“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

This quote is meaningful to me because of the opportunity for transcendence it offers. I consider “spirit” as inner knowing, intuition, feeling, a certain sense, connection with nature, music, and many experiences that let me know there is something beyond this physical plane of human existence.

In the political climate of the past 2+ years, my spirit has been greatly challenged, heartbroken, scared, frustrated, and overwhelmed by trying to find where it can go or what it can do. How can my spirit contend with this current human experience as a privileged white American living in 2019 in a divided country and in a moral universe whose arc seems to be bending away from justice?* How can my spirit stay engaged, and not be broken?

I remain encouraged because of my connection to the collective spirit of people in my life, including members and friends of the UUFA. So many UUFAs and friends are unrelenting as they embody their commitments to creating a more democratic, peaceful world with justice for all people. I love that I find UUs and other kindred spirits all over Athens where anyone is working to serve the community, standing up for social justice, celebrating diversity, engaging in uplifting experience, enjoying music, providing food, protecting the land and water, and endeavoring for spiritual growth. Their work recharges my spirit.

The model of embodiment set by these committed people led me to see a way that I too might contribute in some small way to the greater good.  Their example moved me to accept the nomination for secretary of the UUFA Board of Trustees. Serving on the Board always seemed intimidating to me. However, I have been inspired over the past year by working with this amazing collection of human beings—Rev. Alison Eskildsen, Bob McCarther, Barb Schell, Barbara Teskey, Thrane Jensen, Rosemary Wood, Susan Brown, and Scott Mason.  Watching as they embody their principles, sitting around a table, eating chocolate, sharing ideas, and making sometimes difficult decisions, all with best intentions, while harnessing a spirit of love, commitment, humor, intelligence,  and cooperation, I am honored to serve in this new role.

I am a bit apprehensive, especially given the high standards set by Barbara Teskey as Board secretary for the past three years Yet my spirit is confident that it has landed here because of the decisions others made to step up and embody their principles and commitments as Board members.  I am heartened by Barb assuming president, Thrane remaining treasurer, and Susan Curtis, Clela Reed, Lyndall Tunnell, and Jean Bleyle joining us.

I love our UUFA community. I love the diversity of our beliefs and motivations. I am proud of all the ways our bodies show up to enrich ourselves and to keep our unwavering commitment to doing good works in Athens and beyond, especially in these troubling times. I am grateful for the opportunity UUFA offers to be a part of this, powerful, passionate collective spirit. I appreciate the opportunity service provides for not only the embodiment of my beliefs, but also for some direction along a path toward transcendence. ~ Michelle Swagler

*Theodore Parker