Stewardship Testimonial – Tracy Burrows 4.23.23

This morning, as I was considering what to say about why it feels right to invest in Westside’s future in this moment, I thought of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…So bear with me as I riff off this poem to show love for WSUU 

The ways in which we have endured. A pandemic, difficult leadership transitions, social change and social justice movements that have challenged us. Yes, and. We are still here, sprouting up new ways to heal ourselves and the earth (as you’ll hear about today), setting out on new beginnings– growing out of a really tough time to be healthier than ever.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem. I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need. I love the ways that we gather on Sunday, here and at home, to set aside time to our quiet needs for connection, stillness, time to breathe, reflection, inspiration, coffee.  Even sometimes, I admit it, a short refreshing nap. These are all restorative practices built into our experience here.

I love the way our Shannon, Scott, Jade and Rev. Carter model leadership – gratitude, kindness, capability, caring, inclusion.  I could name so many people in our congregation who serve as role models for me in different ways. Rick Taylor is absolutely one of them – creative, caring and deep, and I don’t mean to single him out, but he’s bringing his whole self to leading the service today, so he comes to mind. The people here show us how to live more humanely, with courage, and love. I am so lucky to have a community right here that does this on such a consistent, unexpected, and glorious basis.  

I love the ways in which this community continues to nurture and care for me. And help me grow. Over these past few months, Westside and our right relations work with Pam Orbach has been a tremendous source of personal growth for me – starting with self-compassion, and recognizing and meeting my needs so that I have the capacity to care to for others.  I can see ways in which I haven’t always had the capacity to care for our leaders – leaders who had to make very difficult decisions. And I can see that there are things I can change in myself to free up that capacity. And the beautiful thing is that my husband Steve told me that my learning has been rubbing off on him and strengthening our relationship. I can see a time soon when we are all going to be rubbing off on each other and expanding our caring exponentially!! We can be on this journey together with our community and healing circles at whatever level works for us. Isn’t that cool? 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes “I love thee with the breath, Smiles. Tears. All of my life.” I love all of you for seeing the potential for growth and transformation here at Westside. And I hope that you are able to think of many other ways that you love and derive support from this community. 

We are at the tail end of our pledge drive – the stretch run. If you really know me, you know that I am a competitive person who is learning to live with more compassion. But old habits die hard and I don’t like to think of us as falling short, but rather that we’re on our way towards meeting our goal – and we can do this together. This very morning as we are able. A huge thank you to those who’ve already dug a little deeper to support the drive. Steve and I are going to increase our pledge by 10% this morning via a text. As you are able, please consider stretching to support this beautiful community.

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