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The Benefits of Adaptation

By Rev. Carol Bodeau

Dear friends,

For the last 18 months, we have all been on a rollercoaster. Constant changes in plans, expectations, and hopes have kept us all wondering just exactly what will happen next—in our families, in our communities, and in our world. As we know, adaptability is essential to survival, and we have certainly needed to adapt over the last year and a half. And it looks likely that this will not change anytime in the near future.

At present, we are planning to return to in-person, indoor services at Westside on Sunday, September 5th. We plan to hold our annual Water Communion ingathering service in our sanctuary. It will look similar, in many ways, to past services, but also be quite different. While we will be pouring waters together to represent the coming together of our lives and spirits, we will do so with a few new twists. To accommodate on-going concerns over corona virus, we will observe the following rules:

• Masks required for all, regardless of vaccination status

• We will sit socially distant by family/friend groups

• No coffee hour after the service

• A shorter service, with no congregational singing

So we need to adapt our old ways into newer ways. And there’s a good chance that, in coming months, we will need to adapt again. It’s impossible to predict what the situation will be with the pandemic in another two or three months, so we will all have to keep our minds and hearts open. And it seems to me that this is a good practice to bring into the rest of our lives, as well.

For me, being adaptive means not making assumptions about how things will turn out, based on what’s happening right now. Surely, it can be helpful to have some expectations of where we’d like to go, and some understanding of the terrain, which might mean knowing the people we’ll be interacting with, or factual information about our circumstances, or having a good sense of our own limitations. But it’s also helpful to have beginner’s mind, to consider that things might not turn out the same this time as other times, or that we might be pleasantly surprised. Being adaptable also means that we stay present in the moment, with curiosity rather than with pre-set assumptions. It means seeing with fresh eyes. And that also means noticing when we are seeing through the lens of our biases—based in past experience, or social conditioning, or our own fears or desires.

And of course, we need to be kind…to ourselves and to one another. Let’s remember that, no matter what is happening, we come together to provide a place of learning, growth, support, and nourishment for each and all. Whatever happens, let us strive to respond with kindness and care, and to hold one another with compassion and gentleness. It’s been a tough last year, and we have all been changed. It will be good to be back together, in whatever ways that is possible.

See you soon,

Rev. Carol

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