Beginning Again


Dear friends,

It is New Year’s Eve, and a time for making commitments. Yesterday, I attended our annual Janus service at Westside, in which we burn papers representing the things we wish to let go of, to make room for the new that might come in this year. Like our lives, even this ritual, which has been practiced at Westside for many years, goes through changes and transformations. This year, it was led by Chris Edkins and Helen Rose, both of whom mentioned the impact previous Janus services, led by its originator, Bill Calhoun, had on them.

So, as we know from the song, ‘every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.’ We must abide in deep gratitude for the new beginnings that came before, and yet always be open to the next step, the next stage, of growth that awaits us.

It can be easy to rest comfortably in what we already ‘know,’ in the ways things ‘have always been.’ To make true change, either because we ourselves are uncomfortable with some aspect of our lives, or to make those we care about more comfortable, or perhaps to just live more fully into our best selves—making true change requires beginner’s mind. This is the curious, open, undecided place of allowing ourselves to not already know the answer. Of being a learner, rather than a teacher; of being uncertain, rather than certain; of being a good listener and a non-judgmental student.


One of the areas we are being asked to do this, this year, is in our Welcoming Congregation status. Many of you will remember Westside becoming a “Welcoming Congregation,” the process by which UU communities learn about and develop practices to be open and truly safe places for LGBTQ people. This year, all UU’s are being asked to take a fresh look at what this means. We are being asked to ‘upgrade’ to the most current version of language, practices, and beliefs about LGBTQ/TGQNB** issues. And, no, I didn’t know what the latest addition to the acronym meant, either, until I started trying to update my own education, just this week.

We’ll be doing a whole service on this topic on Jan. 27. I hope you’ll join me in learning more, opening my mind and heart more, and helping to make WUUC an even more ‘welcoming congregation.’ And if you’re interested in being part of the process of renewing Westside’s Welcoming Congregation status, please contact me.

In faith and peace,

Rev. Carol

**It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/ Transgender, Genderqueer, Non-Binary.


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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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