Margie Allen is our new Associate Minister. I couldn’t be more pleased or enthused.
The congregation’s vote at the special meeting to call Margie was as near to unanimous as any thoughtful person would want. There were four No votes, and one Abstention. As I’ve told colleagues many times, “Let’s face it, you will never have 100% approval; it’s unrealistic, and it’s dangerous to expect or want it.”
There were four No votes at the meeting to call me, twenty-two years ago. At the end of my first year I said from the pulpit, “Four people voted against my coming here—so far I’ve found seventeen of you!” Now I’d say that those four seats are like musical chairs–occupants change.
We ministers often take ourselves too seriously. You who occupy the pews often take yourselves too seriously, too. We take turns. They say that a minister must have a tough skin and a tender heart. The same goes for those of you who make this place your spiritual home.
During the first service on Sunday, when Margie was in the pulpit, I thought about the opening line of Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” It occurred to me that two travelers coming in the opposite direction at the same time would merge into the place where Frost’s traveler was standing by himself for such a long time. “And sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood.”
I don’t recall that there were any abstentions in the vote twenty-two years ago, but I like the idea of an abstention. It says, “I’ll wait and see.”
What does it mean to wait and see? To me it means, “I’ll wait to see how you’ll wear with the years; whether you’ll show up, tell the truth, do what you do with enthusiasm, and avoid getting too attached to the outcomes.”
The idea of roads that are merging, rather than diverging, was brought to mind when Margie met with the staff last week. Jan told us about her trip to Charleston, SC, where she and Rob visited the Unitarian Church. David reported on the Darfur rally he attended in D.C. Debra talked about being in the City to participate in the rally to end the war in Iraq. Ed, Jamie and Janet were at the Metro District annual meeting in Stamford. Manish had been in St. Petersburg, FL where he was called to be their new minister. I was with our Coming of Age class on ‘the Boston trip.’
Debra commented, “I’m struck by how much we are all are doing in the larger world, beyond the doors of Lyons Plains Road–we take the church with us as we go.”
The poetic image of two roads merging in Frost’s imagined woods was replaced by the more accurate picture of many roads merging in the wooded lot we occupy on Lyons Plains Road.
Margie became our new Associate Minister last Sunday. She told us about her vision of what we can yet become; we’ve shared with her some memories of where we’ve been, so far. Now it’s on to the next chapter of this unfolding story, in this place where we meet to seek the highest.