements, strategic plans and core values are about. Lots of congregations have all these things, of course. Few, though, realize that it is the power of ‘no’ that makes the ‘yes’ possible. Weeding is required in congregations as well as back yards.
Here’s an exercise for you, each of you. It’s a thought experiment. What would you say ‘no’ to at VUU? Why? Do this privately, on your own. I am not proposing we share them. Just get used to the idea in your mind. Call it a spiritual practice, because both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are essential to the health of your spiritual garden. – FW –