September 2023

Welcome back! And welcome if you are new, or thinking of joining us.

I’ve been asking myself what it would mean to cultivate a practice of welcome - to engage intentionally, in my own heart and mind, to a practice of hospitality to new people, new experiences, new ideas, new places.

My husband Booker and I recently spent two days in the Berkshires. We saw the Edvard Munch landscape exhibit at the Clark Museum, and amazing performances by the French dance troupe COMPAGNIE KÄFIG at Jacob’s Pillow and of August Wilson’s Fences at Shakespeare & Company. It all left me feeling moved, astounded, curious, and alive.

Joan Chittister, O.S.B., an American nun and wise woman, wrote that without new people and new experiences we become imprisoned inside ourselves. Could an intentional practice of welcoming have the opposite effect - freeing us, helping us to become more open and feel more alive?

Engaging with the arts away from home is wonderful, but probably doesn’t work for most of us on a daily basis. As with any practice, I suspect one of hospitality to the new would begin with paying attention - noticing our initial responses to new ideas, experiences or people and setting an intention to be welcoming. It would mean moving towards rather than away from what’s unfamiliar. It would mean taking risks.

My granddaughter Kassandra just started college at Rhodes, a small liberal arts school in Memphis, TN. She has never lived apart from her family before, but as an immigrant and a child with a parent in the U.S. Army she has a lot of experience meeting new situations and new people. I may get some tips from her.

September is time for being welcomed into and welcoming new ideas, experiences and people - especially for many of the children and young adults in our lives, and for everyone who works with them. May we embrace hospitality to the new as we begin this year together.

It is an honor to be your minister.Janets signature