I woke up this morning thinking about the people at Unity Church of Olympia, Washington. My husband and I were at the church this last weekend. It was a "try-out" weekend where both sides--the congregation and we, as their potential ministers, get a chance to to get to know each other. It is kind of like dating and I couldn't help thinking about the shows "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette". You have a very short time together to find out if you're compatible and want to commit to one another. But, like these shows, you are not the only candidate. In this case, there are two other candidates to follow over the next two weekends.
Bob and I have gone through this process several times before, one of which was in Hollywood, Florida where we served as ministers previously. Before we visited Unity of Hollywood, we went to two other churches, both of which had great people. Both of these churches felt strongly about us and were ready to hire us as their ministers. But we knew in our hearts that neither church was "our church". It was an intuitive knowing, a feeling that came to us. So as we left both of these congregations after our try-out weekends, there was a sadness that came over us, but also a knowing that Divine Order was established and that there would be a congregation that was right for us.
When we went to Unity of Hollywood, we were not sure what we would find. We had been warned that this was a congregation that had gone through a lot of loss and was in need of healing. Other ministers had tactfully told us that we might want to reconsider going there, that it was maybe biting off more than we could chew. And yet, at Unity of Hollywood we had a wonderful feeling and there were signs that this was, indeed, our church. One of the signs was rather humorous. A huge lizard appeared in a tree outside a window in the sanctuary during our talk that Sunday. He or she watched us throughout the service. We were later told that this lizard had not made an appearance since the previous minister's death.
The other sign was more visceral--a heart-quickening, soul connection and feeling of being home with family when we were with the people of the church. We left knowing that this was our church. And sure enough, they felt it too.
This last weekend, with the people of Unity of Olympia, reminded us of our trip to Unity of Hollywood, and coincidentally, both try-out weekends occurred in the month of July, right around the time of my birthday. The people were warm and friendly, had open hearts and minds, were generous and compassionate, ready to reach out into the outside community and get involved, and to take a leap of faith. My husband and I found ourselves falling in love--not with each other, that had happened a long time ago--but with these people. As the weekend was drawing to a close, I could feel the emotions rising within me, the tears coming to my eyes. Would I ever see these people again? I wondered. The "Hello" Committee and Council of Trustees members asked how we were feeling in the last few minutes before we went back to our hotel. Bob put it this way, "It's like you're falling in love but don't want to get your heart broken."
When you love someone, you want the best for them. That is what we want for the people of Unity of Olympia. We trust that God/Spirit is at work in this process and that when the time comes for a decision, the right and perfect minister(s) will be chosen. Until then, our thoughts and prayers will be with these people who have most assuredly left their footprints on our hearts.