Summer is almost upon us. It has been a good and full church year, though a few weeks remain. A new slate of officers has been elected and the transition to new leadership has begun. It is interesting to me that in many ways our UU church year reflects the old cycles of nineteenth century agricultural life when the Unitarian and Universalist churches were first formed in the United States – even our fellowship, formed in the following century, reflects this pattern! It used to be that school was held in the summer and the winter, the slower seasons of the year on a farm, though of course the work never fully ceases. Children were needed at home for planting and harvesting and so school took breaks at those times. In fact, some places still do. When I lived in Northern Maine, the middle and high schools took a 2 week break every fall so the children could work the potato harvest with their families.
What I like about this cycle is its alternating focus on body and mind. Spring and fall are seasons of the body. We are physically busy with activity and productivity. Winter and Summer are seasons of the mind. We focus on learning and renewing our spirits. This cycle provides balance and can remind us of the need for both body and mind. Sustaining a liberal religious presence requires physical energy; there are many tasks to be done if we are to be successful and thrive. Sustaining a liberal religious presence also requires mental energy; our intellect, emotions and spirit need to be periodically refreshed and renewed.
This July we will not be holding our own Sunday services here at UUFD. Instead, we will gather at UUFD and organize ourselves into carpools to visit the other UU churches in our region: Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, Bloomington-Normal, and Peoria. This presents an opportunity to experience how other UU churches “do” church. I encourage you to go, be curious, ask questions, seek out your counterparts and begin building relationships. These experiences can become part of creating a vital UUFD.
This summer, allow your body to play. Enjoy the sun, the water, the air and the earth. Engage your mind. Read, learn, be curious. Renew your spirits. We will return to a new church year later this summer refreshed, reenergized, ready.