Dear Beloved Ordaining Congregations (and All Sentient Beings Present) at my Ordination Yesterday:

I am flush with gratitude.

IMG_20160606_145705561Each time I turned my face towards you, I beheld so so so many of you out there.  At first it felt like I was stealing glances at you.  I felt brazen.  Then I felt more courageous and eventually more confident.

There you were: a full to brimming space, dear ones from a broad swath of my life: long-time friends and recent companions; family of blood and choice; people I spent the morning with barefoot and taking communion; some I’d not seen in nearly 30 years and several continents away; some of you were straight out strangers, and yet now we are forever bound.

There you were: a room full of my chosen people and people who have chosen me; people who have known me long before ministry was ever a glint in my eye and might have laughed at the notion; and those of you who grew my ministry up, those of you who told me I was a minister even when I placed my hands over my ears and shouted “la la la — I can’t hear you!” – you were there. So many shapes and sizes and flavors and textures.

I am flush with gratitude. 

Present, too, were so many spirits flitting about the Great Hall in which we found ourselves listening and singing and moving and shouting, “Hallelujah!” Spirits of loved ones gone from us, delighting in the power of the day. Spirits of dear ones at a geographical distance who wished to be there, but sent their well wishes and high hopes.

I am flush with gratitude.

TO THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS THERE: Thank you. You were a powerful people yesterday. Not just because you raised up, named, and conferred ordination on another minister in our faith movement; not just because you stepped into your power and authority to name your spiritual leaders with integrity and joy; but because you felt the potential and truth of YOUR ministry. You were challenged and charged to EMBODY, not just think, not even just do, but EMBODY compassion and justice now. Not just read, not just talk, EMBODY. Shout, praise, raise hands, get uncomfortable, move, sway, sweat, all of it: EMBODY IT. You were a powerful people yesterday, the possibility pulsing through us.

I actively, humbly, thoroughly received your collective electricity yesterday.  It vibrates within me today. I will return again and again in my heart and mind to this day as I find comfort and inspiration in this shared act of love and hope. You told me that I was not alone.  When you spoke that line in your vow, I looked out at all of you, and knew beyond knowing that it was true.

An insufficient expression of my gratitude without bounds:

Thank you to the “free-range” Unitarian Universalists who, for whatever reasons find it too complicated to come to Sunday morning services, yet still feel their connection to this wide faith movement and came out of joy, support, and friendship.

Thank you, too, to dear ones who are not UU, religiously-affiliated or delightfully non-religious: the breadth you bring to my understanding of the spiritual mechanics and flow of this reality is essential and I hope never to be without you.

Thank you to the dear colleagues, interfaith and UU, who processed and brought their witness to the day.

Thank you to those clergy and religious educators, lay leaders and family members, who participated in the ceremony and made it rich beyond anything I could have imagined.

Thank you to the busy bees, the ones running around in the weeks and days and hours beforehand, probably during, as well as afterwards, providing tasty food, then cleaning up — such generous service for which I am deeply grateful.  You are my unsung heroes.

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Thank you for the delightful, creative, super sweet prayer flags that lined the space and which will keep me good company in the years to come.

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Thank you for the abundance, glorious abundance, of flowers upon flowers upon flowers which now overflow throughout my home, declaring beauty and in a few days, will remind me of the impermanence of all things.

IMG_20160606_144454233Thank you for the gorgeous stoles, each with a beautiful story and an artistic challenge to minister faithfully.

From Village Church & West Cummington Church.

From Village Church & West Cummington Church.

From the Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence

From the Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence

from First Parish Church of Groton

from First Parish Church of Groton

Thank you for the music: the love with which it was sung made my heart leap and my eyes weep.

Thank you and BIG SHOUT OUT to The Unitarian Society of East Brunswick who was represented by some stalwart folks who made the journey from New Jersey to celebrate — I can hardly wait to come share ministry with you!

Thank you Village Church of Cummington and West Cummington Church for witnessing me.

And though lastly, it is because it is mostly: thank you, Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence and First Parish Church of Groton for ordaining me.

13391433_10153714615918325_8425236932425591143_oIt has been a wild ride and by no means is it over.  In fact, it is just beginning, by which I mean, it continues.  Endings, beginnings, and continuity: all one.

I am flush with gratitude.

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10 Responses to Dear Beloved Ordaining Congregations (and All Sentient Beings Present) at my Ordination Yesterday:

  1. Noële Sandoz says:

    Oh, Karen….congratulations to your well deserved ordination. You have turned you life and responsibilities totally to accomplish the goal of becoming a ” Preacher Lady”! You’ve got the strength and now the education to grow in this field.
    You know I wish you the very best only as well as for your family. With many affectionate thoughts, Noële

  2. The stole you received from the Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence is made by my mother-in-law!! She is a lifelong fabric artist and a master quilter, and learned more about stoles when I entered seminary.

    Here is her website: http://marilyn-napoline.squarespace.com.

  3. Pat Hartvigsen says:

    It was so beautiful, Karen. It brought us joy to be there with you!

  4. Martha says:

    Oh Karen to have missed this makes my heart bleed ,,,heavy with missing you yesterday and heavy with a constant presence I felt of with and for you all afternoon. Glory glory as some would say… I hope you felt my spirit in the rafters because I was singin a song of joy for you – the road traveled and the road ahead. Many blessings much joy and always equanimity.

    • KGJ says:

      You were there, Martha. Body: no. But spirit: yes. I love that we met and knew we were on a shared path so quickly, even if it has diverged since.

  5. Marta Valentin says:

    dear Karen, you need to know that even though I was deep into Jaiya’s recital at your appointed hour, you rose into my consciousness and I smiled a big smile in spite of missing it. What a beautiful reflection you wrote about yesterday, half way through I wondered if EB was present and they were! That says EVERYTHING, we deliver you to loving hands and hearts. Welcome to the ministry, I’m glad I’ve witnessed a little piece (un poquito) of it.

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