This past week, Monday through Wednesday I attended the Cedar Hill Study group, a UU ministers’ study group that I’ve been part of for about 17 (?) years now. Twice a year we gather to discuss a topic that we would likely not otherwise delve into deeply. Since ministers don’t work regularly in groups, this is also a significant accountability and support group which I value greatly.
This fall’s topic was “anxiety”, and our assigned reading was Scott Stossel’s book My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. The book mixes up the “how’s” and “why’s” of anxiety, so it wouldn’t be my first recommendation for reading on the topic, but it did lead us into a wide ranging discussion that for many became quickly personal. We discussed parenting children with a variety of struggles with anxiety, depression or OCD. We listened to tales about a variety of sources of anxiousness or real anxiety for the members of the group- from vomiting to traveling spouses, from sermon-writing to sermon giving, from physical ailments to starting the work day, from the nightly news to people wearing hats in church. (For those of you who wear hats, that last was not mine- so no worries.) We talked about garden-variety anxiousness and truly incapacitating anxiety disorders. We shared a few strategies for coping and a few remarkably creative ministerial anxiety dreams. We noted dramatic differences, a range of human experience and felt compassion for each other.
Facing anxiety is another topic that is related to courage, but I’m running out of October Sundays to preach on it; we have our birthday Sunday this week, and All Souls the next. Perhaps later in the year we can reflect on it and in the meantime, if some of you are struggling with anxiety, please know that we have the Family Mental Health support group, the men’s ADAM support group, the Caring Team to reach out, folks to sit next to in church, and Rev. Hillary and I are happy to meet with you or gather a conversation for parents if that might be helpful.
Aren’t we interesting beings, living in interesting times? Thank goodness we have the earth, each other, and that which we name the spirit of life, or love, or God.
See you at the Meeting House- for our North Parish 372nd birthday. There will be cake!