I suspect that many of you, like me, have heard the transformation of caterpillars to butterflies presented as a metaphor for change in our lives way too often. Maybe, like me, you begin to tune out when you hear a speaker launching into it. That was my reaction during my sabbatical when I was Zooming into a national meeting of UU ministers and heard the Rev. Karen Hering speaking her equivalent of “Behold, the caterpillar…” early in her workshop based on her new book, Trusting Change: Finding Our Way Through Personal and Global Transformation.  

Luckily, before I began to tune out, she quickly got down translating the book into examples of skills and practices for ministers in these troubled times. I ordered the book. And then I ordered a lot more copies to share. I wanted our Board, other CVUUS leaders, and employees to be reading it as we enter my last year as your minister.

Rev. Hering focuses on the richness of what she calls the “threshold” stage – the time when we are moving, often fitfully, through various aspects of transition. The butterfly at the end is almost beside the point. Here is just one of her overview observations:

“On the threshold, where the ingredients for growth are plentiful, we may have many skins to shed: ideas too small or rigid for what lies ahead; habits, practices, or roles no longer possible or practical; identities, appearances, names or relationships that do not fit who we are becoming; reliance on old networks of awareness not attuned to the new conditions, opportunities, and threats of our changing environments. It is molting that can be terrifying or exhilarating. Often it is both. Always it is a natural requirement of growth.”

If we look at this entire year as a threshold instead of a last go-round, we will grow in ways that matter, whatever the membership numbers and budget end up showing. We will make wonderful memories of nurturing each other and our unique spiritual community in a world trying to destroy so many of the values we seek to teach and embody. We will model commitment to making the world more just, compassionate, and beautiful. We will be known among our neighbors as trust-worthy agents of change grounded in life-sustaining Love.

Blessed be, Rev. Barnaby