Rev. Karen Armina’s message for March…
Our March theme is “the path of vulnerability.” This brings up a lot for me- and maybe it does for you, too. I was teased in grade school because I had a last name that was easily made fun of, because I wore homemade clothes and sported home haircuts, because I was an earnest child who often didn’t understand the humor of my peers, because I wore glasses. I have “me too” stories from the next stages in my life, from middle school into young adulthood, as do many women. And also stories of finding my way in adult romantic relationships, of learning (and sometimes not learning) about reciprocity, consent, and safety. Allowing myself to be vulnerable was hard (and it still is, sometimes), given how my early life had taught me that it was safer not to be; coming to terms with knowing I was vulnerable no matter what I learned was harder.
Some kinds of vulnerability can be chosen, though to choose them requires risk. Other kinds are inherent because of gender or identity or social location or marginalization or a host of other factors. When we occupy a body that bears inherent vulnerabilities, it is harder and sometimes impossible to choose other kinds, and it can be an affront to be asked to consider other kinds. I imagine that enslaved people did not have much capacity to choose to allow themselves emotional vulnerability, and neither do people living the vulnerabilities of poverty or housing insecurity or incarceration or unconscious bias. When you’re spending all your resources on survival, vulnerability means a whole different thing. And when you’re in a position from which you do have the capacity to choose vulnerability, that position may insulate you from having to consider the possibility of inherent vulnerabilities. And, of course, these two ways of being are not polar opposites, but simply two ways of being at any given time, among many other possibilities. It’s complicated.
For these and other reasons, I think “the path of vulnerability” is one of the most challenging themes we’ve worked with, and I look forward to digging into it with you. And. Because this theme might bring up a lot for you, I’m here to be with you. If you choose to engage with this theme, or just consider it, or if you’re unable to engage or even consider it, you are not alone.
In faith and love,