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Fearless Generosity

Rev. Carol Bodeau, Minister

It has been a wonderful time of new hope and energy at Westside this last month. Our alternative-auction event in early March was a huge success, and exceeded our hopes for both participation and revenue generated. The community raised nearly $12,000 in support of Westside. Thank you! And our conversations about the future of Westside have been both encouraging and provocative. The members and friends of Westside are making clear to each other, and to the leadership, that you care about this church, about this community, and about sharing Unitarian Universalism with more people who need its hopeful and welcoming message.

As we move into the last few months of our ‘church year,’ we are planning and preparing for the future. New leadership has been elected to step in as our new fiscal year begins in July, and we are preparing our budget for the 2016-2017 year. At this time, we reach out to you for your financial commitments for the coming year.

So often, we approach the topic of money with concern, reservations, and even fear. We worry about leaving a legacy for our children, or being prepared for unexpected events, or just making ends meet. Whether we are struggling and falling short, getting by month-to-month, or even doing pretty well, Americans as a whole have a pretty cautious relationship with money. Studies suggest that even folks who are well-off still fret an awful lot about their money. But this leaves us all feeling tired, anxious, and ever on-guard. And that doesn’t encourage real and lasting feelings of openness, optimism, or hope.

What if we treated our relationship with money like our relationships with other people? How would your partner feel if you regarded him or her with constant planning, analysis, and list-making? If we said, “Well your performance this month was barely adequate; I need to transfer my resources to a more productive investment!” Or if we offered only cautious optimism every time we contemplated the people we love? Spiritual teacher Rikka Zimmerman suggests falling in love with our money and resources, seeing them as true pleasures, really reveling in each encounter we have together. (This works for human relationships, too, by the way.) This is different from being greedy, or materialistic, which we rightly want to avoid. It is, instead, cultivating a true attitude of gratitude.

What if we saw each bill we paid as a privilege? If we said, “Wow, I have heat in my home! How amazing is that?” or “I am so lucky to have the luxury of Netflix!” What if each bite of food was truly treasured, or each mortgage payment honored? Sometimes, I’m so busy fretting about the next pile of bills that I forget to feel incredibly blessed by all the things I have already accumulated, and that I invest in maintaining.

Take a moment today and look around at everything that you have. It’s incredible! We in the west are wealthy beyond measure, really. Yes, many people are struggling to make it in this consumer-driven culture and yet our resources are truly abundant. We would all feel better, and be more able to connect rather than compete, if we saw our world as abundant, and ourselves as rich, no matter what our financial balance sheets look like. So no matter how much you feel you are able to pledge or donate to Westside this year—whether it’s a few dollars or a few thousand dollars—I invite you to see yourself as living a life of abundance. If you are part of the Westside community, I can guarantee one thing: you are rich with the welcome, love and caring of your community. Take a moment to receive and truly feel that, and all the other gifts available to you each day.

With gratitude for all the gifts we share,

Rev. Carol

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