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The Interdependent Web of All Existence

By Grechen Wingerter, President of the Board of Trustees

I’ve been thinking a lot about connections lately, even more so since the Board retreat and our church service this last Sunday. Our seventh UU principle — Respect for the Interdependent Web of All Existence of Which We Are a Part — is one I often come back to when I reflect on the sometimes overwhelming responsibility of knowing how we are all connected in so many ways — and also how easy it is to lose those connections if we don’t make the effort to maintain and nurture them.

One of the things we have been missing most these past 20 months is personal connections outside our immediate family circles. Sure, some of us have gone back to work, our kids have gone back to school, and we have seemingly returned to “normal”. But what is that normal? It’s different now. Our social circles have changed, have gotten smaller — or we’ve lost some of them all together. We spend less time gathering and talking, less time sharing food, less time sharing experiences. How do we keep and nurture those connections we have built when the means and methods of doing so have changed? It takes commitment and it takes flexibility, along with understanding and compassion. It isn’t always easy.

I tend to consider myself to be an extroverted-introvert. Due to the nature of my job – a theatre and occasional public speaking college professor – I have learned how to be extroverted when needed. But that doesn’t mean I am “on” all the time. Sometimes I need to rely on my theatre and acting training in order to gather the momentum to get in front of a room full of college students. Some days, despite knowing I have a job to do – and a job I love -- I would rather be in my own little comfortable cocoon. The only child in me needs that solo time. And yet, I also crave connections with people. In those connections, I prefer small, intimate interactions over large group activities. As I get older, I find that to be even more true.

We are at a point here at Westside – and if I am being totally honest, we are past the point of needing to reconnect, to rebuild and nurture our connections as a congregation for the overall health and well-being of our church as a whole. Over the next few weeks, the Board of Trustees and the Re-Opening Committee will be determining the next steps we take in the re-opening process. We’ve already had numerous discussions, emails, Zoom meetings, etc. regarding the re-opening plan. We’ve had plans, had them change, made new plans, had them change – and repeat – since March 2020. We greatly appreciate the patience and grace our congregation has shown while we figure out the best way forward for all of us in this interdependent web at Westside. It’s not been easy, nor have we taken the safety and well-being of all of our congregants lightly. Together, we will get there and reshape our circle.

Peace, love and connections

Grechen Wingerter

President, Board of Trustees

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