As some of you have discovered through our online Tree of Life game
nights over the past few months, I love playing games. I am especially
fond of games that involve group storytelling. When this COVID-19
pandemic began, I put out a call to my clergy colleagues to see if
others might be interested in forming a weekly “Dungeons and Dragons”
online gathering to help us stay connected and have a bit of
lighthearted fun in what we knew was likely to be a heavy and serious
time ahead. Gathering virtually with a handful of playful, creative
colleagues each week has been important for my emotional and spiritual
health. Together, we weave stories about lost miners, giant chickens,
and magic spells. Over the holidays, Santa himself made an appearance
in one of these imaginative tales.
“Imagination” is our UU Soul Matters theme for the month of January.
What is capturing your imagination at the start of this new year? Are
you imagining what life will look like as the pandemic hopefully eases?
Are you imagining new possibilities for your relationships, your health,
your work, or other personal pursuits? Are you imagining what policy
changes might come from a new federal administration or what work might
be done here in our own community to bring about greater peace and
And what about our collective imagining at Tree of Life? The interim
period of ministry is a time when congregations are invited to imagine
what the future of the church might look like. This type of imagining
asks us to dream together. How might that differ from imagining as an
individual? Do we have what we need to bring our own ideas to the table
while staying open to the influence of others? Anyone who has
participated in improvisational theater and storytelling games has
encountered the “YES, AND…” approach: When we are engaged in collective
imagining, it can be helpful (and a lot more fun) to take an attitude of
openness and acceptance, to welcome others’ ideas and try to build upon
them rather than quash or counter them with our own pre-formed plans.
How does that idea feel to you when it comes to imagining the future of
Tree of Life?
Of course, imagining the future of a congregation is often more serious
than a storytelling game. There are bound to be some disagreements and
conflicts along the way, even as we strive to listen, accept, and build
together. We need not fear such moments. They have a lot to teach us,
too! But let’s take this month of January to reflect on the lifegiving
and creative potential of collective imagining and shared storytelling
as we prepare to continue this important interim work at Tree of Life
together in 2021.
Rev. Jenn Gracen
If you want to further explore Imagination for yourself, email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a copy of the Imagination packet from Soul Matters.