'Tis the season of budgets and stewardship dinners and canvass meetings one-on-one in homes, and this year, tis a season of sweaty palms and much worry.
Wouldn't it be great to trust? To know that all will work out? That just the right person will get a big windfall or promotion and will help everyone else out for the year by tossing lots of extra funds into the collection plate?
Yep. It would.
But I'm from midwestern stock. I think worrying was a sport at my high school. And I think maybe I lettered. Twice.
We cut in our Religious Education budget request this year. Oh man did we cut. Our RE program has no fuss, no muss, no frill and not one bell or whistle. But our staff (nursery, Story Time teacher, Spirit Play teacher and Associate DRE) will be retained and if things go well, will even see tiny increases in pay. My atheist husband keeps saying "Buddha provides" but I know Buddha was a rich prince who woke up. We need more than him.
We need our folks, our peeps, our dear ones to donate. Not what they can give easily, but what makes a dent, leaves a little space in life. Maybe one or two less dinners out a month. Maybe take a month off from Karate. Maybe downsize the vacation. Maybe put the donation they mean to make each month on the automatic bill payer.
When I was a young mother we were broke. I mean really broke. It was the last really big recession after the Berlin wall fell, we had a baby, my husband was 8 credits away from a degree in Aerospace Engineering and there was not one job in his field. Not one. We pieced together a living. I worked for Eddie Bauer in bits in the evening. The other evenings he worked at a liquor store. During the days he drove a parts truck for a car dealership. Afternoons I coached a swim team with the baby in a backpack. (Those teenaged girls on that team got a real life lesson in breastfeeding, no doubt!) We paid the rent on our run down, wrong-side-of-the-tracks apartment. The month before the baby was born we paid rent with work, my husband painted the outside of the apartment building. The money was so tight. We bought food (WIC bought some food). But we had nothing extra.
It took a long time before we could give any real money to our church. But we got there. When we moved here to Seattle and turned in our pledge card the assistant treasurer told us that we only had to pledge for half the year, since we'd come in half way thru the fiscal year. I knew that, the total on our pledge card was half a year's pledge. I got it. Money makes the church go round, and to me, the church was worth it.
My children have grown up in UU churches. From birth on. They are fine young men. Really fine. Growing up in a church community is no small part of who they are. In fact, it's huge. Second only to family. Our faith has influenced them in a huge way. I think I know why. They saw that it mattered to me, and so it mattered to them. I valued church. I brought them even when they were crabby about it, I worked hard in the church long, long before I was paid to. I ran soup lunches and Halloween parties and taught years and years of classes. And I pledged. Not a number that was easy, but what was needed.
At church my sons heard good stories, learned good values, saw what community means, came to know people from different walks of life and learned what it is to live a covenant. How could they not grow into fine young men with all of that? It was worth a million times more than I paid for it.
I am going to hope that Buddha provides some of that kind of energy in my dear congregation this year. And that it all works out. Until then, I guess I'll just wear my jacket--you know the letter jacket from the Varsity Worrying Team, class of 85.