Dear Live Oak,
As a religious professional serving Live Oak UU, I give up a lot of my sense of community in order to hold professional boundaries. It can be really hard sometimes. I have a lot of colleagues who struggle with the same thing because we don’t really get to go to church on Sunday morning. We don’t get to just attend events that the church hosts. Rev. Joanna would most likely agree with me that when we are at church we are always in our roles, there isn’t any way to separate from that. And because I choose to not become a member of the congregations I serve, as that is considered best practices for those in my field – again boundaries and all that – where do I find my community of people to turn to in difficult times or joyful ones? (BTW, I firmly believe that a church community is there to serve that purpose for its members.)
With the unexpected death of my father a couple of weeks ago, I had to share the event because it affected my ability to do the work you hired me to do. I had to publicly share something that was painful and out of my control. I came to church May 5th, unable to articulate a clear idea to my teachers, unable to sing a hymn I love during worship, just going through the motions. The plan was for Rev. Joanna to share during second service after I’d left for the morning, but someone caught me off guard and I told them during first service. They helped me find my voice on the last hymn by joining me, holding my hand and giving me strength. Later that week, I did something that was out of character for me, I asked for help. It was a small ask, I know, but for those who provided meals for me and my husband when I was too tired to cook and really had little appetite, it was the start of healing. Since then I’ve received cards, including Starbucks, from congregants young and old, and notes of sympathy along with hugs. And more importantly what I’ve received is your grace and forgiveness for those things that are slipping through the cracks right now — the little details that are lost in the fog of grief.
I want to say thank you to all of you for your kindness and love right now. Thank you for seeing me as more than your staff member. Thank you for being a people of healing for me.
P.S. You won’t see me this Sunday. I had scheduled a vacation to help my daughter move from Chicago to Spartanburg. I’ll be back for Flower Communion!