Embracing the Neutral Zone

It was lovely to meet several of you in person at the February 20th service! After weeks of Zoom meetings, phone calls, and Zoom-only worship, being in the sanctuary, seeing the choir together in their matching teal scarves, and connecting through bits of impromptu conversation felt like a balm. And for those of you who attended via Zoom–how great to have the option to stay connected that way. A shout-out to the lay ministers, who anchor the Zoom service during multi-platform times.

The mix is convenient, and good, and it’s returning at kind of a strange time. My mind keeps returning to the word “brackish,” these days. Describing water that’s neither fresh nor fully salty, it pops up for me during in-between times. Covid restrictions around Massachusetts and the nation are rapidly evolving even as the virus remains–life is becoming more relaxed despite a definitive pandemic victory. Meanwhile, we’re reacting—as a community, as a country—some with relief, others with apprehension, many (perhaps most) with some emotional mix that changes by the day. Even the weather seems brackish–not quite classic New England winter and not yet true mud season.

This Sunday, February 27, I’ll be giving a reflection about radical hospitality–something I hope the FUUSN community will think about during these brackish times. Individually and collectively, we’re no longer who and what we were two years ago, and we’re not yet who we’ll be after we’ve learned to live with covid more easily. It’s a perfect moment to reflect on what’s next, and I hope that Sunday will feed a nuanced conversation about radical hospitality here at FUUSN.

As I was pulling together my reflection, I considered drawing from the book Transitions, by William Bridges. In it, Bridges differentiates between changes and transitions. Changes are external events in (or affecting) one’s life, while transitions are personally transformative experiences with a psychological component. The constant change of the past two years has catalyzed transitions for many of us, and the FUUSN congregation, I believe, is now in a collective transition, thanks in part to staff changes ahead. Every transition, according to Bridges, starts with an ending, continues with the neutral zone, and ends with a new beginning. My sense is that FUUSN has entered the neutral zone–an emotional and psychic place someone once described to me as “very weird.” It’s a time to look inward and to detach from the rest of the world for a bit, to gather oneself before entering the new beginning.

Does this sound apt to you? I’ve been wondering what a neutral zone looks like for a congregation–maybe some of you remember a time when FUUSN’s had a similar moment?
Transitions didn’t make it into my reflection for this Sunday, but if Bridges’ paradigm resonates with your personal life or as a part of the FUUSN community, it might be with a look. In any event, it’s worth talking informally about what congregational life feels like right now, informally. The neutral zone might feel uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be weird if we’re in it together

I hope to see you this Sunday or to hear from you next week!

-Heather (heather@fusn.org)

More Member Services Notes:
-Thank you to everyone who has uploaded a photo to Realm, or who has started with the process! The more photos we have in Realm, the more it can nurture the FUUSN community. If you have questions or would like help, please let me know.
-If you are knowledgeable about websites and might be interested in helping to refine FUUSN’s site, please email me!
-If you have ideas about (non-religious education) activities at FUUSN, I’d like to hear from you!
-If the member services committee interests you, or if you know someone who might be a good addition to the committee, please contact me (heather@fusn.org) or committee chair Wayne Everett (wayneeverettma@gmail.com)
-Please mark your calendar for the community breakfast on Sunday, April 10 before the service!