A number of instances come to thought about how the Association family has supported me and ways I have reached out to Association members. Our Association is indeed a very special place.
I frequent the Association office on a fairly regular basis. It is a quiet, peaceful, inspired, and joyful place. I appreciate the practitioners who serve there so faithfully as I work in the study area—sometimes by myself, often with other “family” members. Usually the room is quiet, but there are opportunities for quiet sharing with fellow workers. Something about the place draws me back time and time again. I think a big part is the commonality of the larger purpose that we are all supporting in our own individual ways—the elevation of the race. Each time I leave there with a deeper understanding and gratitude for what Mrs. Eddy has given us through her writings and love of the Bible.
Last year during the afternoon break of Association day, I was feeling a sense of loneliness, or not quite belonging. It seemed so silly to be in a large group of people who were “family” and feel lonely. I am grateful to say that I recognized the erroneous thoughts for what they were—not a part of me or my thought. And I claimed this truth for everyone there. I prayed quietly and the thought came that those feelings could actually be seen as quite selfish—a lot of focus on me. That’s not what Association day is about. It is about reaching out, not going inward. How much had I really reached out to those around me that day?
I noticed someone standing alone, someone I didn’t know. The person had spoken from the floor during the panel discussion, and the comments in that small piece had inspired me. It was enjoyable to approach the person to say how much I had appreciated what had been shared and to make a new acquaintance. After that, feelings of loneliness left and didn’t return, and I learned a good lesson, too.
I love that the Association provides the address from the previous year to be read on Friday, as well the new address on Sunday. Friday is always a welcoming time to see classmates and friends and to have the quiet together as we all ponder the message that comes to each of us through the reading of the address.
I have been in touch with two classmates a bit more regularly this past year. Last week I wrote notes to the others just to say hello, to comment on the inspiring references that were recently sent, and to let them know that I was looking forward to seeing them on May 7th. I know the spirit of the Association assignment really inspired this.