Religious Exploration Coordinator:
Brigid Chapin has resigned as Sunday Morning Religious Educator. Please see her following article in the Flaming Chalice Dec. 2017. For information on the position, see Religious Exploration Coordinator.
On Leaving: A Reflection, The Flaming Chalice, December 2017
Here is the thing about burnout: even though you know it's coming -- everyone warns you about it from the beginning - you don't do anything about it until one day it slams into your body and knocks you flat. Despite the forewarning, you feel shocked, winded, weakened. You feel like it's all in your head and you should just pack it away and get back to work, because that's what real adults do. That's certainly what real religious professionals do.
And here is the thing about being a religious professional: fostering the growth of a community of any size means diverting your own spiritual energy away from your spiritual center. And while you feed the religious needs of a community, your own needs are easily overlooked. For a while you even think that feeding others feeds you in some paradox of theological return. You think that you don't even have spiritual needs; you're here to serve, and you love it.
My friends, I must tell you that theological multiplicity is a myth, but burnout is very real. As I finally yield to this thing (doing all I can to ignore the voice in my head that whispers 'failure, lazy, it's only been two years')
I move in a direction of feeding my own spirit so that I may better serve the communities of which I am a part; the reality is that sustainable leadership lies in the ability to feed the community with one hand, and oneself with the other. This is not a skill that I have mastered, and the result is that I'm no longer feeding anyone.
In the last year, especially, of feeding and not being fed, my spirit has been quietly but insistently calling me to explore my ancestral Judaism. I'm sure some of you have noticed that I often wear a silver Star of David, so a little history: Emma and I are both Jewish from our mother, whose family came from an Ashkenazi Jewish community in Poland which no longer exists. After our parents separated, we attended Hebrew school at Temple Beth-EI until our shared Bat Mitzvah, and promptly stopped practicing.
I have always struggled with my identity as a Jewish person because I know at one time that I am Jewish, and I feel at the same time that I'm not Jewish enough, because of my atheism. But Judaism, especially reform Judaism, shares a lot with Unitarian Universalism in some key ways: it's a scholarly religion, constantly questioning and looking for answers, in communication with God in a two-way dialogue (imagine Tevye yelling at God in Fiddler on the Roof); and it holds as one of its central tenants tikkun olam, the repair of the world. Social activism as religious practice.
Please, do not take this news as a rebuff of Unitarian Universalism; I love this church and my place in it. And, it is important to me to explore my heritage and understand my Jewish self. The person I am now, who is curious and seeking, grew in a Unitarian Universalist church. I am grateful for the leaders and the parents who have trusted me in this role, who have supported me when I was questioning, who gave me the room to grow. One's future is shaped by the past, and I'm sure that no matter how distantly I wander, Unitarian Universalism will always feel like home.
In sincerest love,
Office HoursBrigid Chapin has resigned as Sunday Morning Religious Educator. For information on the position, see Religious Exploration Coordinator. Applicants should send a letter of interest, resume and contact information of 3 references to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 22, 2017. The hiring committee will schedule interviews the first week in January. The position will begin January 15, 2018.
Click on her name to see her article in the Flaming Chalice Dec. 2017.
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