As a child growing up, my family did not belong to any organized church, and while all of my grandparents were involved in their own church communities, religious exploration was not a part of my experience growing up. We found community in other ways – through creative pursuits, interests and activities, and work. As parents, my husband and I hadn’t intended to proceed any differently as we raised our children, and we also found connections through work, play, and our community. However, the last few years have brought challenges that we never could have imagined, as we’ve all had to navigate a bitterly divisive political world, a changing climate, and events that bring up difficult emotions and questions about things like racial justice and violence. I found myself longing for a community of people who could help me answer questions for my children and turn anxiety and fear into action and connection. I had driven by the UUCW building for years, noting the array of symbols on the side, but had always found a reason not to visit – the drive from our home in Princeton was too far, our lives were busy and over-scheduled already, and I wasn’t sure if I could see myself as a member of a church.
Finally, I made a New Year’s resolution to visit, and we arrived at our first service, which turned out to be Aaron’s “Ask the Minister” service. I was amazed to find myself instantly intrigued by this group of people and Aaron’s off-the-cuff musings on life. I laughed, at times felt myself tearing up, and felt connections to things that were shared by people in the congregation. I walked out the doors at the end feeling lighter. Each time we return, I feel that same sense of lightening, and also joy when we are able to find connection with others in the congregation.
I still feel a sense of worry and anxiety when I look out at the world and when I try to imagine the paths before my daughters, but despite that worry, I also feel a new sense of hope. Through all of the noise and chaos of what is “out there”, I can also see a group of people who are trying hard, standing together with networks of other groups of people all over the country and the world. And I feel like I can count myself as a part of that group and know that I am not alone. Participating in stewardship, particularly now, feels important and right to me. if stewardship means to care for something and protect it, it is truly a way for me to care for and protect this community that has come to mean so much to me.