Impressions of the Fall Retreat 2021

EUU online retreats have become a real blessing for me – thanks to Zoom, Wonder.Me, and above all, the dedication of the EUU program planning team. I’m one of those people who has had to pass up retreat attendance for many years due to my ailing wife Hanni’s need for me to remain close to home. But Zoom’s talking heads technology has given me a “working from home” alternative for EUU contact during the pandemic via the Morning Drop-In and Evening Cheer gatherings. And this year my daughter Linda’s online know-how gave me a chance to take part in online retreats like the one just experienced – both 2021 events enabled with the imaginative Wonder.Me cloud backdrops. Thanks to all who planned and took part in the weekend event just completed.

Most impressive to me in this case was the Friday night breakout room adventure. It worked out wonderfully for me. The teammates in my bubble in the sky were Rev. Diane Rollert and Wendy Schwartz, and it turned out to be a remarkably good matchup. Wendy and I got to know each other when she was based in Prague, and I’ve worked as a journalist in Boston, her current working place. Like Wendy and me, Diane was not only relocated in a new country but in a new language. This made connecting with her new Montreal UU pastoral duties a bit more challenging at times. Eventually all three of us surmounted the language obstacle, but it did make our early roles as communicators more demanding. And each of us needed good communication skills to achieve our goals. As Diane mentioned at one point: “Language matters.”

I can’t avoid mentioning that Wendy and I have been in occasional email contact recently because both of us have writing projects to market that involve editors, publishers, and, of course, readers. Wendy and her artist brother Tom created a children’s book which she wrote and he illustrated. I found their example of creative teamwork fit well with the e-books Hanni and I wrote together, first on the Kindle platform in 2014, then this September in vastly expanded form on the same authors’ website. I found Wendy’s book a charming example of teamwork – the topic of our own book Collaborating: The Bittersweet Challenge of Working Together. And the children’s book also earned a place in one of three books we refer to as the Team Spirit! trilogy. Its subtitle – Milestones in Art and Entertainment – distinguishes it from its partner books for young adults planning future careers.

One can see that writers believe in networking – not just within UU circles but wherever the topics they develop as their territory of expertise. Our breakout room in the clouds didn’t allow the possibility of exploring this aspect of our profession’s read/write network, but maybe we can return to the topic at a future EUU retreat. It’s my hope that, even when in-person become viable once more, we will maintain Zoom’s talking-heads option as a proven means of effective outreach.

Lyn Shepard, Bern, Switzerland, EUU member at large