Pastoral care is the heart and soul of my ministry. It happens with in-person meetings, in weekly writings and through preaching. It happens in silence, bearing witness, and in song. I help celebrate births, give meaning to weddings, and ease people through illness and into death. It is an honor to be invited into people’s personal lives, and I take it very seriously as a sacred responsibility.
Below are samples of weekly pastoral care emails to the congregation:
August 17, 2020
Anxious? Who me? No! Why do you ask?
Anxiety is normal in abnormal times. The current times are not normal. But then again, we are reexamining what is “normal,” which in turn triggers yet more anxiety. Anxiety shows up in a variety of behaviors, some of which may be new, or some may be old and familiar: desperation, determination, overly controlling behavior, indecisiveness, asking others to solve issues (often so someone else is held responsible for it later), procrastination, rushing, wallowing, hyper-focusing on one detail, going down rabbit holes, conflict, overanalyzing, excessive worrying, distraction, change in eating habits and perfectionism. All of these may be signs of anxiety.
It's important to raise our self-awareness improving the odds that anxiety won’t govern our lives. With self-awareness comes the ability to make choices about what to do with the anxiety or to ask for help. Both are better options than letting anxiety rule our lives and cause yet further stress in a never-ending cycle.
I invite you to create a daily routine of deep, slow breathing. Add some soft and slow music, or just sit in silence. If you’re comfortable, pray. Pray for yourself, pray for your family, your neighbors, your co-workers and the stranger down the street. Pray for love, compassion and safety. Pray as you breathe, and breathe as you pray.
Consider a group meditation practice. In our own MVUC community we offer weekly Contemplative Group via Zoom. Sundays, 9 a.m. Contact ….
Stay safe and wear a mask,
Love and prayers, Rev. Kate
August 24, 2020
I walked in the rain. I was not wearing a raincoat or carrying an umbrella. Amy and Rory, springer spaniel companions, had been eager to get out the door. A glance at the forecast said rain in two minutes. I paused, shrugged, and left the house in tee shirt, shorts and sandals.
The water was soon dripping down my glasses; I could still see. I felt the water slide down my back and legs. My toes squished with each step, accented by occasional mud.
The dogs were undeterred from our morning exercise. They paused to shake every few blocks, but they were as committed as I to not let the fresh summer rain keep us from our daily experience of an early morning walk-about. In fact, the warm rain became an integral part of our experience. The water carried us around our neighborhood in a wet, warm welcome to life. We were not alone. Other brave neighbors were out walking, running and biking in the rain; open to life’s important element.
I wondered, how often do I short circuit my life because I think I should not have an experience out of fear, small or large? How many sweet experiences have I missed? How many opportunities of love and intimacy did I turn away from? How many foods have I closed my mouth to, and how many new musical notes never passed through my ears? Could I have gotten hurt, found something bitter, or heard a flat note? Yup. And I could have grabbed that raincoat and hat, and not felt the rain running down my back or felt the squish in my toes. But I did not, and I am deeply grateful.
In this time of heightened fear and anxiety, when opportunity arrives, it’s important to let a few small experiences of wonder, love, sweetness and depth into our lives.
Love, Rev. Kate
August 31, 2020
There is an old saying among ministers, its source long forgotten, “We are here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” There’s a lot of truth to this short summary of the minister’s job. I’ve been thinking about this balancing act as Mark, Ann, Tyler and I plan for the fall worship services.
We are stressed and coping with various degrees of anxiety. I am here to comfort you.
We are motivated to effect change in our long quest to eradicate racism and oppression. I am here to afflict those who are too comfortable with privilege.
We are tired, lonely and frightened. I am here to comfort you.
We are seeking ways to feel empowered. I am here to afflict those who have gotten too comfortable with feeling small.
We are overwhelmed, confused and angry. I am here to comfort you.
We are angry and eager to transform it into acts of freedom for all. I am here to afflict those who have grown too comfortable with complacency.
