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Ministerial Musings: January's Pastoral Letter from Rev. Stefanie

During last month’s Sharing Circles, we explored the complicated relationship between light and dark, both as realities and as metaphors for how we feel on the inside. The more we considered the qualities generally associated with these “opposites”, the easier it was to recognize how binary biases are formed and perpetuated. The desire to categorize and judge everything and everyone as either “this or that” seems to be instinctual. The reality is far more complex.

The more deeply we explored this subject, the closer we came to appreciating that nothing is that easily definable or separable. Everything and everyone is, in fact, connected and interdependent. Light is defined and made meaningful through dark; dark is defined and made meaningful through light. Both, in balance, are necessary.

Similarly, and more personally, life is possible only through an ongoing dynamic binary relationship between the contraction and expansion of our heart and lung muscles. Each experience is both fleeting, and perpetual. I’m sharing this because I’m hoping more of you will want to experience our monthly Sharing Circles (the next is set for after the service on 01/22/23). But also, because, in honor of this month’s theme of CENTERING, I want to draw attention to the value and accessibility of “the center”, the “in-between”, the “non-binary” or “liminal” spaces and experiences that frustrate the instinctual attempts to control and categorize – and allow us to trust CENTER.

This month I invite you to bring compassion to the tendency to seek the certainly of “this or that”, as well as to notice the ways in which that tendency can cause harm and limit the ability to recognize other possibilities and potentialities - including your own ability to feel centered and sourced in the face of life’s complexities!

There are many spiritual disciplines that can help us find our way to the center, to the “deep well between opposites”. One of the simplest involves conscious breathing: noticing and appreciating not only each inhale and exhale, but also the space in-between. No matter what’s going on around us, that center space is there for us. And when we consciously access it, what we bring to the people and experiences around us is far more likely to be centered in our values.

As we shift into the new year, may we each grow in our ability to live from Center.

In Awe & Gratitude,

Rev. Stefanie Etzbach-Dale



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