The Minister’s Mind: Gone Fishing for Inspiration

One of the things we were taught in seminary was the absolute importance of self-care.   Again and again, we aspiring ministers were asked how we were planning to take care of ourselves and refill our depleted stores of energy and inspiration. Knowing that most ministers are prone to being over-achievers, complete with lives and schedules that are regularly over-full , my teachers prodded, encouraged, demanded, and pushed my colleagues and I to take self-care seriously.  They suggested all sorts of ways to accomplish it: daily prayer and meditation, exercise, dance, singing lessons, journaling…

My friend and colleague, Rev. Mark Belletini explains it this way:

…Ministers, like everyone else in the congregation, long for times of restoration and equilibrium, times that can help bring us back to ourselves.  Such times of restoration are customarily called our devotional life.…  Harry Schofield, my great mentor, says that if we don’t pay attention to our devotional life, we will “dry up and blow away like fragile autumn leaves in a gray rainstorm.”   I agree.              

By the end of June, my spirit does indeed feel parched—or at least quite thirsty. And yet, the reality of a minister’s life—and most of your lives too, if I was to venture a guess—is that without planning, I rarely get around to self-care.  You know how it goes: if I don’t put it on the calendar, the calendar fills up and suddenly there isn’t time for that walk, or poetry class, or quiet moment alone.  And because ministry is an “on-call” profession, even when I’ve planned time for self-care, if a crisis arises, I am off to the hospital or the office.

Then comes summer.  Unitarian Universalist ministers are privileged to have congregations that understand that for  ministers to minister well, they need time to relax, refresh, and reconnect to their sources of inspiration. For me, that means four weeks of vacation each July, and four weeks of study leave which I most often split between early August and midwinter.

I gladly and (almost) without guilt throw myself into my summer vacation.  This summer, after heading to Louisville, Kentucky for General Assembly, I’ll preach the last Sunday of June and then be on vacation. Toni and I may wander back to California for a while, stopping in Salt Lake City to see family and friends. I’m also looking forward to time set aside for art, reading, corresponding with friends I’ve neglected during the church year, and maybe a road trip or two to explore our new Midwestern back yard.  And of course, I’ll set some time aside just to do nothing.

While I’m away, the Board and the Community Care Committee (formerly the Member Care Committee) will hold down the fort. Of course, if there is a true emergency, the President and our administrator will know how to get ahold of me.   But instead of my head swimming with budget projections, ideas for leadership development, sermons and worship services, and all the other details of ministry, my vacation will give me time to empty myself and experience the slow and delicious restoration of my soul. And no doubt, by my return in August, I’ll be brimming with energy and ideas for next year.

Love Will Guide Us,

Rev. Sean


We discovered early Thursday, June 26th that the Nursery and Religious Education Classrooms downstairs had been flooded by at least ten inches of water. Much of the furniture, flooring, and drywall will need to be removed and replaced.

We are scheduling professionals to come make sure that the rooms are dry and to remove any mold or mildew that may have begun to grow. To do this, WE NEED YOU!  June 29 beginning at 9 am we need volunteers to help carry furniture and other items to the garage so that cleaning can begin. When the cleaning and drying is done, there will be lots of other opportunities to help. We will need to replace some flooring, drywall, and furniture. We’ll need to move everything back in and organize the classrooms. We may need to find a couch or two to replace water damaged ones.

If you can lend your arms, legs, back, and strength to help, we would be very grateful.  Many hands make light work and it is a lot more fun to work together.

End of Year Picnic

This year we will be having an “end of year” picnic on Sunday, June 30 immediately after the service. Please bring a dish to share and a spirit of gratitude and celebration. We’ll have a regular Sunday Service and then move outside for feasting, fun, and a surprise or two.  The Board, Fellowship Committee, and Worship Arts committee could use helpers for set up and clean up. Contact Shelley Nicholson to volunteer. Label your dish and serving utensils.  We will be serving/eating outside.  Water and Lemonade will be provided.

Please join us to celebrate our first full church year in our lovely new building–and our lovely new name!

sUUmer Camp

June 10 – 19 We’ll be offering a UU Summer camp. Each day of camp will feature one of our Unitarian Universalist principles and will include a variety of activities and games. Kids from church and kids from the larger community are welcome!

The Minister’s Mind: Joy

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe word of the month for June is “joy.” What a wonderful word for our community to ponder! The funny thing about joy is that you can’t make it happen. You have to discover it. It’s as if joy is shy—it waits to be discovered, it doesn’t usually jump up and shout, “Hey, look at me! Here I am! Notice me!” So with that in mind, here are some ideas for finding more joy in your life:

  1. Find someone you’re glad is a part of your life. Take time to tell them.
  2. Watch a child play. Enjoy their enjoyment.
  3. Sing. In the choir, in the shower, in your car…
  4. Take time to play.
  5. Take time to breathe.
  6. Take time to be with someone who makes you smile.
  7. Say “I love you,” and really feel it.
  8. Find a way to give a secret gift or be a secret admirer.
  9. Make a date with yourself. Go out for coffee or to dinner.
  10. Dance.
  11. Call an old friend. Reminisce.
  12. Make a list of things you appreciate about yourself.
  13. Make a list of things you appreciate about someone you love.
  14. Share it.
  15. Make more time for conversation in your life.
  16. Do something spontaneous.
  17. Tackle that job you’ve been procrastinating. Feel proud of yourself when you do it.
  18. Stop and smell the flowers. (even if they’re in the grocery store!)
  19. Create something. (a song, a meal, a picture, a love letter, a birdhouse, a limerick…)
  20. Go outside. Notice the beauty of this good earth.
  21. Give something away without regret.
  22. Count your blessings.
  23. Play.
  24. Put on a smile on your face and a spring in your step and see what happens.
  25. Mend a quarrel or forgive a disagreement.
  26. Make three wishes come true.
  27. Appreciate something you’ve accomplished. Give yourself a gold star.
  28. Play a game. Do a puzzle. Tell jokes.
  29. Listen. To a friend, to nature, to music, to silence.
  30. Take joy in the everyday, the ordinary, the things you would miss if they went away.

Joy is all around us. We just need to take time to notice and cooperate.

Love Will Guide Us,

Rev. Sean