It brought me great joy to spend a week visiting my grandmother, family, and friends in Ohio as the scarlet oak, sugar maple, and flowering dogwood trees transitioned to their autumnal splendor. I went for many long walks on the beaches of Lake Erie and through the deep and beautiful forests that were my childhood haunts. Family and friends gathered together for meals at some of my favorite restaurants, and we even found time for roller coasters! It was a relaxing and restorative visit after so many months of partnering with our many congregational leaders to lead our beloved community through such a challenging period of history.
Connecting with one’s roots can be a grounding experience that provides perspective and it can help one connect with one’s deepest self. Ordinarily, we can get so caught up in the immediacy of our lives that we forget our beings stretch through time and we leave pieces of ourselves everywhere we’ve been. Strolling on my college campus, exploring the natural world, and spending time with beloveds helped me to remember the richness of my life and the many important people, places, events, and communities that formed me into the person I am today.
Our Soul Matters theme for spiritual reflection this month is “Holding History.” Each month, our congregation aspires to reflect together on themes of religious significance through our publications, small groups, and Sunday worship services. November is always a month for me to reflect on the blessings of my life even as I remember and grieve the pain and suffering of my Indigenous siblings that is so often erased in this season of giving thanks.
Holding History asks us to reflect on our roots and to remember all that brought us into being, and that holds us in our living, and to offer thanks for it all. Some of the great guiding questions you’re invited to reflect upon in exploring this month’s theme include: What memory holds your truest self? What memories help you hold on to yourself? What memory will die with you if you don’t pass it on? What memory has been with you the longest? What does it want from you so badly that it has held onto you for so long? Have you figured out the story you want to be remembered by?
Let’s continue to prioritize sustainability, regenerativity, and spaciousness in our lives as we move towards the winter months. The stresses, anxieties, and fatigue are all realities for many of us, so we must center the life-giving activities, spaces, practices, and people that are helping us to weather this pandemic. This would be a good time to have a holistic check-in and consider how you’re doing in heart (emotionally), mind (mentally), body (physically), and soul (spiritually).
Remember to ask for help if you need it, to remain hopeful, and to practice good boundaries to manage the challenges of life. Our Pastoral Associates are available to support you if you’re in a difficult space and they can be confidentiality contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also want to acknowledge life’s triumphs and sorrows so please do let us know if there’s anything you’d like shared on a Sunday morning by using the same email address.
Yours in love and ministry,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae