Pastor Liz shared this letter with the WildWood community on September 20, 2022:
Each week we say and affirm that WildWood Gathering is a community where we are “invited to show up exactly as we are, and exactly as we are becoming, whole and holy.” Each time I say these words I mean it. I am eager to see you and gather together exactly as you are, as we are, in that moment and in all the way we are always becoming. Even as I say these words I find it easier to create that space for others while not occupying that same space myself.
For many months now I have been navigating acute depression and anxiety. While I have the support of a therapist, a psychiatrist, and medication, I have not yet been able to find a sustainable balance. I am okay, but also not okay. I have not been able to show up for WildWood, for you, my family, or our community in the ways that I want and need to.
I ask for your blessings to take a 6-week medical leave of absence, September 25 - November 1. I propose a hiatus for our Sunday WildWood gatherings, returning together on November 6. While I will not be facilitating gatherings, I encourage you to connect with, and reach out to, one another. Make plans to meet up for drinks, or games, or conversation. I'll make sure you have each other's contact information. From the very beginning of WildWood I envisioned a community unlike any other church community. A community of relationship and connection, of a wide welcome, not simply acceptance, but belonging. I see this vision lived out in this too as I ask for your wide welcome to include all of me, exactly as I am and exactly as I am becoming. This community of belonging will be lived out in how you support one another while I've stepped away too.
I covet your prayers and your patience, as I surround you each with my prayers. A clergy friend recently shared a piece of writing by Philip Gulley, an origin story from a Quaker perspective of the phrase, “I’m holding you in the light.” Quakers say it as an intention to hold one in prayer, to “want for someone what God wants for them - peace and healing and well-being and soundness of mind, body and spirit.” Gulley tells of a story of two prisoners kept in a dark cell with only a six-inch square window 8-feet off the ground. Each day the prisoners would take turns lifting each other up to the window so they could feel the light and the sun and the outdoors, a way to keep from going mad. Gulley writes that, “to say to someone, ‘I will hold you in the light,’ is the verbal equivalent of lifting them up to God, lifting them up to light and goodness, so they can have hope and peace.” It is not something to be said casually, if we say it we must be prepared to lift them up to the window.
Friends, I am holding you in the light, just as you are holding me.
Together we are lifting each other up to goodness and hope and peace.