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Living & Growing: Making an effort to widen the circle

We strive to help care for our neighbors, after all, we’re all in this together.

  • By Pay McLear
  • Thursday, February 3, 2022 11:55am
  • Neighbors

By Pat McLear

Widening the Circle Widening the Circle. That’s the Juneau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s worship theme for the month of February.

It’s a lovely sentiment, but how to do it in this time of “Z church,”services on Zoom? We have no greeter stationed at the door to welcome in newcomers, offer hospitality, extend an enthusiastic greeting.

Certainly, new faces on Zoom are warmly recognized, but you know it’s not the same as in person. The JUUF, like many of Juneau’s faith communities, may not be swinging their doors wide open, but if folks can’t physically come to us, we can go to them. We can, and do, widen our circle as we perform social justice work. We cook and serve meals at the Glory Hall; we work with Family Promise of Juneau to host families with children who are experiencing homelessness; we distribute food along with the good folks at the Congregation Sukkot Shalom each Saturday at the “Little Food Pantry Around the Corner”; and monthly we donate funds to local nonprofits. We strive to help care for our neighbors, after all, we’re all in this together. To widen the circle we also have fun and make a mess as only DIY projects can. We gather safely (vaccinated and masked) to make Social Justice Valentines. Yes, you read that correctly, Social Justice Valentines. It is wet, icy, and often dreary this time of year in the Tongass so we take time to create cards to send to folks who help make our day-to-day lives better. We cut, paste, glue, draw, color, paint to create cards for folks who are surprised when they receive them: custodial staff, waste management folks, mail carriers, plow drivers, the barista who remembers your coffee order. The list goes on and on. It is easy to sit and brainstorm a list of Juneauites who have a positive effect on our lives, on our neighbors’ lives. They may be folks that we know by name or not. We send cards to institutions i.e. JPD, or the CCFR. How about AEL&P or JAR (Juneau Animal Rescue)? Oh, how many acronyms can I list…

The bottom line is that we make an effort to widen the circle, to make folks feel appreciated for their efforts as they make positive contributions to our lives, personally and collectively. Really, don’t we all deserve some glitter and sparkle in our lives? Widen your circle and surprise someone with a valentine made with love. I’ll close with a quote from the Rev. Ericka Hewitt: “May you, too, find helpful wisdom when you need it, and may you be quick to experience both wonder and gratitude.”

• Pat McLear JUUF Lay Leader. Find out more about JUUF online at www.juuf.org.

“Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.

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