Since March of 2020, the winds of change have blown strong for the Institute for Spiritual Development in Washington, D.C. Actually they’ve really been more like gales of change.
Like every community around the planet at that time, we faced the specter of the emerging epidemic that quickly became a devastating pandemic. We responded to that first gale as most did. We closed the doors to our physical building in DC, opened the doors to our virtual community EVERYWHERE, and awaited the time that we could comfortably give the “all-clear” to return to our community’s life as it was, meaning we gather in-person for our services, classes, groups and other events.
And while we awaited that time we kept ourselves agile! Like the rest of the world, Zoom became a blessing and a lifeline, helping us keep our connection to our current congregants, while offering a fresh way to connect with both former congregants and seekers of a new kind of spiritual community. As we said on our website for nearly two years, “it’s all of the Spirit, with none of the travel time.” Sure, we have missed and longed for the restorative impact of gathering in person (especially the famous ISD hugs!). But, at the very least, we did discover the almost guilty pleasure of the “no travel time,” and learned to enjoy the convenience of turning on our computer or digital device and poof! There we are, able to share Presence together. Of course it is different than being together physically. But how blessed we have been that we were able to maintain our connection in cyberspace. As I have said often over the last several months, gathering online is a true “out of body” experience.
I continue to be grateful for the shift that we so gracefully made to online offerings as the pandemic progressed. However, as most of you know by now, the gales that have tossed our community to and fro actually began gaining strength as lesser breezes and stronger winds long before the pandemic. We faced a hard fact that the mounting expenses of building ownership and management, combined with declining participation and ongoing financial support, were not sustainable. We were no longer able to afford the monthly mortgage, let alone the myriad of costs to operate our building. So we faced the even harder decision to put the building up for sale, which, as a leadership body of Trustees and ministerial staff, came with lots of sleepless nights, and tears, and frustrations, and, ultimately, resolve.
For me, this difficult decision was truly soothed by our embracing of online life since the beginning of the pandemic. We learned that our spiritual home is truly where our heart is…that the building, no matter how beloved, was not the community…WE are the community. And we can exist and gather and celebrate in ways we may have not thought of before, which gives us lots of “staying power!”
I believe we’ll need to keep reminding ourselves of this fact in the next month, however, as we face the gale force changes bearing down on us. The building sold for our asking price, and, as we prepare to go to settlement, we have been furiously packing and purging it of its 30-plus years of content. We’ll grieve the devastating loss of our friend Michelle Loy, while participating in her memorial service this coming Saturday, the first in-person event we have had in the church building since March 2020. We’ll celebrate the long history in our magnificent building while mourning our loss of it as we host our final in-person service and building de-consecration next Sunday, October 3. (Please note we are asking all attending the in-person events to be COVID-19 vaccinated, and to be prepared to show proof of vaccination at both events).
These whipping winds of change offer us a beautiful opportunity — to re-imagine and re-invigorate the true SPIRIT of our community! This is our time to tap into our creativity, our dedication, our innovation and our ingenuity. ISDDC, with the roots and strength of its powerful ancestry, can truly apply the alchemic Laws of the Universe revealed by Hermes Trismegistus, that are the core of our Principles. We can transmute our current state, with the power of our Thought, Will, and Creation, to become whatever state we choose to make ourselves.
Let us be there for each other in the coming weeks, and remind one another that we are indeed a metaphysical church and community dedicated to our growing spiritual awareness in an ATMOSPHERE of unconditional Love and Acceptance. That ATMOSPHERE is our True Home.