We are thinking of withdrawing, curling into a small corner, defensive posture at the ready. I am here to comfort you.
We are crying tears of joy and sorrow, we are singing alleluia and sighing in lament, we are questing and questioning, we are finding our way home while lost in the wilderness, we are reaching out with generosity while retracting in fear.
This is the human journey, complex, ever evolving and full of surprises. Planning for worship is challenging at the best of times. We’ll try and keep up with you.
Love, Rev. Kate
September 7, 2020
A day celebrating the history of laborers in the United States feels at odds in a time when laborers are experiencing massive and unwelcome change. Labor unions, at the heart of this annual federal holiday, are under assault from corporations and government – even before the pandemic. Service employees, largely represented by non-unionized, people of color are being laid off and getting sick without job protection during this pandemic. Also, during this pandemic, many “white” collar workers are negotiating home turf with other small and old humans who are circulating around their mutual confinement.
Our whole economy is experiencing whiplash as unemployment claims look like a roller coaster ride, and the second home market and home improvement stores can’t keep up with demand. Add to the disruption of employees and owners, the entire restaurant industry, having endured an unstable and frankly a bad business model, is now collapsing.
So, what exactly are we celebrating on Labor Day? Change. Not willingly, except for those who love autumn. Labor Day weekend has become the marker of the end of outdoor summer fun and the retreat back into our homes and schools. Like it or not, we are celebrating change. Change is what brings hope; hope for something better, something better for everyone, which is what labor unions were organizing. Those labor unions, organized by and for the common laborer, wanted something better for the underclass of America. They wanted to raise awareness for those who were suffering under the oppression of uncontrolled capitalism. They raised awareness with marches showing solidarity and strength, followed by picnics, for everyone knows a picnic is the best way to bring people together.
In today’s pandemic world, we are full of unwanted change for the white and privileged, and desperately needed change for the marginalized who have no voice in the labor market. We still need marches showing solidarity and strength against oppressive and unrestricted capitalist economic forces. We still need picnics that bring people together in common love for deviled eggs and lemonade. We need change, even though it is so very uncomfortable for everyone. Hang in there my friends, this bumpy and painful ride is not over yet, and it won’t be for a while. But let’s hang onto visions of a better world for everyone. Let’s celebrate HOPE.
With Love, Rev. Kate
February 15, 2021
He dropped the squeaky duck into my lap and licked my face bottom up. Rory then continued to look directly into my eyes, his furry black face, black eyes and black nose inches from my all too human, tender hearted body. I had just asked him if he knew I loved him? I had mentioned in my query, that he had a little brain, implying that perhaps he didn’t understand I was thoroughly wrapped around his paw. I now had his duck, and I had my need for him, not the duck, just him. Rory’s gray and green squeaky duck is one of his favorite toys, and has withstood the test of many tugs and tosses. Rory’s tiny little brain, perhaps responding to my tone, or my facial expression, was triggered, and he gave me his squeaky duck, and a kiss. I like to think it was an answer to my question: “Do you know, in your little tiny brain, how much I love you?” “Of course,” he said, “You love me, and I love you. That’s enough, but here’s my duck just in case your tiny little brain doesn’t get it.”
We have need of one another. Human to pet, pet to human. Human to human and far beyond. We have need to stretch the limits of our hearts way beyond what we think we might be able to love. We have need to let our little, tiny brain, expand beyond the narrow confinement encased in fear and seemingly endless anxiety, into spaces where we can give away things that we believed precious, in order that others can have more.
Love asks so much of us, and yet, in the end it is very little. While I’m not a big fan of some annual holiday dedicated to buying little red hearts made of sugar, and red carnations grown in distant lands by hands that are under paid, I do find gratitude in the human impulse to express a deep yearning for love’s connectivity. We need one another and the love that ever expands, to the point where we are willing, without hesitation, to give up a squeaky duck and hold a steady gaze into unflinching eyes.
Let the love expand, it’s the only way forward.
Love, Rev. Kate