À Bientôt! (See You Soon!)

Dear Westsiders,

This is the week that summer really begins for me. By the time you read this, I will be in France, on a long-awaited trip to get to know my spouse’s family. Here I’ll offer some of the back story because it’s a part of my life that is important to me.

I’ve been to France once before. It was over New Year of 2020, after my partner, Baptiste, and I had been dating for about a year. I spoke a small amount of Duolingo French, and while our relationship was serious enough to warrant the trip, it felt pretty low-pressure. Soon after, the pandemic hit, and Baptiste was laid off from his job–the one that granted him a visa to live in the US–in the same week that Trump shut down the borders and declared a halt on the issuance of new visas. We had a choice to make: would he return to France in this time of fear and uncertainty, not knowing when he would return; should we break up, try long distance, or get married?

For us, getting married was the choice that took the most courage, as it happened way ahead of our expected timeline. It symbolized a major life change and diving into uncertainty in a time when the world was being rocked by major change, and “uncertainty” was everyone’s favorite buzzword. We had a short, but meaningful ceremony in June of 2020, at the First Parish in Cambridge, MA, with only the minister and our housemates present in the chapel, the rest of our loved ones tuning in by Zoom.

After three years of being family to each other, many French classes, and multiple cross-country moves, it is time for us to go back to France for a visit. Seriously, I share this all because I want to express my deep and personal gratitude that Westside is a place that is celebrating and making space for me to take this trip. In all areas of my life, it is important to act with courage and love, and to make time for familial bonds. Thank you for helping me do that.

And you’ll be fine while I’m gone! You were fine before I got here. We have such a strong staff and lay leadership here; this community is in good hands.

On the worship side of things, we will have a guest speaker joining us later this month to talk about Radical Vulnerability. In August, the worship team will lead a service on spiritual practices.

In the case of an emergency where pastoral care is needed, please reach out to any staff member or our board President, and they will contact me so that we can arrange for a local colleague to provide care.

While I’ll be somewhat off grid this next month, I’ll be busy dreaming and scheming for next year. The Worship Team and I have worked to produce a series of monthly themes to guide our congregational life, which leaves many sermon topics for me to chew on and brainstorm. This is also a time for discerning the next phases of our right relations work, as well as possibilities for adult education and fellowship opportunities.

I also will be resting, reflecting, and renewing. May all of us make time for rest this summer. May we enjoy the offerings of nature in this season, and delight in good company wherever we find ourselves.

Until next time,

Rev. Carter

PS: If you want to view my schedule for the coming months, it has been copied to our church calendar on the website.

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