Every other year, the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists hosts a conference to bring together Unitarian/Universalists from around the world for fellowship, worship, and cross-cultural spiritual learning. As a Board member of the UU Partner Church Council and a former temporary resident of India, I was delighted to learn that the ICUU meeting in 2018 would be held for the first time in South Asia. As many of you know, I’ve spent many months living and volunteering in India, at orphanages both in Haryana (near India’s capital of Delhi) and in Meghalaya (just north of Bangladesh). This is an incredible opportunity for me to meet with Unitarian/Universalists from around the world — and to visit my friends and the orphanages’ children in India.
On February 5th, I’ll begin the long flight out to New Delhi, where I’ll have about half a week to adjust to the new time zone (10.5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time) and visit friends and the Alen de-Lastic Memorial Children’s Village. On February 11th, I fly up to Kathmandu, Nepal, for the ICUU conference — hopefully I’ll catch a glimpse of Mt. Everest out the window on the way! I’ll participate fully in the conference, while both reuniting with old friends and making new ones from our global Unitarian/Universalist community. I hope to revisit the Boudhanath Stupa and Durbar Square, which I remember well from a past visit to the city and which have been under extensive repairs since the tragic 2015 earthquake. When the conference ends on February 16th, I fly with Khasi Unitarian friends out to Meghalaya, where I will visit with many friends in Shillong and Kharang-Mawsynjri, as well as with the children and staff at the A. Margaret Barr Children’s Village, a Unitarian orphanage I co-founded in 2009. I will start the long flight home on February 18th at 7:30 pm, arriving back in Boston just after 1 pm on February 19th. With another half a week’s time to readjust to our time zone, I hope to be in reasonable enough shape to lead worship on February 25th! I won’t have cell service and won’t be able to guarantee internet access while I’m in South Asia; I hope you will forgive me if it takes me a little while to reply to your messages sent during my time abroad.
With the Parish Committee’s blessing, I am out of pulpit on both February 11th and February 18th. I am grateful to our member, Rev. Sarah Lammert, for preaching on February 11th, and for our Worship Committee and Immigrant Ministry hosting two sanctuary activists and Harvard Divinity School graduates, Gaby Chavez and Nestor Pimienta, on February 18th. Our Pastoral Care team has contact information for two local ministers willing to serve as emergency pastoral care providers in my absence, if a need arises.
I look forward to sharing with all of you about the conference and international U/Uism at a Lyceum on March 25th. I’ll also write a short blog (with some photographs) after my return, and will attempt to keep my facebook page updated while I’m there. I will miss you while I’m away!