Rev. Craig Rubano

It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self….We find that individuals live creatively and feel that life is worth living or else that they cannot live creatively and are doubtful about the value of living. This variable in human beings is directly related to the quality and quantity of environmental provision.
~ Donald W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality

Donald W. Winnicott, a 20th century child psychologist very influential in my dissertation work, always stressed that, while a person’s authentic self is in evidence at birth in kernel form, for the true self to emerge fully, environments must exist that allow for creative play. Play is, literally, the difference between a life worth living and one where life’s value is in doubt. Of course, much of Winnicott’s work was directed at parental care, but he always stressed the importance of spaces throughout life where creative, playful strivings are encouraged, and where human wholeness could be achieved. I became a

Unitarian Universalist minister because I believe congregations can be just such environments, communities where persons can blossom into their authentic selves. And, if we have learned anything these past 15 months, it is that our congregations are not wholly dependent upon our real estate for those environments: we have continued to create vibrant, communal online spaces where selves can grow, and essential play can happen.

Of course, we long to get back to our beautiful campus, and we will get there, but there are things we have learned virtually that we will want to incorporate in our in-person gatherings. For instance, Community Hour has become a playful, trusting space, a valued opportunity to gather in small groups and truly share from our hearts. How can our in-person Community Hours capture some of the shared energy that our online gatherings have demonstrated? This is just one of many questions that we will answer, together, in the months ahead. And I look forward to learning alongside you as your minister—there it is, the first time I have imagined dropping the co- in front of the word…it is June, and no one is more aware than I, perhaps, that this month means coming to terms with the departure of our beloved Rev. Virginia.

I will have numerous opportunities to express, publicly, my admiration of, and gratitude to your called minister of the past twelve years. But let me say it here too: Rev. Virginia boldly envisioned a project of co-ministry for UUCMC, very much in the context of an urgency for dismantling the characteristics of white supremacy culture. She brought a non-hierarchical, shared, team ministry to the table, and, with a whole lot of grace and generosity, included me at her side. I will not soon forget her wisdom, her daring, and her deep trust in me and in all of you. We will depend on the commitment to shared ministry that she, and all of us, demonstrated these past two years as we move forward together. But, no doubt about it, we will all feel loss in the days to come. And that is right and to be expected. We are blessed to have a truly stellar staff—knowledgeable and skilled and kind—a team that has demonstrated, over and over again, a keen ability to share decision-making, but we will be “a person down” in the coming months. If we can all remember that UUCMC is a place of creative play, we will do just fine going forward. We will continue to learn, continue to lean into the joy that brought us all here in the first place, and continue to offer a community where each of us can be the fully authentic persons we long to be, able to share our passion for truth and justice and realness with one another, our neighboring communities, and the larger world.

I join you in wishing Rev. Virginia a beautiful retirement, full of creative play and vibrant authenticity, with time for family, gardening, art, and new vistas, challenges, and goals. Rev. Virginia, thank you for introducing me to UUCMC, for making me feel welcome, and for sharing its depths with me—we were a fantastic team, and I am truly blessed.

Rev. Craig :)