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Morris' Musings


Rev. Morris Hudgins, Senior Minister

It was with great sadness that I heard the news of Robin Williams. He was such a funny genius who made you laugh whenever you saw him. I knew about his addiction but was not aware of his battle with depression. I thought about my sister, Karen, who so wanted to live, but died because of smoking—a different kind of suicide.

I also thought of my colleague, The Rev. Jennifer Slade, minister of the UU Church of Norfolk, Virginia. Jennifer took her own life days before the beginning of the Southeast UU Summer Institute in Rad-ford, Virginia. I was preparing a sermon to give the gathering of over 1200 Unitarian Universalists. What could I say to comfort a group who came to be inspired and have adventures together? I would also address members of the Norfolk church and other churches in Roanoke and Blacksburg, Virginia, who would also be dealing with the loss of a minister with such talent.

These incidents remind us that people near to us struggle with depres-sion. All of us have our down days, but few understand the battle that others have with deep sadness much of their lives. Yes, I can say that none of us is alone, that our friends love us, and want to be there for us. Yes, I can say that I believe in hope, which was the theme of my message that Friday morning. I reminded them that we can all make a difference in our world,

Denise Levertov has written:

We have only begun to imagine the fullness of life. How could we tire of hope?—so much is in bud. . .We have only begun to know the power that is in us if we would join our solitudes in the communion of struggle. So much is unfolding that must complete its gesture, so much is in bud.

What we must remember is that some of us cannot see what is unfolding. They can only see the sadness that is in themselves. I was taught many years ago not to challenge those I counsel, just accept their feelings, and be with them. That is my reminder to myself today. I must accept my own sadness, the loss that I feel, and that we all must feel at what has happened.

With George Odell I know that we need one another “when we mourn and would be comforted. We need one another when we are in trouble and afraid . . . all our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us.” May we all reach out to one another with our tears of sadness and our shouts of joy.

the future of the church. They have done good work on this issue this year. There is more work to do. I feel optimistic about the future of Westside, partly because of the new people who have joined this year, and the support they have received from the other members. I do not see deep divisions here. I do see a need to work on Conflict Resolution and Peaceful Communications. I plan to work with the Regional Staff on offering workshops on these issues.

I also see the East Tennessee Cluster that wants to work together. This will be important for most ministers who will consider Westside. Ministers do not want to be isolated and alone. Westside is part of a Cluster that has great ministerial and lay leadership. They meet regularly and plan programs together. If you are considering becoming active in Westside, this is a great time. Important decisions will be made, and a future will be planned. If you want to talk about any of these issues please contact me.

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