The only constant is change. This is true with everything that we do in life. The Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael, senior co-minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, NJ reminded me of that. She wrote in our summer gazette about the way things in the congregation are changing, partly due to the pandemic. One example is our virtual-only participants — some from outside of New Jersey. However, other adaptations and growth include our soon to be new music intern and our redesigned memorial garden.
This had me thinking about how much I changed especially spiritually, particularly over the last five years or so. Sure I knew I was Pagan and have practiced for 22 years now — wow time flies! It wasn’t until about 12 years ago or so that I figured out that I belonged on the Druid path. I thought that was it for me and I was all set. I had it all figured out and just needed to learn all I could on this path. And while that may hold true, I am still studying. My elder the Rev. Foxxy (Sher) Pullen constantly reminds me — never stop learning and exploring. She is right though, without learning we don’t grow, and with growth comes change and development.
I was raised Roman Catholic. When I turned 14 I made my Confirmation, not by choice but because I felt obligated. Two years later I started my first real job. I found ways to make money before that though — selling stationery; raking leaves (my sinuses are glad I stopped that one). I had a great incentive to work on Sunday mornings. The store I worked for offered time and half pay for Sundays. I swapped days with other associates just to skip church. At that time minimum wage was only $5.25 an hour. So extra bucks for a teen trying to save for a car and no church sounded great.
This plan went well for a while. Then five years later my brother made his Confirmation and my parents stopped going to church. They became what is called the A&P Catholics — Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday. I kicked and screamed my way out of Ash Wednesday when I was about 7 years old. My parents occasionally tossed out a snide remark, “She isn’t Catholic anyway.” Oh how they were right, I just didn’t know it until 2000.
Getting out of Palm Sunday was a bit trickery though, after all it was a holiday. I just could not sit in what seemed to be the longest Catholic Mass of the year. I’m not all that proud of lying but sometimes we do what we have to do. So as it was the heart of spring, my allergies in full bloom, “migraines” were my only escape.
I always knew from the beginning that I wanted to be an artist. My elementary school art teacher said I was too young to make that decision and I would change my mind. Well in some ways she was right. I never did become a cartoonist. I did, however, go to college for art though.
Oddly, in my junior year of high school when we were looking at colleges, I found myself drawn to a Catholic college. It was the only one of the three that I narrowed down that I actually sent in an application. I received my bachelors degree and fine tuned my focus to photography. Photography has been my passion since I was a teen. There was always a camera with me and still is today, and no, not just a cellphone.
In my sophomore year of college, I applied for the campus photographer part time position and was hired. My boss had me on many photo assignments covering events on and off campus. I was learning my field and making money, I couldn’t ask for more. Then one day he asked me to help him with the campus newsletter. He wanted me to conduct brief one-question interviews with the faculty, staff and students. When he noticed I was doing a great job he told me I should look into a career in journalism. After graduation and with some hesitation, I eventually turned my path in that direction.
One of my first courses was a creative writing class taught by a nun. Sister Brigid was not a stereotypical nun, in fact even the college president wasn’t, either. Although very nervous, I breezed through the class writing poetry and fiction, both in which I’d never done before. Both are very important skills for ritual writing.
It was actually in my Catholic college library that I researched the Pagan path. They had an extensive section dedicated to Paganism. I know, I was shocked about that myself. I read everything that I could get my hands on.
Eventually, in 2007 I started my career as a journalist. Jump ahead 10 years to 2017. I was asked to cover houses of worship, among my other jobs including photographer, photo tech and editorial assistant. It was that very first assignment to interview the ministers at the Unitarian Universalist congregation that things began to change again.
Suddenly, the person doing whatever it takes to skip church is there by 8 for the 10 a.m. service. Heck, I’m there at least twice a week doing something. Oh yeah, I’m the AV Tech Lead, leader of the Communications Team and Sacred Wheel CUUPs. I’m also in a handful of groups and take the Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael’s Bible study classes. Whether it’s working on the Sunday worship slides or helping on the Sweat Equity Team I’m a part of it.
Funny how life happens. If someone told me five years ago that I would be sitting in the choir loft I wouldn’t believe it. I’d say, you’ve lost it, no chance in Hades as Foxxy puts it. Yet, I am writing this blog now in the tech booth (choir loft). In fact I am often up here escaping from home life, clearing my head and getting work done. Soon I will be helping the Sweat Equity Team again sprucing up the congregation for September.
Change happens, we need to go with the flow. If you are too closed-minded and stubborn to change you will not see magick in any sense happen. Magick happens every day in every form and it’s constantly changing. In order to grow this change is important. It will not only benefit you, but everything you do including ritual.
In the words of Sheryl Crow, “I think a change would do you good.”