Interdependence and Wooden Easter Eggs

A few months ago, I read the book Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. It is a paean to the interdependence at work in natural ecosystems such as forests and fields. What impressed me about Sheldrake’s message is how at first glance, these ecosystems seem to be made-up of individual and identifiable forms, such as trees and grasses and animals, that have found a balanced way to share the same time and space. This balance, in and of itself, is an example of interdependence. Sheldrake goes on to explain, however, that upon closer look, an even deeper form of interdependence operates in these ecosystems. Largely underground and mostly out-of-sight unless we go digging for them, there exist fungal networks that connect all of the above ground life forms that we see in the forests and fields. These “mycorrhizal networks” promote communication and connection between the various forms that make up a given ecosystem. Through these fungal networks, individual forms can express their nutritional needs, thereby creating opportunities for other forms in the ecosystem to physically support them, passing along the requisite nutrients through the interdependent network that connects them all. Each individual form, such as a tree or a stand of grasses, achieves its health and well being by means of its connection and communication with other forms in the ecosystem. It is a truly awesome example of interdependence in the natural world.

Here at UUCM, we have a similar “underground” network—one that promotes connection and communication between and across the more formal structures that are the public facing version of UUCM that is diagrammed so beautifully on our website. Through this sometimes invisible network, we are able to communicate our needs, receive support from others not connected directly to our specific mission and tasks, and in turn, provide support to others as their needs are communicated. The examples of how this underground network functions are subtle, but oh so beautiful! Mostly, they leave me feeling that this community has my back—a feeling that I highly value. Let me illustrate how this underground network has functioned recently in the world of Family Ministry.

As the calendar turned to March and my hopes for a gentle spring were running high, I began thinking about the Kids Connection schedule coming up. I had signed up to be the lead for the Easter Sunday Kids Connection service, which would happen on the last day of the month. I spent some time online researching ways that UU’s celebrate Easter with children and youth. Obviously, eggs and baby animals were a recurring theme in what I found online—the child centered version of the resurrection and new life themes that adults tend to reflect upon at this time of year. I was not sure what exactly I wanted to do with respect to these themes, but I was confident that something would come together in my mind before too long.

brightly colored chalk eggs in knotty wooden bowl on dark, shiny stone counter

Fast forward a week, when last Monday I headed up the hill to UUCM to participate in Jenny’s writing group, one of my favorite features of my UUCM life. As usual, I was planning to stick my head in the office just to give a greeting to Siobhan. Upon stepping inside the building, I noticed that Siobhan was gathered with a group of people in that space where foyer turns into
sanctuary. As I walked toward them to say hello, Siobhan walked over to greet me. She was holding an egg, one of those wooden eggs that was a part of the service on stewardship a few weeks ago. Siobhan, being the prescient person that she is, looked at me and said, “Do you need eggs? Could you use eggs upstairs with the kids?” When I saw the wooden egg in her hands, I immediately said, “YES!” My thoughts turned to decorating them, maybe painting them with sponges and water-based paints. As Siobhan and I were talking, Shanti came up holding a basket full of those wooden eggs, and we told her that I would be taking some of the extra wooden eggs to use upstairs with the children. I immediately collected together in my hands and pockets a dozen wooden eggs to be used in some to-be-determined way at our Easter Kids Connection service. WOW, in a brief moment, as I walked into UUCM to head to my writing group, I connected with all the UUCM people who would begin to bring my plans for Easter Sunday into focus.

Jenny’s writing group, Siobhan, Shanti and her basket of wooden eggs from a previous service — it all came together to provide the answer to my simmering thoughts about how to find a way for the children to engage with the usual themes inherent in this season of rebirth and renewal. For me, this is an example of how our interdependent network operates here, everyday, at UUCM. As I suggested earlier in this piece, it makes me feel that this community and the individuals that constitute it have my back, that we rise together, that one person’s success in their individual efforts to make something happen at UUCM reverberates across the community, to the benefit of all. I am grateful to be a part of this interdependent network that we call UUCM.

PRIDE Family Potluck, Friday, April 26, 6-8:00pm at UUCM
Bring yourself, your family members, your friends and maybe a dish to share!!