November Message from the Board President

This fall has felt like a real grind. Resources and energy have been limited, stressors have been high. We’ve all been functioning under the weight of huge uncertainty and often grim realities for months on end. It’s a lot for each individual to hold and any community to weather. 

Although I wasn’t totally conscious of it, I realize now that, on some level, I was hoping the election would be a massive relief. Instead, the way it played out was tense and grueling and it’s become clear that a sense of relief is further off into the horizon than I would have liked.

The pandemic continues to surge, and many of us have had to come to terms with the fact that our holidays this year will not be what we’d hoped. For the last couple of years, my family has driven to Montana to celebrate holidays with the kid’s grandmoms. Having spent my whole adult life far from my family, I’ve really treasured this time and will deeply miss it this year. 

Sadly, we’re having to accept that it’s going to be awhile before we get where we’d like to be. I believe that how we get through this time together will be defining for our community. We’ve had a lot of losses and a lot to let go of, and we have opportunities to begin anew and dig deeper into our values and love for eachother. How do we do our best in this moment?

We need to hold space for the emotions that are hard while nourishing the bonds of trust and connection. A community is a web of relationships, and within relationships, trust in one another increases resilience and allows communication and collaboration to work more effectively. When there’s a lack of trust, things feel more difficult, complicated, and draining, which we can ill afford in already challenging circumstances. In “The Science of Trust,” relationship researcher John Gottman explores what trust means relationally and proposes that trust is grounded in the belief that the other person will act in a way that prioritizes your own wellbeing. I think that’s beautiful, because it’s rooted in how we show up for each other in each moment. In every moment of interaction with each other we are empowered to build trust with our actions–to show up thoughtful, responsive, or authentically generous. When it’s possible, showing up for each other like this can be a powerful way to support the health of the congregation as a whole.

Many have voiced concerns about keeping our community connections healthy and I understand how much people are missing being together in person. Those fears and losses are real. Because we’re in this for a long haul, it’s a time for us to get creative and invest in the ways we can connect. There are new opportunities to come together virtually to help foster our connections and bring some shared joy–I hope you’ll find connections that feel fun and meaningful to you. 

In this time it is all the more important that we offer kindness, support each other, seek out what we can be grateful for and show that gratitude to one another. 

I am grateful for each of you,

Vanessa Shaughnessy

WSUU Board President

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